50 Greatest New York Movies

The apple of cinema’s eye

Moonstruck (1987)

“Where are you taking me?!” Cher shrieks as Nicolas Cage sweeps her off her feet. “To bed,” growls Cage. Oo-la-la. Passion’s alive and kicking in this winsome comedy romance, which takes full advantage of New York’s more amorous inclinations. The result is positively swoonsome.

Gangs Of New York (2002)

Martin Scorsese whisks us through time to take a peek at what New York looked like back in the mid-19th century. The film’s not perfect, but its depiction of olden days NY sure is – a beautiful evocation of bygone times that thoroughly convinces.

In America (2002)

It’s all about dreaming big in Jim Sheridan’s little movie, in which an Irish family move into Hell’s Kitchen, only to find out that moniker’s unforgivably apt.

Miracle On 34th Street (1947)

Small wonder Home Alone 2 headed to the Big Apple for its second round of festive hi-jinks – NY never looks more beautiful than at Christmastime. Miracle On 34th Street played to that strength back in the day, capturing the magic of a twinkly NY that still resonates today.

Cloverfield (2008)

Wham! Bam! Thank you ma’am! New York gets torn to pieces by a giant alien thing that introduces itself by decapitating the Statue of Liberty. Clearly aliens like big, sweeping statements, and the sight of NYC being turned into a smoking ruin – just seven years after 9/11 gave us a real-life alternative – packs seriously emotional wallop.

Synecdoche, NY (2008)

Not only do we get New York, but also a massive, sprawling, super-warehouse-sized set of ‘New York’. We still have no idea what ‘Synecdoche’ means, but in this mindfuck from Charlie Kaufman, ideas of performing, living and dying are all questioned inside the warren that is NYC.

Black Swan (2011)

Dark, twisted, unpredictable – Darren Aronofsky shoots New York City at night, encouraging the blackly glittering skyscrapers to dwarf Natalie Portman’s skittish ballerina. The sense of doom and paranoia is perfectly mirrored in the city, where every corner holds a surprise and getting into the back of a cab could be the worst decision of your life.

West Side Story (1961)

It was shot (mostly) in Los Angeles, but that just makes Robert Wise’s NY-set movie version of the musical even more impressive. As the Sharks battle the Jets, there’s no question this story could only take place in New York – even if it wasn’t filmed there.

Rosemarys Baby (1968)

Roman Polanski ensures that for decades to come people will look on the Dakota building with fear, as he turns New York City into a terrifying hotbed of sin. Only in NYC could the devil impregnate a young woman and not even receive a raised eyebrow.

Watchmen (2009)

Alan Moore rewrites history (with a little help from Zack Snyder), as New York becomes a place busting with prejudice and crime. Sounds horrible. Watchmen also likes the meta, which means it ends with a character called Dr Manhattan being blamed for an attack on New York City… Like, woah.