Hollywood filmmakers have been using New York as a backdrop for their films for
decades. It is easy to see why. New York is beautiful, it is popular, and is packed
with iconic buildings and landmarks.
New York also has a personality—it’s vibrant, busy around the clock and diverse.
NY is known as the “Melting Pot” of the US, after all. That said, Hollywood has
made too many movies inspired by the Big Apple.
In this article, we’ll focus on the 7 best movies set in New York. Let’s dive right in.
1. The Godfather (1972)
The Godfather is widely regarded as one of the best movies of all time. It features
a cast of legendary actors like Marlon Brando, Al Pacino and Robert Duvall.
The film centers on the Corleone crime family and the troubles that follow them once
the family patriarch decides to hand over his business to his son
The Godfather is primarily set in New York City, from Staten Island to East Harlem.
The remaining scenes were shot in Las Vegas, California and Sicily, Italy.
Although The Godfather came out more than 50 years ago, it’s one of the most-
watched films each year. Fans love its storytelling, cinematography, award-
winning acting and the depth of its characters.
2. King Kong (2005)
King Kong is a remake of the famous 1933 horror film of the same name. It stars
Jack Black. Andy Serkis and Naomi Watts. The actors star as a team of amateur
filmmakers travelling to a mysterious island to film what’s in there.
They capture a giant gorilla and transport it to New York City. Ann Darrow
(Watts) presents Kong to the world on Broadway. But she doesn’t take part in a
performance meant to entertain people.
Saddened by the absence of her friend Ann, Kong breaks loose and terrorizes the
city until he finds Ann, whom she takes to the top of the Empire Building. New
York police counter-attacked the gorilla using planes. He downs a few of the
planes but doesn’t survive in the end.
3. Uncut Gems (2019)
Uncut Gems came out the same year New York legalized sports betting. That last
bit of information is crucial because the film is centered on sports gambling and
the danger it poses to those who are addicted to it.
In the film, Adam Sandler plays Howard Ratner, a jewelry seller in New York City.
It also features LaKeith Stanfield and Kevin Garnett. Howard has debt problems
amounting to $100,000 and tries to pay them by betting on sports.
He uses an opal smuggled from Ethiopia as his good luck charm. It works,
especially when betting on Boston Celtic games. Unfortunately, he doesn’t pay his
debts in time, and this comes at the cost of his life.
While Adam bets at the Mohegan Sun in the film, New Yorkers can now bet on
sports online. The best New York online sports betting sites offer plenty of
activities to bet on, ranging from the Major Leagues like the NFL to minor sports
in South America.
4. Spider-Man (2002)
Nearly all Spider-Man movies are set in New York City. For the purpose of this
article, we’ll focus on the original film starring Tobey Maguire.
According to IMDB, the original Spider-Man is the best film in the series. To be
fair, Across the Spider-Verse, Into the Spider-Verse and No Way Home could also
fight for the top position.
If you’ve never watched the original Spider-Man, it has a simple premise. A high
school teenager visits a lab with genetically engineered animals during a school trip. One of the spiders bites him and he gains superpowers. He uses his
newfound gift to fight crime throughout New York City. Along the way, he falls in
love but angers his best friend Harry after killing his dad.
5. Taxi Driver (1976)
New York is synonymous with yellow cabs, chaotic drivers and endless traffic
jams. Taxi Driver by Martin Scorsese brings these elements to life thanks to
excellent performances by Robert De Niro, Jodie Foster and Cybill Shepherd.
De Niro plays the character of Travis Bickle, a man who gets into taxi driving to
deal with insomnia. To combat loneliness, Travis occasionally visits porn theaters
and writes a diary.
As his depression continues, he gets into physical training and eventually uses his
skills to fight people running illegal prostitution in New York. He kills a few
criminals during a shootout, but ends up in a coma. After recovering; Travis is
heralded as a hero and does not face prosecution.
6. Manhattan (1979)
Over the years, Hollywood has produced a handful of movies named after New
York boroughs. None of them is as memorable as Manhattan. In this romantic
comedy film, a 42-year-old television writer (Isaac) falls in love with a 17-year-old
high school student named Tracy.
We know. The film wouldn’t work in today’s environment. Anyways, Isaac breaks
up with his girlfriend Mary to shoot his shot at Tracy. He dates her for a while,
breaks up with her and returns to Mary.
In a surprising turn of events, Mary leaves him for a close friend. Isaac becomes
stressed but remembers his love for Tracy. He tracks her down, but meets
her after she’s already settled on moving abroad to study.
7. Brooklyn (2015)
Brooklyn isn’t just the most populated borough in New York City. It is also the title
of an extremely top-rated film. The movie stars Saoirse Ronan, Domhnall Gleeson
and Emory Cohen.
The movie follows a young girl named Eilis Lacey who moves to Brooklyn from
Ireland during the 1950s. After a short while in the Big Apple, Eilis becomes
homesick and returns to Ireland.
Back home, she has to make an important decision about her future. In Ireland,
she wasn’t getting lucky with jobs. In Brooklyn, she can find employment but will
need to become accustomed to the new environment.
Eilis chooses Brooklyn to be her new home. Although she misses home a lot, her
new boyfriend, Tony, gives her a good reason to love New York.