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Best Movies Set in Tennessee

Every state is known for something. As you work your way through the list, don’t miss the best movies set in Tennessee. While you're at it, check out the best books set in Tennessee, too.

Tennessee flag with text

Tennessee is a landlocked state in the U.S. South. Its capital, centrally located Nashville, is the heart of the country music scene, with the long-running Grand Ole Opry, the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, and a legendary stretch of honky-tonks and dance halls.

Memphis, in the far southwest, is the home of Elvis Presley’s Graceland, rock-and-roll pioneering Sun Studio, and the blues clubs of Beale Street.

What themes are in Movies Set in Tennessee?

Movies set in Tennessee often explore a variety of themes that reflect the state's culture, history, and diverse landscapes. Some common themes found in such movies include:

  1. Music and Culture:
    • Many films set in Tennessee focus on its rich musical heritage, especially in cities like Nashville and Memphis. Themes may revolve around country, blues, and rock ‘n' roll music.
  2. Southern Identity:
    • Films set in Tennessee often delve into the unique aspects of Southern identity, exploring traditions, values, and social dynamics specific to the region.
  3. Civil Rights and Racial Tensions:
    • Given Tennessee's historical significance in the Civil Rights Movement, some movies address racial tensions, discrimination, and the struggle for equality.
  4. Rural Life vs. Urban Life:
    • Tennessee's landscapes vary from rural areas to vibrant cities. Movies may explore the contrasts between small-town life and the urban experience.
  5. Family and Community:
    • Themes of family bonds and community relationships are common. Stories may depict the close-knit nature of Southern communities.
  6. Historical Events:
    • Films set in Tennessee often draw on historical events, such as the Civil War, the Battle of Nashville, or other pivotal moments in the state's past.
  7. Sports Culture:
    • Tennessee has a strong sports culture, and movies may explore themes related to college football, basketball, or other sports that hold significance in the state.
  8. Love and Relationships:
    • Romantic themes are prevalent, with stories exploring love and relationships against the backdrop of Tennessee's unique settings.
  9. Struggles of Everyday Life:
    • Movies may depict the challenges faced by individuals and families in Tennessee, capturing the essence of everyday life in the state.
  10. Natural Beauty and Environment:
    • Tennessee's picturesque landscapes, including the Great Smoky Mountains, might be a central theme, emphasizing the connection between characters and their environment.
  11. Economic Struggles:
    • Some films set in Tennessee address economic challenges faced by communities, particularly in rural areas.
  12. Spirituality and Faith:
    • Given the strong presence of religious institutions in the South, movies may explore themes related to spirituality, faith, and religious traditions.
RELATED:  Best Movies Set in Kentucky

It's important to note that not all movies set in Tennessee will address these themes, and the state serves as a versatile backdrop for a wide range of genres and narratives. Additionally, individual films may emphasize certain themes more than others based on the specific story being told.

How to Create a State Unit Study for Tennessee

To create a State Unit Study for Tennessee:

  1. Define goals and learning objectives.
  2. Gather resources (books, websites, documentaries).
  3. Study geography, including maps and natural features.
  4. Explore Tennessee's history, notable people, and the Civil War.
  5. Dive into the state's culture, including music, food, and arts.
  6. Understand the state's economy and major industries.
  7. Consider field trips or virtual tours.
  8. Include hands-on activities like crafts and cooking.
  9. Assign projects and reports for deeper understanding.
  10. Assess learning through quizzes, tests, and projects.
  11. Showcase what students have learned.
  12. Reflect on the unit study through discussions and portfolios.

Best Movies Set in Tennessee

  • Amazon Prime Video (Video on Demand)
  • Henry Gibson, Barbara Baxley, Ned Beatty (Actors)


Year: 1975

Robert Altman's Nashville is an explosive drama and a human comedy that delineates and interweaves the lives of 24 major characters during five days in the country music capital of the world. Although its setting is Tennessee, Nashville is a much broader vision of our culture, a penetrating and multi-level portrait of America at a particular time and place.

The Client (1994)
  • Amazon Prime Video (Video on Demand)
  • Susan Sarandon, Tommy Lee Jones, Mary-Louise Parker (Actors)

The Client

Year: 1994

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Fast-paced thriller, based on the John Grisham bestseller, about a boy whose life is endangered after he stumbles across vital information about a politician's murder. His lawyer is the only person offering protection from the unwanted attentions of the Mob and the FBI – but is she capable of saving his life?

Mystery Train
  • Amazon Prime Video (Video on Demand)
  • Masatoshi Nagase, Youki Kudoh, Nicoletta Braschi (Actors)

Mystery Train

Year: 1989

Aloof teenage Japanese tourists, a frazzled Italian widow, and a disgruntled British immigrant all converge in the city of dreams–which, in Mystery Train, from Jim Jarmusch, is Memphis. This triptych of stories pays playful tribute to the home of Stax Records, Sun Studio, Graceland, Carl Perkins, and, of course, the King, who presides over the film like a spirit.

a Tennessee theater

The Blind Side
  • Amazon Prime Video (Video on Demand)
  • Sandra Bullock, Tim McGraw, Quinton Aaron (Actors)

The Blind Side

Year: 2009

Michael Oher (Quinton Aaron), a homeless black teen, has drifted in and out of the school system for years. Then Leigh Anne Tuohy (Sandra Bullock) and her husband, Sean (Tim McGraw), take him in. The Tuohys eventually become Michael's legal guardians, transforming both his life and theirs.

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Michael's tremendous size and protective instincts make him a formidable force on the gridiron, and with help from his new family and devoted tutor, he realizes his potential as a student and football player.

Walk The Line
  • Amazon Prime Video (Video on Demand)
  • Joaquin Phoenix, Reese Witherspoon, Dallas Roberts (Actors)

Walk The Line

Year: 2005

The rise of country music legend Johnny Cash (Joaquin Phoenix) begins with his days as a boy growing up on the family farm, where he struggles under the scorn of his father (Robert Patrick).

As the years pass, Cash ends up in Memphis, Tenn., with his wife, Vivian (Ginnifer Goodwin), and breaks into the music scene after finding his trademark sound. While on tour, Cash meets the love of his life, singer June Carter (Reese Witherspoon), but Cash's volatile lifestyle threatens to keep them apart.

Now that you’ve completed the list of best movies set in this state, why not check out some others? Here are the Best Movies Set in All 50 States.


Click here to download this printable. It has a list of movies in all 50 states, including the Best Movies Set in Tennessee.

printable mock-up image of Movies Set in all 50 states

Further Reading About the State:

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