The Power of Place in American Life

by apjrtheme | created - 31 Aug 2011 | updated - 19 Feb 2013 | Public

How does the power of place shape personal identity and American identity? To what extent does place shape the people who live there and to what extent do the people shape the place? How permanent is the sense of place in American lives? Can one ever really transcend their place of origin? Should they? What really defines the sense of place? Is it more regional (Texas, California, the South, New England, the Midwest)? Is place based on the nature of the community (city, suburb, small town, rural)? Is place defined in a cultural way, based on the values of a place? Or is it something different or a combination of all of these?

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1. American Beauty (1999)

R | 122 min | Drama

8.4
Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.4/10 X  
86 Metascore

A sexually frustrated suburban father has a mid-life crisis after becoming infatuated with his daughter's best friend.

Director: Sam Mendes | Stars: Kevin Spacey, Annette Bening, Thora Birch, Wes Bentley

Votes: 910,566 | Gross: $130.10M

2. Brighton Beach Memoirs (1986)

PG-13 | 108 min | Comedy

6.9
Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  

Eugene, a young teenage Jewish boy, recalls his memoirs of his time as an adolescent youth. He lives with his parents, his aunt, two cousins, and his brother, Stanley, whom he looks up to ... See full summary »

Director: Gene Saks | Stars: Blythe Danner, Jonathan Silverman, Stacey Glick, Lisa Waltz

Votes: 2,740 | Gross: $11.96M

3. Chinatown (1974)

R | 130 min | Drama, Mystery, Thriller

8.2
Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.2/10 X  
86 Metascore

A private detective hired to expose an adulterer finds himself caught up in a web of deceit, corruption, and murder.

Director: Roman Polanski | Stars: Jack Nicholson, Faye Dunaway, John Huston, Perry Lopez

Votes: 240,301 | Gross: $29.20M

4. Coal Miner's Daughter (1980)

PG | 124 min | Biography, Drama, Music

7.5
Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  
87 Metascore

Biographical story of Loretta Lynn, a legendary country singer that came from poverty to worldwide fame. She rose from humble beginnings in Kentucky to superstardom and changing the sound and style of country music forever.

Director: Michael Apted | Stars: Sissy Spacek, Tommy Lee Jones, Levon Helm, Phyllis Boyens-Liptak

Votes: 14,027 | Gross: $67.18M

5. Country (1984)

PG | 105 min | Drama

6.8
Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  

Gilbert Ivy and his wife Jewell are farmers. They seem to be working against the odds, producing no financial surplus. Gilbert has lost hope of ever becoming prosperous, but his wife ... See full summary »

Director: Richard Pearce | Stars: Jessica Lange, Sam Shepard, Wilford Brimley, Matt Clark

Votes: 1,497 | Gross: $9.64M

6. Crossing Delancey (1988)

PG | 97 min | Comedy, Romance

6.9
Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  

A Manhattan single meets a man through her Jewish grandmother's matchmaker.

Director: Joan Micklin Silver | Stars: Amy Irving, Peter Riegert, Reizl Bozyk, Jeroen Krabbé

Votes: 2,959 | Gross: $16.26M

7. Do the Right Thing (1989)

R | 120 min | Comedy, Drama

7.9
Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  
91 Metascore

On the hottest day of the year on a street in the Bedford-Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn, everyone's hate and bigotry smolders and builds until it explodes into violence.

Director: Spike Lee | Stars: Danny Aiello, Ossie Davis, Ruby Dee, Richard Edson

Votes: 66,548 | Gross: $27.55M

8. Fargo (1996)

R | 98 min | Crime, Drama, Thriller

8.1
Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  
85 Metascore

Jerry Lundegaard's inept crime falls apart due to his and his henchmen's bungling and the persistent police work of the quite pregnant Marge Gunderson.

Directors: Joel Coen, Ethan Coen | Stars: William H. Macy, Frances McDormand, Steve Buscemi, Peter Stormare

Votes: 507,272 | Gross: $24.61M

9. Garden State (2004)

R | 102 min | Comedy, Drama, Romance

7.5
Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  
67 Metascore

A quietly troubled young man returns home for his mother's funeral after being estranged from his family for a decade.

Director: Zach Braff | Stars: Zach Braff, Peter Sarsgaard, Natalie Portman, Ian Holm

Votes: 194,987 | Gross: $26.78M

10. Giant (1956)

G | 201 min | Drama, Western

7.7
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  

Sprawling epic covering the life of a Texas cattle rancher and his family and associates.

Director: George Stevens | Stars: Elizabeth Taylor, Rock Hudson, James Dean, Carroll Baker

Votes: 28,637 | Gross: $35.00M

11. The Graduate (1967)

PG | 106 min | Comedy, Drama

8.0
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8/10 X  
77 Metascore

A disillusioned college graduate finds himself torn between his older lover and her daughter.

Director: Mike Nichols | Stars: Dustin Hoffman, Anne Bancroft, Katharine Ross, William Daniels

Votes: 224,719 | Gross: $104.95M

12. Hester Street (1975)

PG | 89 min | Drama, Romance

7.0
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  

It's 1896. Yankel Bogovnik, a Russian Jew, emigrated to the United States three years earlier and has settled where many of his background have, namely on Hester Street on the Lower East ... See full summary »

Director: Joan Micklin Silver | Stars: Steven Keats, Carol Kane, Mel Howard, Dorrie Kavanaugh

Votes: 1,019

13. The Last Picture Show (1971)

R | 118 min | Drama

8.1
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  

In 1951, a group of high schoolers come of age in a bleak, isolated, atrophied West Texas town that is slowly dying, both culturally and economically.

Director: Peter Bogdanovich | Stars: Timothy Bottoms, Jeff Bridges, Cybill Shepherd, Ben Johnson

Votes: 34,528 | Gross: $29.13M

14. Lone Star (1996)

R | 135 min | Drama, Mystery

7.5
Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  
78 Metascore

When the skeleton of his murdered predecessor is found, Sheriff Sam Deeds unearths many other long-buried secrets in his Texas border town.

Director: John Sayles | Stars: Chris Cooper, Elizabeth Peña, Stephen Mendillo, Stephen J. Lang

Votes: 24,704 | Gross: $13.27M

15. Manhattan (1979)

R | 96 min | Comedy, Drama, Romance

8.0
Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8/10 X  
83 Metascore

The life of a divorced television writer dating a teenage girl is further complicated when he falls in love with his best friend's mistress.

Director: Woody Allen | Stars: Woody Allen, Diane Keaton, Mariel Hemingway, Michael Murphy

Votes: 114,220 | Gross: $45.70M

16. Midnight Cowboy (1969)

R | 113 min | Drama

7.9
Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  
79 Metascore

A naive hustler travels from Texas to New York to seek personal fortune but, in the process, finds himself a new friend.

Director: John Schlesinger | Stars: Dustin Hoffman, Jon Voight, Sylvia Miles, John McGiver

Votes: 83,163 | Gross: $44.79M

17. Mr. Deeds Goes to Town (1936)

Approved | 115 min | Comedy, Drama, Romance

8.0
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8/10 X  

Longfellow Deeds, a simple-hearted Vermont tuba player, inherits a fortune and has to contend with opportunist city slickers.

Director: Frank Capra | Stars: Gary Cooper, Jean Arthur, George Bancroft, Lionel Stander

Votes: 16,356

18. Nashville (1975)

R | 160 min | Comedy, Drama, Music

7.8
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  

Over the course of a few hectic days, numerous interrelated people prepare for a political convention as secrets and lies are surfaced and revealed.

Director: Robert Altman | Stars: Keith Carradine, Karen Black, Ronee Blakley, Shelley Duvall

Votes: 19,354 | Gross: $9.98M

19. October Sky (1999)

PG | 108 min | Biography, Drama, Family

7.8
Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  
71 Metascore

The true story of Homer Hickam, a coal miner's son who was inspired by the first Sputnik launch to take up rocketry against his father's wishes.

Director: Joe Johnston | Stars: Jake Gyllenhaal, Chris Cooper, Laura Dern, Chris Owen

Votes: 70,084 | Gross: $32.48M

20. Pleasantville (1998)

PG-13 | 124 min | Comedy, Drama, Fantasy

7.5
Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  
71 Metascore

Two 1990s teenage siblings find themselves in a 1950s sitcom where their influence begins to profoundly change that complacent world.

Director: Gary Ross | Stars: Tobey Maguire, Jeff Daniels, Joan Allen, Reese Witherspoon

Votes: 109,127 | Gross: $40.57M

21. Rushmore (1998)

R | 93 min | Comedy, Drama

7.7
Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  
86 Metascore

The extracurricular king of Rushmore preparatory school is put on academic probation.

Director: Wes Anderson | Stars: Jason Schwartzman, Bill Murray, Olivia Williams, Seymour Cassel

Votes: 146,353 | Gross: $17.11M

22. Shadow of a Doubt (1943)

Approved | 108 min | Thriller

8.0
Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8/10 X  

A young woman discovers her visiting uncle may not be the man he seems to be.

Director: Alfred Hitchcock | Stars: Teresa Wright, Joseph Cotten, Macdonald Carey, Henry Travers

Votes: 49,492

23. Sunshine State (2002)

PG-13 | 141 min | Drama, Romance

6.9
Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  
69 Metascore

A woman and her new husband returns to her hometown roots in coastal northern Florida, and must deal with family, business, and encroaching real estate development.

Director: John Sayles | Stars: Angela Bassett, Edie Falco, Alex Lewis, Alan King

Votes: 3,561 | Gross: $3.06M

24. Tender Mercies (1983)

PG | 92 min | Drama, Music

7.4
Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  

A broken-down, middle-aged country singer gets a new wife, reaches out to his long-lost daughter, and tries to put his troubled life back together.

Director: Bruce Beresford | Stars: Robert Duvall, Tess Harper, Betty Buckley, Wilford Brimley

Votes: 7,793 | Gross: $8.44M

25. The Trip to Bountiful (1985)

PG | 108 min | Drama

7.6
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  

In 1940s Texas, an elderly woman is determined to visit her childhood home for one last time.

Director: Peter Masterson | Stars: Geraldine Page, John Heard, Carlin Glynn, Richard Bradford

Votes: 3,277 | Gross: $7.47M

26. Magnolia (1999)

R | 188 min | Drama

8.0
Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8/10 X  
77 Metascore

An epic mosaic of interrelated characters in search of love, forgiveness, and meaning in the San Fernando Valley.

Director: Paul Thomas Anderson | Stars: Tom Cruise, Jason Robards, Julianne Moore, Philip Seymour Hoffman

Votes: 255,703 | Gross: $22.46M

27. Clear Cut: The Story of Philomath, Oregon (2006)

Not Rated | 72 min | Documentary

8.2
Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.2/10 X  

A documentary about a rural Oregon timber town and a rift between conservatives and liberals that threatens to put an end to a 40-year-old scholarship plan that pays the college tuition for... See full summary »

Director: Peter Richardson

Votes: 114

28. Winter's Bone (2010)

R | 100 min | Drama

7.2
Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  
90 Metascore

An unflinching Ozark Mountain girl hacks through dangerous social terrain as she hunts down her drug-dealing father while trying to keep her family intact.

Director: Debra Granik | Stars: Jennifer Lawrence, John Hawkes, Garret Dillahunt, Isaiah Stone

Votes: 119,448 | Gross: $6.53M

29. The Fighter (I) (2010)

R | 116 min | Biography, Drama, Sport

7.8
Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  
79 Metascore

A look at the early years of boxer "Irish" Micky Ward and his brother who helped train him before going pro in the mid 1980s.

Director: David O. Russell | Stars: Mark Wahlberg, Christian Bale, Amy Adams, Melissa Leo

Votes: 297,454 | Gross: $93.62M

30. There Will Be Blood (2007)

R | 158 min | Drama, History

8.1
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  
93 Metascore

A story of family, religion, hatred, oil and madness, focusing on a turn-of-the-century prospector in the early days of the business.

Director: Paul Thomas Anderson | Stars: Daniel Day-Lewis, Paul Dano, Ciarán Hinds, Martin Stringer

Votes: 418,177 | Gross: $40.22M

31. The Descendants (2011)

R | 115 min | Comedy, Drama

7.3
Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  
84 Metascore

A land baron tries to reconnect with his two daughters after his wife is seriously injured in a boating accident.

Director: Alexander Payne | Stars: George Clooney, Shailene Woodley, Amara Miller, Nick Krause

Votes: 214,925 | Gross: $82.58M

32. Precious (II) (2009)

R | 110 min | Drama

7.3
Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  
79 Metascore

In New York City's Harlem circa 1987, an overweight, abused, illiterate teen who is pregnant with her second child is invited to enroll in an alternative school in hopes that her life can head in a new direction.

Director: Lee Daniels | Stars: Gabourey Sidibe, Mo'Nique, Paula Patton, Mariah Carey

Votes: 94,302 | Gross: $47.40M

33. The Last Mountain (2011)

PG | 95 min | Documentary

7.7
Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  
62 Metascore

A coal mining corporation and a tiny community vie for the last great mountain in Appalachia in a battle for the future of energy that affects us all.

Director: Bill Haney | Stars: Susan Bird, Don Blankenship, Ron Burris, Barbara Bush

Votes: 257 | Gross: $0.12M

34. Vernon, Florida (1981)

Not Rated | 55 min | Documentary, Comedy

7.2
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

Early Errol Morris documentary intersplices random chatter he captured on film of the genuinely eccentric residents of Vernon, Florida. A few examples? The preacher giving a sermon on the ... See full summary »

Director: Errol Morris | Stars: Albert Bitterling, Roscoe Collins, George Harris, Joe Payne

Votes: 2,485

35. Desert Bayou (2007)

Unrated | 90 min | Documentary

6.4
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.4/10 X  

Questions of race, poverty, politics and religion hurdle towards each other in DESERT BAYOU, the story of 600 Hurricane Katrina evacuees who find themselves evacuated and deplaned from New ... See full summary »

Director: Alex LeMay

Votes: 40 | Gross: $0.01M

36. Beasts of the Southern Wild (2012)

PG-13 | 93 min | Adventure, Drama, Fantasy

7.3
Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  
86 Metascore

Faced with both her hot-tempered father's fading health and melting ice-caps that flood her ramshackle bayou community and unleash ancient aurochs, six-year-old Hushpuppy must learn the ways of courage and love.

Director: Benh Zeitlin | Stars: Quvenzhané Wallis, Dwight Henry, Levy Easterly, Lowell Landes

Votes: 74,327 | Gross: $12.80M

37. New York in the 50's (2000)

Not Rated | 72 min | Documentary

5.9
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.9/10 X  

Based on the book by Dan Wakefield, the film combines stunning archival footage of New York with interviews of the icons of the day - Kerouac, Ginsberg, Baldwin, Mailer, Basie, etc. Offering modern day perspectives.

Director: Betsy Blankenbaker | Stars: Ted Steeg, Jack Kerouac, David Amram, Sam Astrachan

Votes: 98 | Gross: $0.00M

38. The Bituminous Coal Queens of Pennsylvania (2005)

89 min | Documentary

7.1
Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

In this documentary, Sarah Rush takes us back to the coal-mining town of her youth -- Carmichaels, Penn., population: 556. At the 50th anniversary of the Coal Queen Pageant in August 2003, ... See full summary »

Directors: Jody Eldred, David Hunt | Stars: Norrell Moore, Andrea Patrick, Sarah Rush

Votes: 48

39. Radiant City (2006)

93 min | Documentary, Comedy, Drama

7.0
Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  
60 Metascore

An examination of the nature of modern suburbia.

Directors: Jim Brown, Gary Burns | Stars: Daniel Jeffery, Bob Legare, Jane MacFarlane, Ashleigh Fidyk

Votes: 450

40. The Town (2010)

R | 125 min | Crime, Drama, Thriller

7.6
Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  
74 Metascore

As he plans his next job, a longtime thief tries to balance his feelings for a bank manager connected to one of his earlier heists, as well as the F.B.I. Agent looking to bring him and his crew down.

Director: Ben Affleck | Stars: Ben Affleck, Rebecca Hall, Jon Hamm, Jeremy Renner

Votes: 302,236 | Gross: $92.19M

41. Trouble the Water (2008)

Unrated | 93 min | Documentary

7.4
Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  
83 Metascore

A redemptive tale of an aspiring rap artist surviving failed levees and her own troubled past and seizing a chance for a new beginning.

Directors: Carl Deal, Tia Lessin | Stars: Michael Brown, George W. Bush, Julie Chen, Ray Nagin

Votes: 1,784 | Gross: $0.52M

42. No Country for Old Men (2007)

R | 122 min | Crime, Drama, Thriller

8.1
Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  
91 Metascore

Violence and mayhem ensue after a hunter stumbles upon a drug deal gone wrong and more than two million dollars in cash near the Rio Grande.

Directors: Ethan Coen, Joel Coen | Stars: Tommy Lee Jones, Javier Bardem, Josh Brolin, Woody Harrelson

Votes: 688,808 | Gross: $74.28M

43. Frontline (1983– )
Episode: The Farmer's Wife (1998)

Not Rated | 390 min | Documentary

9.0
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 9/10 X  

"The Farmer's Wife" takes us deep inside the world of Juanita and Darrel Buschkoetter, a remarkable young Nebraska farm couple, to tell a compelling love story. It follows the Buschkoetters... See full summary »

Director: David Sutherland | Stars: Darrel Buschkoetter, Juanita Buschkoetter

Votes: 154

44. The Spitfire Grill (1996)

PG-13 | 117 min | Drama

6.9
Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  

Percy, upon being released from prison, goes to the small town of Gillead, to find a place where she can start over again. She is taken in by Hannah, to help out at her place, the Spitfire ... See full summary »

Director: Lee David Zlotoff | Stars: Alison Elliott, Ellen Burstyn, Marcia Gay Harden, Will Patton

Votes: 4,982 | Gross: $12.64M

45. The Straight Story (1999)

G | 112 min | Biography, Drama

8.0
Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8/10 X  
86 Metascore

An old man makes a long journey by lawnmower to mend his relationship with an ill brother.

Director: David Lynch | Stars: Richard Farnsworth, Sissy Spacek, Jane Galloway Heitz, Joseph A. Carpenter

Votes: 69,414 | Gross: $6.20M

46. Dancer, Texas Pop. 81 (1998)

PG | 97 min | Comedy, Drama, Family

6.8
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Four friends from the small Texas town of Dancer are graduating from high school and are planning to move to L.A. after graduation, taking the population of Dancer down to 77 from 81. All ... See full summary »

Director: Tim McCanlies | Stars: Breckin Meyer, Peter Facinelli, Eddie Mills, Ethan Embry

Votes: 2,211 | Gross: $0.57M

47. Hoop Dreams (1994)

PG-13 | 170 min | Documentary, Drama, Sport

8.3
Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.3/10 X  
98 Metascore

A film following the lives of two inner-city Chicago boys who struggle to become college basketball players on the road to going professional.

Director: Steve James | Stars: William Gates, Arthur Agee, Emma Gates, Curtis Gates

Votes: 20,867 | Gross: $7.83M

48. Dislocation (2005)

52 min | Documentary

7.2
Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

In February 2002, families living in the Robert Taylor Homes public housing development were given a 180 day notice of eviction. In six months, the community that had been their home for ... See full summary »

Director: Sudhir Venkatesh

Votes: 12