Image for article, titled 15 Movies To Inspire Your Existential US Journey When Life Feels Feeling Shitty

Chloé Zhao’s award-winning nomad land inspires a new wave of tourism to unusual places in South Dakota, including the Reptile Gardens animal park and the cowboy-style Wall Drug Store, both shown in the film.

With all due respect for these attractions, it is less the sights themselves than the context that sell them: Nomadland paints a picture of the badlands that is appealing, even beautiful, even if the film depicts it as anything but a paradise for tourists. Not only do we visit these places for souvenirs, we are looking for something of what Frances McDormand’s character found there: something deeper, even elegiac. A great movie can make us take a second look at a place (and its people) we never thought much about and discover charm and beauty in unexpected places.

These are films that are supposed to inspire people to travel to America, but without the expected tourist stops. None of the trips are straightforward. They are visits to landscapes as diverse as the people who live in the United States, with stories as complex as our relationships.