Oh, boy. I’ve gone and done it.

Try and take on one of the most overdone lists with the least need for improvement. Best movies set in NYC. Why do I do this to myself, you might ask?

Because no movie blog looks legit without this list in there somewhere. Oh, what’s next, Paris?! 

I can assure you there is nothing new here. Not a single line, thought, joke or insight. But maybe you have a spare few minutes and have a bad memory. 

Or I can look at it as a list of some of the greatest films ever made. Nah, I’ll stay sour. 

Or maybe you’re in a bad mood. The kind where you want to drive yourself into an even badder one. You’re in the right place, my friend. For the 9 millionth time, something about Annie Hall and Woody Allen and why Times Square is great for romance. 

Here’s some of the best merch I found related to the movies I’ll be talking about:

Merch from the best movies set in NYC

It is inconceivable that you’re not smitten with Audrey Hepburn after watching her in action. But she also had an impact off the screen.

There really is just one scene that you’d want to immortalize from the movie. But a poster of the shot moments before will have to do.

The poster that adorns the walls of movie critics and YouTubers everywhere. The classic black-and-white really gives it an epic look.

There are no shortage of collectibles when it comes to Ghostbusters. There’s the outfits, the proton guns and so on. But I prefer the ludicrous Marshmallow man.

The movie was based on a riveting book my Peter Maas. The biography was based on a real-life NY cop who faced unbelievably stiff odds and still stood his ground.

Romantic movies set in New York

Keeping with the theme of pain, the first section is about the romantic movies set in the city of New York. 

And here are a few movies of those many, many romantic movies. 

You’ve Got Mail

Why this one first? Is it the best? Not even close.

But I wrote about Sleepless in Seattle, so my brain threw this name out first. I’m putting the absolute minimum amount of thought for this item. 

Also, it was a movie on the internet. Back when it was still a bit of an unknown. So it’s always fun to see the way they talked about it back then. Especially how mild explanation was inserted into anything concerning the internet. 

You’ve Got Mail shows us the romance that has seen so many iterations, it’s almost Shakespearean. 

Girl owns a small store. Boy owns big business alongside douche-dad and douche-granddad. Boy buys out the small business while crushing a perfectly charming place of reading for kids. 

Girl feels vulnerable and lost and ditches fiance. Boy romances newly-single and jobless girl. Like I said, Shakespeare. 

This does not age well. But if you can keep the modern context from ruining the experience, it’s a fun watch. Very old-school. Very corny. Lots of silly coincidences. And Tom Hanks. And Meg Ryan. And Dave Chappelle? And mostly no kids inserting themselves into the story.

There isn’t a Central Park scene, but there is a memorable Riverside Park scene. 

It is the third entry in the Hanks-Ryanocalypse. The other two are not wholly set in NY, and so will not be mentioned. 

The Terminal

Tom Hanks, romance and NYC? Krakozhia baby. It was while watching this Spielberg directorial that I knew I would love Tom Hanks no matter what he did. 

It is a sweet story about a man who is stranded at the JFK airport when his country is plunged into a civil war because of which he has no nationality. 

There, Tom Hanks’s character makes friends, finds a job, finds love and fulfills his father’s dying wish. Most of it from inside the airport. 

tom-hanks-terminal-spielberg-best movies set in nyc

Also, since I wasn’t aware, I thought you’d like to know Krakozhia is a real country. 

I realized this when one YouTuber said he was Krakozhian, and I thought it was a movie-themed joke and then later realized that he wasn’t joking. And also that Krakozhians hate Swedes. Viking bastards. 

The movie also starred Catherine Zeta-Jones and Stanley Tucci, his first movie role that I saw. I believe the second was The Lovely Bones. He is excellent and provides the perfect foil for the bumbling Viktor Navorski. 

An Affair to Remember

From personal favorites to movies that make the lists in all the good websites.

An Affair to Remember is one of the earliest movies to establish NYC as the future overused city for love. 

It starred Cary Grant as the guy who falls in love with the girl on a cruise ship. All quite stale and formulaic. But oh, what’s this, they’re married to other people!

So they agree to meet six months later on top of the Empire State building. With a mission to get rid of their pesky significant others by then. Obviously, it doesn’t work out quite that way. 

That’s the plot for the movie which introduces so many of the popular romantic movie tropes, it makes your head spin. A definite must-watch if this list has any significance to you.

When Harry met Sally

Yep, this one too. This great movie featuring a great diner scene. 

This movie starring Meg Ryan and Billy Crystal is set primarily in the Big Apple.

Breakfast at Tiffany’s

Audrey Hepburn. Iconic dress. Iconic performance

breakfast-at-tiffanys-audrey-hepburn-best movies set in nyc

Audrey’s turn as the easy-going Holly Golightly had one of the best backstories reveals I ever saw in a romantic movie. Plus it had one of the all-time great romantic rain scenes to boot.

I later found out it was set in NYC. I am not good at movie locations. 


Best NYC crime movies

You ain’t serious about your criminal activities if you haven’t taken it to NYC. 

You have your run-of-the-mill gangster movies that are unmistakably NY. Then a few others that are not quite as organized. 


The grand-daddy of crime movies directed by the grand-daddy of crime movie directors Martin Scorsese. One of the best movies of all time, no question. 

Not many movies can boast of talent like the truly ridiculous cast of this movie. 

Robert De Niro, Joe Pesci and Ray Liotta star as 3 of the most memorable gangsters in cinema history. All of them directed by a filmmaking genius. That’s how you use star power. 

Joe Pesci as Tommy DeVito set the standard for all future gangster roles with his performance. 

The Godfather

The list doesn’t let up, unfortunately. I like going hot-cold-hot-cold usually. But his section is tough to add variety to. The number of legendary movies can get quite tiring. 

This Francis Ford Coppola movie is at the top of any list that it even vaguely qualifies for. 

the-godfather-marlon-brandon-best movies set in nyc

List of movies with a wedding. #1.

List of movies with a toll booth scene. Numero uno. 

List of movies where a butcher is in the opening scene. Right at the top. 

List of movies where Diane Keaton is in a less-than-ideal relationship with a short man. Above Annie Hall. 

What else? List of movies with a detour to Italy featuring a terrible actress. Done. 

List of movies with poorly secured washrooms. Bingo.

Alright, I’m done.


From organized crime to organized police corruption. 

Al Pacino stars as Frank Serpico, a real-life NYC cop who goes undercover with the express intent of exposing corruption within the police department.

Unsurprisingly, he gets into quite a bit of trouble

American Gangster

The movie is great. But the cast is quite something in itself.  

American Gangster saw Oscar-winners Russell Crowe and Denzel Washington on the opposite sides of the law. 

Denzel as the gangster with a magnetic personality, Frank Lucas. Russell Crowe as a strongly principled Newark detective.

american-gangster-denzel-washington-best movies set in nyc

It didn’t feel like a biopic to me, but it’s inspired by a real-life gangster. 

It’s worth watching purely for the scenes with these two heavyweights acting off each other. But it’s a solid crime movie. 

Dog Day Afternoon

2 years after they gave us Serpico, director Sydney Lumet and Al Pacino came together for the even better Dog Day Afternoon.

The story is of an amateur bank robbery gone quite wrong. It is by no means a heist movie. It is the anti-heist. Hehe. Anti-heist.

Two rather slow-witted gentlemen decide to rob a bank in the day out of pure desperation. It mainly shows us why these robbers decided to go through with something so monumentally stupid.

And also great scenes of the robbers interacting with the unlucky hostages in the bank. 

A Most Violent Year

Probably the latest entry into this list is A Most Violent Year. This is the movie that exposed me to the talents of Oscar Isaac. 

I saw him next in the impressive Inside Llewyn Davis. Then he took a giant dump on all that good work with X-men: Apocalypse and Po Dameron in the Star Wars movies.

I didn’t know exactly what it was about the movie that had me hooked. I thought it was just the talent of Isaac and Jessica Chastain.

But while I was making the list, I realized it was a throwback to the NYC crime movies of old. 


Quintessential New York movies

Now, this is a tricky section. Some of these could’ve easily fallen into one of the last two sections. 

But these are movies that I associate with the city or are generally considered vintage NYC. How about that for backing my own point of view. Generally considered. 

Annie Hall

I watched this movie well before I realized there was a separate genre of Woody Allen movies. Before I knew he had a thing for big cities, primarily New York. 

This or Manhattan is usually at the top of any Woody Allen movie list. 

But I remember watching this movie and thinking, bo that girl is really young, and there’s a lot of New York on show here.

It is very, very New York, whatever that means. It is very, very Woody Allen.


The timing was excellent for this one. I had recently learned about the lineage of great hosts that worked in late-night television. 

About Johnny Carson and Leno and Letterman and Peter Lassally.

Network had nothing to do with the late-night wars. But it was about must-watch late-night television. The movie is a satire of the highest order.

Set in Manhattan, it shows the descent of a late-night show host into madness. But instead of pulling him off the air, the network milks him for all the ratings he’s worth.

It even has a network exec pretending to be the voice of God in a board meeting. A truly surreal experience in parts. Also, Faye Dunaway. 

There will be many occasions when your mind entertains the possibility that it may be a comedy. It is not. Even if it was, it would be the darkest of comedies.


Blockbuster. Endlessly quotable. Great cosplay option. Theme music familiar to everyone.  Stars Bill Murray and Sigourney Weaver. 

Best villain framed against the NYC skyline too. I can’t ask much more of an iconic movie. 

It’s also one of the best movies to watch over and over again. Because it’s good quality fun that’s not too heavy on plot. 


Best Brooklyn movies

I wasn’t exactly sure what this section was supposed to have. I’m not sure what a Brooklyn is or what Brooklyn movies are supposed to have in common. 

But a lot of movies I love/like qualify.

Do the Right Thing

The movie that introduced me to the whole NY in summer phenomenon. The shots of people sweating, fanning themselves, or situating themselves in front of tiny fans. Oh and the opening credits too. 

They were all very new. Add to that the actual story and the very distinct characters that inhabit the Brooklyn setting. 

It’s a pretty strong standard for someone to hold other Brooklyn movies to. I also did not know who Spike Lee was and how awesome a filmmaker he is.

So this one set the standard for all future Spike Lee movies I would watch, including the excellent BlacKkKlansman. In fact, this is one of the best movies to watch, after finishing BlacKkKlansman. 


The movie that introduced Saoirse Ronan as a serious actress and the idea of Brooklyn in the 1950s for Irish immigrants. 

Sure she had already done Hannah, but this one really showcased her talent as an out-and-out leading lady and then followed it up with Ladybird

It was a great look at NYC in general, and Brooklyn in particular during the 1950s. When wealth was low and immigration was high. 


This could’ve, should’ve been in the romantic movies list. But I needed more items here, so this Cher, Nicholas Cage starrer ends up here.

It shows an Italian-American widow falling for the brother of the man she’s expected to marry. 

Cher won the Academy Award for Best Actress for her performance.

Saturday Night Fever

What a movie. What a soundtrack.

Made John Travolta the hottest property in town. Until Tom Cruise replaced him as ‘hottest property in town’. Get it. Scientology reference.

Popularized Disco to a level never seen before and took the Bee Gees with it. 

All this was accompanied by a very strong story of Tony Manero trying to make a better life for himself doing the thing he’s gifted at. And boy is he gifted.  And boy, does he do?

It goes to dark places quite often and caught me off guard because I was expecting something a little more light-hearted. 


Final Word

That was a lot more fun than I thought it would be. Got a lot off stuff off my chest. 

I told you nothing new. Recommended nothing new. My job is done. 

Or maybe you did find something new. Do not let me know. I have a pretty good clue.

At least if there are no comments, I can make up my own conclusions. 

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