No man is an island. You can be one of a pack, or have one true friend, but humans are biologically compelled to form relationships. Someone to share in joy, but also someone to ease the pain. From childhood on through your adult years, friendships can often be thicker than blood. Hollywood is usually focused on a more romantic love, but some truly great films have been made to honor the other ties that bind.
Whether it is lifelong companionship or a brief moment of closeness, friendships are rife with compelling moments that end up being good stories. While this is not an exhaustive list, these are some of the best odes to friendship that have lit up the big screen.
For a certain generation, Woody (Tom Hanks) and Buzz (Tim Allen) are the greatest example of friendship. It’s a rocky start for the cowboy and the spaceman; the growth of true friendship often is. However, after they’re lost and have to make their way back to their owner, Andy, they find that they’re definitely better friends than enemies.
Lord of the Rings
The Lord of the Rings trilogy showcases many strong friendships, but none can compete with Frodo (Elijah Wood) and Sam (Sean Astin). As Frodo gradually succumbs to the insidious power of the One Ring, Sam is always there to pick up the slack. As they are crawling up the flaming mountainside of Mount Doom and Frodo can go no further, Sam fights through his overwhelming exhaustion and ends up carrying him the rest of the way.
One of the better films to come out of the mumblecore trend, Frances Ha is a painfully accurate portrayal of many millennial friendships. In the small moments, there is an easy intimacy between Frances (Greta Gerwig) and Sophie (Mickey Sumner). However, it also begs the question: What do you do when only one friend is ready to grow up?
Andy (Tim Robbins) and Red (Morgan Freeman) are inmates whose friendship is forged amidst adversity. In the face of a violent and corrupt prison system, they hold onto their humanity and dignity in any way they can. These men are truly devoted to each other and are one of the most beautiful examples of friendship in cinema.
Being best friends isn’t always about the serious stuff. A best friend is often just someone to headbang to “Bohemian Rhapsody” with and to whom you can admit your more embarrassing crushes. Party on, Wayne. Party on, Garth.
Thelma & Louise
Bonded by a desire for freedom and agency, Thelma (Geena Davis) and Louise (Susan Sarandon) are the ultimate example of female friendship. It may not end well for them, but at least they go out on their own terms.
Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid
True best friends stick together through thick and thin. In the case of Butch (Paul Newman) and Sundance (Robert Redford), this means Old West brothels and a hail of bullets. Has there ever been another friendship as cool as this one?
Good Will Hunting
True friendship means wanting the best for the other person, even if it means pain for you. Chuckie (Ben Affleck) believes that Will (Matt Damon) is meant for more than sticking around Boston. It means that he’ll be left behind, but Chuckie knows that his boy’s a genius, even if Will isn’t ready to accept that.
Female friendship is a particularly powerful thing. When times get tough, women tend to bond together, close ranks, and protect their own. There’s no greater example than Steel Magnolias. When M’Lynn (Sally Field) breaks down after the funeral of her beloved daughter, Shelby (Julia Roberts), her friends are all there to let her unleash all of her pain and emotion. Ouiser (Shirley MacLaine) even offers herself up as a literal punching bag. Who started cutting onions in here?
Have you ever shot your gun in the air and yelled “Ahhhhhhh!”? The unlikely friendship between Johnny (Keanu Reeves) and Bodhi (Patrick Swayze) is a favorite of bros everywhere. If an FBI agent and the leader of a surfer gang (!) can find platonic love, anyone can.