New York City is often referred to as an additional character in films. The city’s constancy and the ability to see all walks of life in one glance brings another layer of atmosphere to a film. The film industry has long made movies in and about New York, so this almost feels like a genre all its own. We have compiled the best of the best of New York movies from dramas to comedies to science fiction and romance.

Drama

New York City may be known for the dramatics of Broadway, yet the dramatic films about New York are some of the best movies ever made. Multiple Academy Awards nominations for Best Picture have gone to NYC set dramas, many circling around the same topics. The “Haves” vs. The “Have-Nots” is a common trope along with the gangster movies, Wall Street movies, and crime/justice movies. The list below captures this and more to showcase the darker realities of living in New York City.

  • Taxi Driver (1976)
  • Do the Right Thing (1989)
  • Manhattan (1979)
  • Wall Street (1987)
  • Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961)
  • Goodfellas (1990)
  • Mean Streets (1973)
  • The Wolf of Wall Street (2013)
  • Midnight Cowboy (1969)
  • Shaft (1971)
  • The Godfather (1972)
Taxi Driver (1976)
Taxi Driver (1976)

Classic

This list could go on for a lot longer, but we have picked a few classic films that capture the spirit of NYC, but also of the Golden Era of Hollywood. Big Stars and a big gorilla take on New York to dazzle, scare and move you. These three films are definitely classic films showing New York in a time gone by.

  • King Kong (1933)
  • On the Town (1949)
  • On the Waterfront (1954)

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Science Fiction

The world of sci-fi has not left New York unscathed. In fact, New York is not only home to some of our favorite characters, but also some of the biggest battles in sci-fi. Super crime fighters of all types have found a way to save New York City time and time again. NY sci-fi became popular in the 1980s as special effects began to prove more and more believable. This list of films can take you on a wild ride through the city that doesn’t sleep.

  • Ghostbusters (1984)
  • Escape from New York (1981)
  • Spider-Man: Into the Spiderverse (2018)
  • Superman (1978)
  • The Avengers (2012)
Spider-Man: Into the Spiderverse (2018)
Spider-Man: Into the Spiderverse (2018)

Comedy

New York is home to some of the biggest comedy spots in all of the entertainment industry, but these don’t focus on New York stand-up. These comedies bring humor and levity to the cityscape, yet carry a lot of heart. If the gangster dramas bring you down, one of these is sure to bring you right back up again.

  • The Muppets Take Manhattan (1984)
  • The Devil Wears Prada (2006)
  • Annie Hall (1977)
  • Night at the Museum (2006)
The Muppets Take Manhattan (1984)
The Muppets Take Manhattan (1984)

Romance

A subsection of the New York genre has to be romance. So many romantic comedies and romantic dramas take place in the city. Some are classics, some more recent, but all are beloved by loyal fans. This side of New York is pretty and shiny, full of optimism and fun. But relationships are complicated, so these characters muddle their way through life’s ups and downs as they search for their perfect person – some even in song.

  • When Harry Met Sally…(1989)
  • Frances Ha (2012)
  • West Side Story (1961)
  • Saturday Night Fever (1977)
  • Sex and the City (2008)
  • West Side Story (1961)
  • Enchanted (2007)
When Harry Met Sally...(1989)
When Harry Met Sally…(1989)

Know of other New York City movies for the list? Share in the comments!

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