With so many streaming services and options, it’s hard to pick something to watch, and at this point, we'll pay someone just to make the decision for us. Texas has long been the home to, or the inspiration for, many great works, so why not dust off an old favorite or an undiscovered gem from the Lone Star State?
Our film department has tirelessly worked months, and not seen our families for weeks at a time, to compile this list of great Texas films to stream for free. Whether you like historical figures or you still wear diapers, or both, something on this list will be perfect for you. If there’s a good one we missed, let us know in the comments.
Oliver Stone has directed so many movies in North Texas that he’s been given an honorary pistol, so it was no surprise he focused one of his biopics on our former governor-turned-43rd president, George W. Bush. A pre-purple Josh Brolin steps into the shoes of President Bush as the film tells the story of a simple man from humble beginnings who would one day own a shrimp company and have a one-night stand with his true love, Jenny. Or that’s Forrest Gump, whichever. If you turn the sound off on W. and play the audio of Gump, they might sync. Let us know.
Never Goin’ Back
One of the more recent films on the list, Never Goin’ Back, is a comedy about two Garland high school burnouts, Angela and Jessie, as they work just enough to stave off boredom and think about the future. The directorial debut of Augustine Frizzell, the film is inspired by her experiences growing up in the Dallas suburbs. Mixed with both emotion and gross-out laughs without cheapening either to accommodate its female leads, Never Goin’ Back is the more honest and frankly realistic version of the bigger mainstream success Superbad.
A Ghost Story
Raised in Irving, director David Lowery is probably best known for his work on the 2016 remake of Disney’s Pete’s Dragon. A year later, his film A Ghost Story, went in a decidedly less Disney direction. A young Dallas couple’s marriage is cut short when the husband, Casey Affleck, dies in a car crash. Now normally this would be a happy ending for most people, but wife Rooney Mara is left to grieve while the sheet-clad ghost of Affleck is left to watch over her. Full disclaimer — this film is not for everyone — but if you’re the type unbothered by a slow-paced story, this film’s exploration of loss and our roles in the lives around us will stick with you for years after.
Dazed and Confused
This one is a double whammy of Texas. It's Houston director Richard Linklater’s film about the last day of school for a group of Austin teens in 1976. The film was released in 1993, but the attention to detail in creating a believable '70s setting, coupled with the honest writing and performing, leave the film with a timeless quality. This will forever be one of the quintessential films you watch in high school — thinking it’s just so impossibly badass, and without the realization you could just go out and do all the things in the movie. (Maybe not the beating of the freshman with a paddle part, but the rest.) If you’ve never seen it, watch it and realize that every time someone does that Matthew McConaughey impression, it’s about a grown man wanting to have sex with high school girls.
The Royal Tenenbaums
Houston-born filmmaker Wes Anderson is known for his offbeat characters living in storybook-like surroundings. His first films, Bottle Rocket and Rushmore, were both critical and indie favorites, but his third, The Royal Tenenbaums, elevated Anderson’s presence in front of a larger mainstream audience. Possibly it was the cast, an all-star collection featuring the likes of Anjelica Huston, Ben Stiller and Gwyneth Paltrow, or the maturity in Anderson’s trademark mix of J.D. Salinger-plotting and visual echoes of artist Edward Gorey, but it was a breath of fresh air in a theater filled with clones of the most recent blockbusters.
King of the Hill
For those looking for a smaller dose of entertainment, Hulu has every episode of the long-running series King of the Hill. Creator Mike Judge at one time called Garland his home, and the show is loosely based off a mixture of both the city of Richardson and his former residence. Co-creator Greg Daniels of Simpsons and The Office acclaim also helped guide the series away from easy southern-based jokes and into the type of laughs earned from strong character relationships. The show is so good that it made it onto 13 seasons on Fox, and you don’t do that unless you’re The Simpsons or footage of Cops officers being attacked by bears.
Hell or High Water
The question Hollywood has been trying to solve for centuries is: How do we make a good movie with Chris Pine in it? Well, somewhere a team of NASA engineers stood up and cheered when Hell or High Water was made, because it somehow accomplished the impossible. The story of two brothers turning to bank robbery in an effort to save their nearly foreclosed land is tense, well-acted and immensely watchable. Jeff Bridges as the Texas Ranger on Pine's and his brother’s (Ben Foster) trail is always a pleasure, as is seeing Pine get shot.
Streaming doesn’t always have to be "Netflix and chill." Sometimes it can be Hulu and a glass of noon wine in a locked bathroom while your kid watches TV. The ever-smiling, dead-eyed Barney was created here in Dallas, and Hulu’s library features the purple dinosaur as he teaches children about the power of imagination and the alphabet. If hearing the same thing over and over drives you crazy, and it definitely will, there’s a wide variety of Barney adventures that will buy you a few moments of peace.
If you like this story, consider signing up for our email newsletters.
SHOW ME HOW
You have successfully signed up for your selected newsletter(s) - please keep an eye on your mailbox, we're movin' in!
The Last Drive-In with Joe Bob Briggs
Fans of everything gory and offbeat are doing themselves a disservice if they’re missing Joe Bob Briggs’ weekly double feature on Shudder. Briggs introduces audiences to such horror “classics” as Basket Case and Sleepaway Camp, frequently popping in to add insight to the film-making as you watch. Originally slated as a series of specials, the episodes, filmed at Las Colinas studios, are now released every Friday. The monthly subscription for horror streaming service Shudder is still starting at $3.99 for a limited time, so catch this deal while you can.
Dallas Buyers Club
Was there any doubt Matthew McConaughey would make this list twice? Hell he’s probably somehow in all of these entries. The guy’s an enigma wrapped in a joint and stuffed in a bong. He’s also an Academy Award winner for his performance in Dallas Buyers Club. The film follows the true story of rodeo cowboy Ron Woodroof, who begins to smuggle and distribute untested drugs to those inflicted with HIV in order to prolong their lives after he himself is diagnosed with a month to live from AIDS. McConaughey threw himself into the role, losing 50 pounds for the part, thus making 60 percent of his body pure THC.