My Top 10 Favorite New York Movies

4 Apr

There are lots of films to choose from and I don’t expect everyone to agree, but I’ve listed my reasoning for each one. DISCLAIMER: I have an affinity for 1970s NY films, as will be evident…
10. Little Manhattan (2005)
This film is on here for a couple of reasons. 1. It’s really cute. There are few things that I ever refer to as being cute, particularly in the way of children, but even I have a heart. This film about a boy’s first love is just really relatable and humorous. 2. The use of the Upper East Side in this is just brilliant. Lots of great shots in Central Park and the general neighborhood. 3. Hearing Woody Allen-eque dialogue coming from a 10 year old is hysterical.
9. Rosemary’s Baby (1968)


I’m a sucker for horror films. I have yet to find one that actually freaks me out, but Rosemary’s Baby is somewhere up there. Just the thought…*shudders* ew. It’s set primarily in the (infamous?) Dakota, which is kinda eerie even in the daytime. (although, fun fact, I read recently [can’t remember where though] that the crew wasn’t actually allowed to film inside the Dakota, so they just used the outside of the building and then sets.) Few horror films actually take place in NYC (not enough abandoned mansions, I guess) and can pull off creepy in a convincing way – Friday the 13th: Jason Takes Manhattan, anyone?
8. Raising Victor Vargas (2002)

Maybe I really like this film because I feel like I’ve had my share of interactions with the many Victor Vargases in the city and it just shows the character unabashedly as he is. The film has this genuine quality about it that I appreciate. It takes place in the Lower East Side, which I feel has a character all on its own. Also, it stars Victor Rasuk who is in How to Make It in America, which besides having a kickass themesong ( Aloe Blacc’s “I Need a Dollar) features lots of really great, NYC locations that aren’t often used in films.
7. Shaft (1971)

Yes, Shaft is a badass. But, more importantly, he is a New Yorker. He is suave, quick-thinking, sharp-tongued, and has swag. He can get away with anything, just because he is who he is. We should all aspire to be like Shaft. Oh, and let’s not forget his stylish bachelor pad in Greenwich Village.
6. A Bronx Tale (1993)


Normally, I’d shun any film having to do with gangs and the Bronx, because I hate to encourage Bronx stereotypes. However, I do really enjoy DeNiro and I think the film is about so much more than that. Kudos to DeNiro for actually getting his ‘bus operator permit’ (or whatever it’s called in reality) to drive the vintage MTA bus in the film. Plus, you can’t go wrong throwing in a City Island scene into a movie.
5. Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961)


Yes, *gasp* it’s only number 5. I dig the whole NYC socialite thing and of course all of the iconography that this film represents. I also think it’s required upon application for female hipsters to have a borderline unhealthy obsession with Audrey Hepburn, but let’s not get into hipster politics. It’s a classic, the end.
4. Taxi Driver (1976)


I love gritty, XXX rated Times Square. In theory. I think I’d be skeeved out if it were still like that, although, I avoid Times Sq. all the time now, so, I don’t know that it really would make that much of a difference. But, DeNiro with his badass mohawk and Jodie Foster as this preteen prostitute just make for a great film. Hopefully, all of the Albany corruption doesn’t push anyone down the Travis Bickle path…
3. Do the Right Thing (1989)



Lots of awesome stuff happened in 1989: the fall of the Berlin Wall, I was born, oh, yes, and Do the Right Thing came out. I wish my life were a Spike Lee Joint. That’d be pretty cool. Anyhow, the great thing about this film is that while it takes place in Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn, I feel that I could easily see that happening here in the Bronx or Queens even. A heat wave is nothing to fuck around with in NYC, it really does bring out the worst in people. But, I also love a good political statement, which of course Mr. Lee is never shy about sharing.

2. The Taking of Pelham 123 (1974)


Let’s pretend that god awful remake never existed, okay? The 6 is my train and I also really love to see how train stations looked back in the day. This film provides me with both! The plot is well thought out and suspenseful. And it definitely gets you thinking, what if?
1. The Warriors (1979)


I never thought I’d ever want to be in a gang until I saw The Warriors. The fact that all of these gangs gathered (in the Bronx of all places, so there!) from all over the city is crazy even by today’s standards. And, even though they are, for all intents and purposes, criminals, if I saw a member of the The Punks skating around Union Sq., I’d probably strap on my rollerblades and join them. I’m still waiting for some volunteers to join me in gathering materials for the best Halloween costumes ever!
Feel free to add your suggestions in the comments! What do you think should be on the list? And don’t forget to follow me on twitter @LisaDGomez!
Note: I do not own the rights to any of the film images above. Please contact me with any concerns and I will take the appropriate measures 🙂
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