West Virginia on the Silver Screen: A Movie WatchlistApril 14, 2020
If you are at home and starting to feel a longing for West Virginia’s rugged landscapes, scenic beauty and all-around almost heaven charm, don’t worry. We know how you feel. That’s why we decided to put together an entertaining selection of movies that have ties to the Mountain State. So, grab your favorite snacks and enjoy a day on the couch. From films featuring our coal heritage to blockbuster hits with Hollywood stars set in our hills, you’ll find something on this list to watch.
A Beautiful Mind (2001)
“A Beautiful Mind” is a biographical drama starring Russell Crowe is based on the life of mathematician Dr. John F. Nash, Jr. Dr. Nash, who was born in Bluefield, made fundamental contributions to mathematics and was a Nobel Laureate in Economics and an Abel Prize winner. “A Beautiful Mind” chronicles his life as a graduate student at Princeton University.
Hidden Figures (2016)
Another biographical drama, “Hidden Figures” tells the story of three African-American female mathematicians who worked for NASA during the Space Race. In the film, Taraji P. Henson portrays White Sulphur Springs native Katherine Johnson, a Presidential Medal of Freedom and Congressional Gold Medal recipient whose calculations on orbital mechanics were critical to U.S. spaceflights.
Logan Lucky (2017)
Starring an ensemble of Hollywood stars, including Channing Tatum and Adam Driver, “Logan Lucky” is a heist comedy about a family who plans to rob the Charlotte Motor Speedway. The film is set in Boone County and it even features a significant performance of “Take Me Home, County Roads.”
“Matewan” is a dramatization of the events that led to the Battle of Matewan, the coal miners’ strike that occurred in the small West Virginia town of the same name in 1920. The movie documents the heartfelt story of labor organizing during tough times in the West Virginia coalfields. It was filmed in Thurmond, and if you pay attention to some of the scenes, you will be able to see popular spots along the New River Gorge.
Mine 9 (2019)
Inspired by true events, “Mine 9” follows a crew of nine men fighting to survive after an explosion leaves them trapped underground in an Appalachian coal mine with only one hour of oxygen. The film stars Princeton native Kevin Sizemore and was directed by New Martinsville local, Eddie Mensore. It was released on Netflix earlier this month and is available to stream.
October Sky (1999)
Centered around the lives of four boys from Coalwood, around the time of the launch of Sputnik 1, “October Sky” is a classic movie that is still celebrated throughout the region. It is based on the bestselling memoir, “Rocket Boys,” written by Homer Hickam, a coal miner’s son who became a NASA engineer.
Patch Adams (1998)
This heartwarming film, starring Robin Williams, is based on the life story of Dr. Hunter “Patch” Adams, a physician, clown and social activist who founded the Gesundheit! Institute in Hillsboro.
Super 8 (2011)
J.J. Abrams and Steven Speilberg’s science fiction movie “Super 8,” tells the story of a group of teenagers dealing with a dangerous presence in their town. Posing as the fictional town of Lillian, Ohio, the film was shot in Weirton and surrounding areas.
The Glass Castle (2017)
Based on the bestselling memoir by Jeannette Walls, “The Glass Castle” depicts the nomadic life of a family who eventually ends up in Welch, West Virginia. Based on Walls’ childhood of poverty and instability, the film has strong emotional tones. The 2017 film stars Brie Larson, Naomi Watts and Woody Harrelson.
The Mothman Prophecies (2002)
This supernatural thriller will keep you on the edge of your seat! Inspired by the West Virginia urban legend, “The Mothman Prophecies”, which is based on a book of the same name by John Keel, follows a reporter researching the mysterious happenings in Point Pleasant. It is said to be based on true events that occurred between November 1966 and December 1967.
We are Marshall (2006)
Depicting the aftermath of the shocking 1970 plane crash that killed 75 people, including 37 Marshall University football players, “We Are Marshall” is a must-watch film about one of West Virginia’s most devastating events. Starring Matthew McConaughey and Matthew Fox, the film addresses how the community rebuilt the football program and healed after the tragedy. Many scenes from this film were shot on location in Huntington.
Win a Date with Tad Hamilton (2004)
This romantic comedy follows a small-town girl who wins a contest for a date with a celebrity. The town in the movie, Fraziers Bottom, was inspired by a real-life Putnam County community of the same name. “Win a Date with Tad Hamilton” was filmed in Fayetteville, Grandview and the London Locks on the Kanawha River.
More to Watch
- Coal Miner’s Daughter (1980)
This film captures the culture of Appalachian from filming there and even finding extras among the people of rural Kentucky, Virginia and West Virginia.
- Lassie (1994)
The 1994 remake about the classic fictional collie was primarily filmed in Tazewell County, Virginia, but the climax of the movie and most river scenes were filmed at Sandstone Falls near Hinton.
- The Silence of the Lambs (1991)
Although filming primarily took place in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, some scenes were shot in northern West Virginia.
- The Deer Hunter (1978)
The story takes place in a working-class town outside of Pittsburgh, but the mill and trailer scenes were shot in Weirton, West Virginia.
- Night of the Hunter (1955)
Based on the 1953 novel by David Grubb, this film was set in and around Moundsville, and some locations were filmed on the Ohio River in the Northern Panhandle.
- Still Bill (2009)
This documentary film depicts the life of West Virginia native, Bill Withers, from his childhood in Slab Fork, West Virginia to his successful music career and post-retirement family life. The film’s name is a reference to Withers’ 1972 album.
- The Crooked Tune (2017)
West Virginia fiddler and luthier Dave Bing takes his old-time tunes from the hills to the pubs of England and back again in this interesting documentary that showcases musical style and tradition.
- Unstoppable (2010)
The bridge and elevated curve found in the climactic scene of this movie is the B & O Railroad Viaduct between Bellaire, Ohio and Benwood, West Virginia.
- The Bodyguard (1992)
Kevin Costner’s character in “The Bodyguard” attended WVU and is shown wearing a school hoodie. Also, the film’s screenwriter, Lawrence Kasdan, grew up in Morgantown.
- Gods and Generals (2003)
Some parts of the movie were filmed on location in Harpers Ferry and at the Jefferson County Courthouse in Charles Town. The late Senator Robert C. Byrd has a cameo as a Confederate officer.
- Little Accidents (2014)
Shot on location in real West Virginia coal mining towns, this movie captures a small-town community living in the shadow of a terrible mining accident.
The next time you find yourself scrolling through titles to watch, remember these captivating movies made about West Virginia!