The Big Apple has always been the crown jewel of many movies. Alien attacks, superheroes saving the world, defenders defending mankind—the five boroughs of NYC have seen it all. Today, we’re talking about the 15 best movies set in New York. So, let’s get started.
15. Home Alone 2: Lost in New York (1992)
Home Alone 2 took the beloved Kevin McCallister (Macaulay Culkin) out of the Chicago suburbs and brought him to New York. Part of the reason this film became iconic right away was the way it captures New York’s white Christmas.
The film begins when Kevin boards a flight to NYC instead of Miami. There, he runs into people who got the worst end of the stick the last time they tried to rob Kevin’s home—Harry and Marv.
14. Spiderman Trilogy by Sam Raimi (2002-2007)
You can argue all day about which Spiderman trilogy is better. However, no other superhero movie comes even close to the essence of New York captured by Sam Raimi’s Spiderman trilogy. From webbing from building to building to a simple chase in the streets—the Spiderman trilogy has it all.
While the character needs no introduction, it begins when Peter Parker (Toby Maguire) is bitten by a radioactive spider. From there, his superhero journey of fighting crime and personal sacrifices begins across the city of New York.
13. Birdman (2014)
Birdman is set on the famous boulevard of Broadway. While this area of the city gets a lot of attention for its renowned theaters, the film takes a different route. Instead, it’s focused on a basically washed-out star Riggan Thomson (Michael Keaton).
It begins when Thomson tries to revive his dying career by producing a Broadway play. But he does it all by himself—including acting, directing, and writing the play.
12. The Bourne Supremacy (2004)
The Bourne series is widely considered the best espionage movie of all time. And, when you watch the movies, you’d find that hard to argue with. Now, the reason this film stands out is because of its continuous action sequences.
And how they fit in big cities, including Paris in the first one and in New York in this one.
11. Before The Devil Knows You’re Dead (2007)
Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead is set in New York. It may not be known for that—in fact, it may not be known by many, as it’s definitely one of the most underrated movies since the 2000s. But it’s the story set in New York that should draw you.
It’s the greed of two brothers who end up setting up a robbery of their own parent’s jewelry store. Things get worse when the robbery goes awry, one of the parents ends up getting shot, and the other becomes revengeful.
10. The Royal Tenenbaums (2001)
The Royal Tenenbaums is another great film set in the suburbs of New York. While this film largely avoids the busier side of the big apple, it does show life on quieter sides, with large houses and inaudible streets.
As for the story, it’s about a dying man who has to bring his three children together before he passes. While they are all estranged, the events of the films bring them together to form a wonderful movie for the ages.
9. Michael Clayton (2007)
Michael Clayton takes us back to the busier side of New York. This film is based on the titular character, played by George Clooney, who is a powerful attorney working for an equally powerful firm. The grappling of powers in this film puts us right in the heart of Manhattan.
It all begins when Michael Clayton discovers that he’s called to fix a mess that shouldn’t be swept away. So, instead of sweeping it off, he decides to take on the powers-to-be and pisses off a lot of people in his law firm.
8. Escape from New York (1981)
Escape from New York is a dystopian movie and one of the best at it. A film set in the future from 1981 that stills holds its ground today. The character Snake Plissken (Kurt Russell) is so iconic that it has inspired many pop culture characters since, including the game Metal Gear Solid.
However, it’s the setting of dystopian New York which should intrigue you the most. Set in Manhattan, which has become a maximum security prison, Snake is tasked to rescue the US President from the jaws of Danger.
7. Cloverfield (2008)
Cloverfield‘s plot would make you think as if it’s a generic monster movie. It is, after all, a huge alien monster wreaking havoc on the streets of New York. However, the film’s cinematography and the way it plays out make it anything but generic.
While the monster rummages through New York, a group of friends desperately tries to save their other friend. On their way, they record everything through a hand-held came—through which we see the events unfold.
6. The Avengers (2012)
The Avengers, now hailed as The “Original” Avengers, was the film that shot MCU (Marvel Cinematic Universe) to new heights and fame. It was also the first film in the four-series SAGA, which culminated with the Endgame.
The first Avenger movie largely depended on the destruction brought down on NYC by the Chitauri Army, led by Loki. However, throughout these Avenger movies, the one constant thing was the Avengers’ base—the NYC STARK building, which turned into the Avenger’s headquarters.
5. Goodfellas (1990)
Goodfellas is widely renowned as one of the best gangster/mafioso movies of all time. But, it’s the setting in New York that pits these gangsters against other violent mafia families, the police, etc.
The story is of three friends, Henry Hill (Ray Liotta), Jimmy (Robert De Niro), and Tommy (Joe Pesci), who climb the criminal ranks until they’re higher-up gangsters in the unkind NYC streets.
4. Ghostbusters (1984)
More than 38 years after its release, Ghostbusters is every bit of a classic that it’s deemed in pop culture. Now, the film was largely successful thanks to its unique comedy + horror thing—which was a bit unusual at the time.
However, the reason this cult classic is still loved by many fans is its New York setting. After setting up an establishment to find monsters and evil, the Ghostbusters go through New York—giving us some of the best 1 hour and 45 minutes of cinema.
3. American Psycho (2000)
American Psycho is a cult classic. Everywhere you go, you see memes and edits related to this film nowadays. But, before it was an internet obsession, this film was widely considered one of the best performances of the stellar Christian Bale.
But, amid all the psychotic chaos, this film is basically told from the point of view of New York’s high life. Why is that? Because Christian Bale plays Patrick Bateman, a wealthy investment banker surrounded by equally wealthy friends.
2. Taxi Driver (1976)
Taxi Driver is one of the most renowned films of all time. A near-perfect rating, and four Oscar nominations aside, it’s the performance of Robert De Niro as the Vietnam War Veteran that makes this film memorable.
However, the setting in New York City and how the crowded life drives this war vet to insanity also play a major role. Which shows the dark and more unspoken side of NYC back in the 70s. This definitely makes it one of the films most recognized in New York.
1. The Godfather (1972)
Godfather is another film that’s considered near-perfect by many people. Not just in accolades but also in the way it has shaped the crime and drama genre since its release. While the film largely focuses on the tussle between Corleone and other crime families, NYC plays a significant role in it.
The Corleone residence is on the east side, which is one of the prominent and expensive neighborhoods of NYC. However, other important aspects of the story take place in various other famous locations—making it perhaps the best film ever based in NYC.
- Manhattan (1979)
- Wall Street (1987)
- King of New York (1990)
What are your favorite movies set in New York? Share with us in the comments!