Best Movies Set in New York (That Aren’t The Godfather)
I love a good movie, don’t you? One of my favorite things to do if I have some free time is watch a movie, either in the theater or at home, with a big bowl of popcorn. After visiting NYC again last year, I started thinking about all the best movies set in New York and decided to put together a list of my favorites to share with you. While there are dozens of lists out there on this topic, I found that a lot of them simply repeat the same titles again and again. My list does not include The Godfather, which was on pretty much every list I read, because while it is an award winning movie it is not one of my favorites.
The movies I have included here are the best movies set in New York, in my opinion. Hopefully they will entertain you, while also inspiring you to visit New York yourself!
*My list is in alphabetical order, not necessarily in order of how much I like the movie.
Best Movies Set in New York
As Good As It Gets
1997 Rated PG-13 IMDb rating 7.7 Rotten Tomatoes 85%
A single mother and waitress (Helen Hunt), a misanthropic author (Jack Nicholson), and a gay artist (Greg Kinnear) form an unlikely friendship after the artist is assaulted in a robbery.
This movie is funny, sad, and heartwarming. Both Brandon and I enjoyed this one years ago, and writing about it now makes me want to watch it again.
2015 Rated PG-13 IMDb rating 7.5 Rotten Tomatoes 97%
An Irish immigrant lands in 1950s Brooklyn, where she quickly falls into a romance with a local. When her past catches up with her, however, she must choose between two countries and the lives that exist within.
I loved loved loved this movie! Admittedly, I am a sucker for pretty much anything that is a period piece. I also happen to really like Saoirse Ronan. She is an incredible actress, at least in everything I have seen.
Disney’s Newsies: The Broadway Musical
2017 Rated PG IMDb rating 8.3 Rotten Tomatoes 93%
Newsboys go on strike in 1899 New York in this stage performance of the musical “Newsies”. Filmed live on stage at the Pantages Theatre in Hollywood, this high energy show stars the original Broadway cast members.
My daughter Finley and I love musicals, and Newsies is no exception. Period piece? Check. Musical? Check. The cast is incredibly talented and put on a fantastic show!
2003 Rated PG IMDb rating 7 Rotten Tomatoes 85%
Raised as an oversized elf, Buddy travels from the North Pole to New York City to meet his biological father, Walter Hobbs, who doesn’t know he exists and is in desperate need of some Christmas spirit.
This is one of our all-time favorite Christmas movies, and one that we watch every single year without fail! It’s funny, heartwarming, and will definitely put you in the Christmas spirit. Fun for the whole family!
2007 Rated PG IMDb rating 7.1 Rotten Tomatoes 93%
A young maiden in a land called Andalasia, who is prepared to be wed, is sent away to New York City by an evil Queen, where she falls in love with a lawyer.
This is a fun movie for the whole family! Part animation, part live-action, this romantic comedy is also a musical. My daughters and I enjoyed it!
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
2016 Rated PG-13 IMDb rating 7.2 Rotten Tomatoes 74%
The adventures of writer Newt Scamander in New York’s secret community of witches and wizards seventy years before Harry Potter reads his book in school.
We are big time Harry Potter fans over here! In all honesty, Brandon did not care for this movie as much because of the focus on the beasts. The rest of us enjoyed it though! There are two others in this series as of this writing, and we have enjoyed them all. A must see for any Harry Potter fan!
Miracle on 34th Street
1947 Not Rated IMDb rating 7.9 Rotten Tomatoes 96%
After a divorced New York mother hires a nice old man to play Santa Claus at Macy’s, she is startled by his claim to be the genuine article. When his sanity is questioned, a lawyer defends him in court by arguing that he’s not mistaken.
This is another favorite of ours that we watch every Christmas! There is a newer version, but we prefer the original in either black and white or color. This is a sweet movie for the whole family to enjoy during the holidays!
School of Rock
2003 PG-13 IMDb rating 7.2 Rotten Tomatoes 92%
After being kicked out of his rock band, Dewey Finn becomes a substitute teacher of an uptight elementary private school, only to try and turn his class into a rock band.
This is a fun movie for the whole family! Keep in mind it is rated PG-13 for rude humor and drug references, so use your own judgement when deciding what age range it is appropriate for. We generally enjoy Jack Black comedies for what they are, and they are not to be taken too seriously.
2021 PG-13 IMDb rating 7.5 Rotten Tomatoes 87%
On the cusp of his 30th birthday, a promising young theater composer navigates love, friendship and the pressures of life as an artist in New York City.
Another musical on my list of the best movies set in New York, and this one is directed by Lin-Manuel Miranda who I’m a fan of. This movie was interesting (it’s based on a true story), and super sad at times. It highlights very well the struggle that it is to be a starving artist in a place like New York City.
West Side Story
1961 Approved IMDb rating 7.6 Rotten Tomatoes 93%
Two youngsters from rival New York City gangs fall in love, but tensions between their respective friends build toward tragedy.
I honestly had a hard time choosing between this version and the newer one (see below). They both have their merits and their faults. I guess you are just going to have to watch them both and see if you can decide which one is better!
West Side Story
2021 PG-13 IMDb rating 7.2 Rotten Tomatoes 91%
An adaptation of the 1957 musical, West Side Story explores forbidden love and the rivalry between the Jets and the Sharks, two teenage street gangs of different ethnic backgrounds.
Did I miss any of the best movies set in New York? Do you agree (or disagree) with my list? Let me know in the comments!
Looking for more New York travel inspiration? Check out my travel guide and holiday guide!
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