Over the years, Louisiana has been showcased in films to encapsulate irreverence, magic, charm, Southern gothic and a subversively sweet nature only available in the state known for its parishes, not counties. Often combining magical realism and impassioned ways of living, the state’s mossy oaks and mysterious flatlands are the perfect backdrop for mysteries, romance and adventure. Because we’re all still encouraged to remain home as much as possible, I’ve compiled a list of five of the most beautiful and intriguing stories that could only come from Louisiana – and that you can stream or rent.
True Detective Season 1: Although technically not a film, the first season of HBO’s “True Detective” strengthens the argument that we are in the golden age of television. Season one follows two detectives, played by a brooding Matthew McConaughey and a taciturn Woody Harrelson, as they unravel a series of murders in St. Landry Parish. Stylistically, it’s jarring and gorgeous. The first season, which completes the Louisiana narrative, earned an 87 percent on Rotten Tomatoes. Free streaming for HBO and HBOGO members/those who have member passwords.
Steel Magnolias: Some movies are comforting in their familiarity, and a lot of us girls grew up with “Steel Magnolias.” The film features national treasure Dolly Parton, Julia Roberts, Sally Field, Shirly MacLaine and Daryl Hannah in a dramady about bonding within a small-town setting through hardships and joy. Definitely required viewing for a Southern girl! Available for streaming on DirectTV.
A Streetcar Named Desire: Is there anything better than watching an old movie in the afternoon? The black and white film “A Streetcar Named Desire” stars Vivien Leigh and Marlon Brando in an electrifying adaptation of the Tennessee Williams play. Southern Belle Blanche DuBois moves in with her sister and brother-in-law in New Orleans. Leigh’s and Brando’s characters conflict in every way, and the plot crescendos with startling secrets about Blanche’s true motives for taking a streetcar named “Desire” to her sister’s home. Free streaming for Amazon Prime members.
Down by Law: Another film set in New Orleans, the Jim Jarmusch film stars Tom Waits, John Lurie, and Roberto Benigni as characters fit for a Tom Waits song: criminals plotting their escape. The three cellmates meet in jail, coming to blows then hatching a plan for escape. They’re soon meandering the swamps, but where will they go? And what will become of their newfound bond? Introduced at The Cannes Film Festival in 1986, “The New York Times called “Down by Law” a “fable of poetic density.” Available for rent via Amazon.
Beasts of the Southern Wild: If you’re up for an adventure, Beasts of the Southern Wild is for you! The film stars 6-year-old Houma native Quvenzhané Wallis as Hushpuppy. Hushpuppy is a spritely, expressive child who lives in the cut-off community of Bathtub. When her father falls ill, the world as she knows it falls with him, and the prehistoric aurochs her teacher told her about roam the earth after ice caps melt. Rising waters threaten her community as she searches for her mother in a buoyant, fearless way. Try Sundance Now’s free trial to see the film at no charge