Top 5 Best Movies With an NYC Setting

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New York is a city like no other, with a population density and urban environment that stands out whenever the city is photographed or filmed. Stories set in NYC appear throughout literature, television and film. Some of the best movies set in New York City use the city itself as a character, interacting and impacting the lives of everyone else.

5 “New York, I Love You”

Released in 2009, “New York, I Love You” is a NYC-based companion to movies such as “Paris je t’aime.” The movie is composed of numerous short segments, each exploring a different aspect of life in New York. Notable directors and actors, including Natalie Portman, Bradley Cooper, Christina Ricci, Shia LaBeouf and Brett Ratner, contributed. Some segments celebrate New York City’s beauty and the vibrance of its residents, while others show how lonely the modern Metropolis can be. The differences in tone and theme from one segment to the next reflect New York City, with all its wonders and its many imperfections.

4 “The Naked City”

Jules Dassin’s 1948 crime procedural was an early foray by Hollywood into the behind-the-scenes of police investigations. Filmed entirely on-location in New York City, “The Naked City” borrows elements from documentaries, including a narrator and a factual depiction of police work. Professional actors play the major roles in the story of a murder investigation (and its thrilling conclusion on one of New York’s island bridges). The movie ends with a reminder that this has been but one of the many stories that New York tells every day.

3 “Taxi Driver”

Martin Scorsese‘s “Taxi Driver” is among the best movies of his long career. Made in 1976 and starring Robert DeNiro as a mentally unstable Vietnam veteran, the violent, gritty movie takes place largely at night, showing a darker side of Manhattan. It’s the perfect setting to depict urban isolation. DeNiro’s classic yellow NYC taxi weaves in and out of neighborhoods, carrying him in and out of the lives of many different types of New Yorkers. DeNiro’s character, Travis Bickle, narrates throughout, sharing his disgust with the city’s dirty streets and corrupt residents.

2 “Saturday Night Fever”

In 1977, John Badham directed what would become the defining movie of the disco era. “Saturday Night fever” stars John Travolta as a working-class Brooklynite whose nightly trips to the dance club elevate his status to that of a superstar. Not only does the movie capture a particular place and time in New York’s history, it also symbolizes the class struggle and dream of rising to a higher station in life that has inspired New Yorkers for centuries.

1 “Manhattan”

Woody Allen‘s 1979 movie is a black and white love letter to NYC. The Manhattan skyline and everyday sights grace the film’s opening, with Allen’s narration explaining what it is about New York that draws so many people to it from all around the world. The movie goes on to present a series of relationships set against the New York backdrop, but the city is constantly playing a part in how the lives of the characters unfold. While Woody Allen set many of his films in his hometown, this is the one that fully reveals the depth of his love for the place.

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