6 Must-Watch Movies With Wisconsin Connections

Enjoy some of the best depictions of our state to grace the silver screen, with these flicks.  

1. Small Town Wisconsin


This 2020 dramatic comedy follows a divorced father from, you guessed it, small-town Wisconsin. After losing custody, he takes his son on one last road trip down to Milwaukee. The touching tale is full of beautiful shots of the city, lakefront, Wisconsin State Fair, American Family Field and more. 

2. Growing Up Milwaukee


After premiering at the American Black Film Festival in 2020, this documentary highlighting the stories of three Black teenagers in Milwaukee was picked up by HBO Max. The film deftly portrays the struggles and striving of its three main subjects and features many Milwaukee community leaders.

3. The Straight Story


David Lynch, famous for his intensely weird films such as Mulholland Drive, made this sweet, simple movie in 1999 based on a true story. Alvin Straight, a 73-year-old, travels from Iowa to Blue River, Wisconsin, on his riding lawn mower to visit his estranged brother, who suffered a stroke. The story is quintessentially Midwestern and will likely bring a tear to your eye. 

4. American Movie


This movie started as a project for the UW-Milwaukee Film Department and went on to win a Grand Jury Prize at Sundance Film Festival. The hilarious 1999 documentary follows a young filmmaker in Menomonee Falls as he tries desperately to film his first movie. 

5. Pig


In 2021, Nicolas Cage starred in this phenomenal movie about a man, his pig and the profound pain of grief. The movie was co-written and directed by first-time feature filmmaker Michael Sarnoski, a Milwaukee native. It’s amazing. If you don’t believe us, read our review here.

6. When Claude Got Shot


Law student and father of three Claude Motley was shot in the face in 2014 in Milwaukee during an attempted carjacking. Only a few days later, the teenager who shot him attempted another carjacking and was shot by the driver, paralyzed and later sentenced to 12 years in prison. This documentary follows all three through the harrowing aftereffects of that violent weekend. It explores the wide-ranging impact of gun violence and incarceration and poses pressing questions about how Milwaukee can address this issue.


This story is part of Milwaukee Magazine’s November issue.

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Archer is the managing editor at Milwaukee Magazine. Some say he is a great warrior and prophet, a man of boundless sight in a world gone blind, a denizen of truth and goodness, a beacon of hope shining bright in this dark world. Others say he smells like cheese.