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The 8 Best Movies That Take Place in New York City

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Is there a city in the world that’s more recognizable than New York City?

In the movie world, NYC is incredibly well represented. When filmmakers need a big city to set their movies in, New York City seems to be one of the go-to spots.

We’ve already looked at the best movies that take place in Philadelphia (which might as well be called “The Rocky List), so now it’s time to take a bite of the Big Apple and see which moves that are set in the massive metropolis are best.8

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8. Do the Right Thing

Do the Right Thing (1989) - Official Trailer

Do the Right Thing is one of those movies that’ll make you feel all kinds of ways. It’s a comedy-drama created by Spike Lee. Not only is it a fantastic film, but it’s also packed to the brim with all things New York. Add in the all-star cast featuring Danny Aiello, Ossie Davis, Ruby Dee, Richard Edson, Giancarlo Esposito, Bill Nunn, John Turturro, and Samuel L. Jackson, and you have a film that everyone must watch.

7. American Psycho

American Psycho - Trailer

American Psycho is a film that cuts deep in more ways than one. Christian Bale takes the lead on this one, and it’s the role that ultimately put him on the map as an A-list star. There’s also Willem Dafoe, Jared Leto, Josh Lucas, Chloë Sevigny, Samantha Mathis, Guinevere Turner, and Reese Witherspoon rounding the incredible cast. There’s plenty of New York in American Psycho, so if you want a glimpse into the high-end world of the Big Apple, this is the perfect film to watch.

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6. King Kong (1933)

King Kong (1933) Official 1938 Re-Release Trailer - King Kong Movie

For its time, King Kong was truly something special. Is there a scene that screams New York City more than King Kong climbing the Empire State Building? Obviously, if you’ve never seen it, you need to prepare yourself for the fact that this movie is pushing 100 years old. But the tradeoff is a masterpiece of classic cinematography.

5. West Side Story

West Side Story - Official® Trailer [HD]

Name me a more iconic duo of gangs than the Jets and the Sharks? Go ahead, I’ll wait. While the tale of forbidden love isn’t necessarily something new, the way it’s handled in West Side Story is a masterpiece. The film is packed amazing songs, fantastic acting, and so much New York City that it’s practically bursting at the seams.

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4. Goodfellas

Goodfellas - Trailer - (1990) - HQ

Goodfellas is one of the best gangster movies you’ll ever see. It has violence, action, comedy, and just about everything you could ever want to see in a classic film. The cast is something to behold, with names like Robert De Niro, Joe Pesci, Ray Liotta, Samuel L. Jackson, and Michael Imperioli, it’s hard to not be impressed. Add Martin Scorsese at the helm, and you have an absolute masterpiece of a movie.

3. Ghostbusters

Ghostbusters (1984) Trailer #1 | Movieclips Classic Trailers

Ghostbusters is an incredible movie. Unlike most of the movies on the list, Ghostbusters isn’t a serious drama. Instead, it’s a hilarious comedy mixed with some spooky elements and plenty of New York City. Even though the film was made in 1984, the jokes hold up just as well as ever.

2. The Godfather

The Godfather Trailer (HD)

When it comes to classic movies, few are as iconic as The Godfather. It takes you on deep dive into the criminal underworld of New York City. I don’t think I need to sell anyone on the merits of The Godfather, as it’s generally regarded as one of the greatest films of all time. If you somehow haven’t seen it, just watch it. Watch it because you love New York. Watch it because you like movies. Whatever your reason, just watch The Godfather ASAP.

1. Taxi Driver

Taxi Driver - Trailer

Taxi Driver is one of the best movies I’ve ever seen, regardless of the fact that it’s set in New York City. Robert De Niro puts on an absolute masterclass in the Martin Scorsese-directed masterpiece. It’s violent, intense, and the type of movie that needs to be seen to believed. As far as New York City, there’s the movie might as well be called The Big Apple: The Movie, because the film is brimming with NYC.

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mj rudy
mj rudy

I was on a bus tour of Brooklyn that went to different movie sites and fed us pizza all day.

Guillermo Dominguez
Guillermo Dominguez

The magic for NYC is the trip of just walking the same streets and try to be in that context, surreal.

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