Texas Forever

Celebrating the greatest Texas films of all-time.

A project by Carra Sykes and John Mata, with a little help from their Lone Star friends.

Reality Bites

Directed by Ben Stiller

"Reality Bites was my gateway drug into what adults were dealing with when I was a teenager in the 90s. It also was exciting to see a film with actors I loved set in the city I lived in, Houston. What I gleaned from the film was the following. Anyone with a camera documenting their friends was a genius. Anyone with any ambition and a job was a sell-out. Anyone with a half-decent lexicon, facial hair, and hostility while also unemployed were both wise and a bastion of truth. What I know today is that Lelaina was a terrible filmmaker and smoked WAY too much, Troy is a total pseudo-intellectual loser and mediocre musician, and Michael was actually very kind and tried to help Lelaina and made her crappy film about her not-so-interesting friends actually better than it was with editing and style. I now find characters like Vickie or Sammy far more compelling and wish they had more screen time in lieu of the main love triangle. Overall though, I still love the film. It’s a time capsule of the 90s and Gen-X and has a decent soundtrack. My wife Ash demanded that I draw the kiss with the Big Gulps, so I obliged. "

Design by Brian Michael Gossett

Kill Bill
Vol. 1 & Vol. 2
(2003, 2004)

Directed by Quentin Tarantino

"Who doesn’t love a movie about a strong, kick-ass woman getting some well-deserved revenge? Legendary director Quentin Tarantino sets this epic two-part story in motion with an El Paso church shootout, and the movie doesn’t let up from there. Even though our heroine travels all over the world to serve her brand of justice, there’s a lot about this movie for me that’s quintessentially Texan. "

Design by Jessica Molina


Directed by Andrew Davis

"I have many fond memories of reading Holes in class as a kid and then being so excited when the movie came out. I was a Shia stan from his Even Stevens days and this movie really changed the game for him IMO! Rewatching Holes to find inspiration for this poster was super nostalgic and has some subtle humor that still stands up over the years. I chose to use the iconic yellow-spotted lizards as the feature for this poster because they represent a turning point in the Stanley's bad luck when he and Hector (Zero) are covered in the dangerous lizards yet never bitten by them. "

Design by Bailey Sullivan

Dallas Buyers Club

Directed by Jean-Marc Vallée

"The movie that finally gave Matthew McConaughey his first Oscar win and started the ‘McConaissance’ for ol' Matthew.  The movie follows the real life story of Ron Woodroof, as he refuses to take the diagnosis of AIDS as a death sentence.  Oh, and Jared Leto is pretty good too."

Design by John Mata

From Dusk Till Dawn

Directed by Robert Rodriguez

"There’s a special place in my heart for movies that use hand-done techniques in place of computer generated special effects. Horror movies like The Thing, American Werewolf in London, or Alien will forever be classics, and From Dusk Till Dawn is no different. The film was the first collaboration between Texan-native Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino, with Tom Savini’s special effects, an all-star cast, and not to mention Danny Trejo, Cheech Marin, AND Salma Hayek as vampires... what’s not to love?"


Directed by Gregory Nava

"I'd only seen Selena once before picking it for the Texas Forever project and I knew it would be a challenge because the singer is so beloved and her image continues to be extremely recognizable. I wanted to make sure I respected Selena's memory while portraying her in an imaginative way.
The movie isn't surreal in its storytelling but I liked the idea of representing Selena and her journey to stardom Como La Flor in different stages, one that had just bloomed before tragedy struck."

Design by Ashley Ayer

The Searchers (1956)

Directed by John Ford

"I had never seen The Searchers before, but chose it because it’s considered “one of the greatest and most influential films ever made.”

Unlike a typical Western, with a plot that follows good versus evil, The Searchers subverted my expectations. Its main character, Ethan Edwards (played by John Wayne), is lonely, tainted with racial prejudice, and his obsessive quest is fueled by revenge.

Although the film is markedly dark, its cinematography is gorgeous, and John Ford serves some dazzling shots of the tall rock formations in Monument Valley. I wanted to illustrate this backdrop of beauty, which was twisted into a setting for an uncomfortable story marred by an imperfect hero." 

Design by Cristina Moore

Urban Cowboy (1980)

Directed by James Bridges

"Gilly's Nightclub, the main set for this film, was one of the most 'Texas' places in the world during its heyday. It was a place where the real cowboys and the urban honky tonkers from Dallas would come together just outside of town for nights of bull ridin’, boot scootin’ revelry and this film perfectly captures Gilly's essence through a little tale of love, loss, and redemption. It'll always be a classic in my book."

Design by Zachary Wieland

Rushmore (1998)

Directed by Wes Anderson

"Rushmore is an early Wes Anderson film that I’ve never watched til now, which was my motivation to pick it. Going in with fresh eyes, it’s cool to see his trademark style develop through the interesting characters he creates and all of the artistic visuals. This quirky coming-of-age story is an enjoyable journey that manages to come full circle. It’s based on a private school in Houston that Wes Anderson attended and it’s the perfect location for one of his films."

Design by Dingbat Co.

Days of Heaven (1978)

Directed by Terrence Malick

“I had never heard of the movie Days of Heaven before choosing to watch it for the Texas Forever Project. My wife suggested watching it because it was her late grandmother's favorite and neither of us had seen the film. Days of Heaven was sad and beautiful and made me feel closer to a woman I never got to meet.”

Design by Carra Sykes

Dazed and Confused

Directed by Richard Linklater

“When I think of the best stoner movie my first thought is Dazed and Confused.  I cant think of a movie I have watched more times.  Just about every line is quoteable.  If you haven’t seen this movie- what the heck are you waiting for, seriously?! “

Design by John Mata

The Tree of Life

Directed by Terrence Malick

“I love Terence Malick's approach to movies overall - they're big and heady and leave a ton of room for self-reflection, even while the movie's still playing. As a science geek, I also love any story that explores the origins and ends of the universe.

Movies like this breeze into your world, make themselves known, don't ask many questions or offer too many answers, and then they're gone. As a viewer you ride the wave, maybe not completely understanding everything you're seeing, but hopefully you connect with it in some way anyway. I kinda wanted my poster to feel that way too.”

Design by Simon Walker

No Country for Old Men (2007)

Directed by Ethan and Joel Coen

“The Cohen brothers have always given a great element of imagination and unique thought to their films. They’re the opposite of predictability. I loved the cast, the western 80's setting, and the beautiful landscapes of Texas scenery.

Every time I watch this movie, there is something new that I pick up and learn from. I don’t think there is one explanation for this movie, which makes it so interesting and something I will continue to watch. “

Design by Ryan Sprague

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre

Directed by Tobe Hooper

“Not only is it one of my favorites but that movie was a game changer. It works today just as well as it did in ’74. It’s a worldwide phenomenon created right here in the great state of Texas. “

Design by Paul Sirmon

Red River

Directed by Howard Hawks

“Sure, Red River might be dated in a lot of ways but it's widely known as a classic in the genre. It explores a ton of the Texas landscape, and it's one of John Wayne's best and most complex roles. Red River is pretty much everything a Texas based western should be and gave a lot of epic scenes to think about when creating the poster. “

Design by Tyler Anthony


Directed by Martin Ritt

“Hud is one of those movies where the villain is played with such nuanced dimension that the audience might understandably wrestle with empathetic feelings. Paul Newman’s Hud couldn’t fool Patricia Neal, though. The best part of her Oscar-winning portrayal of Alma Brown was when, unscripted, she stared Newman down and called him a “cold-blooded bastard.”

Design by Trent Walton


Copyright © 2020-2021 JOHN MATA