Beautiful New York

A Celebration of the City

Top 50 Greatest NYC Movies — #50

People who have never been to the Big Apple before can still recognize it from the multitudes of movies in which it has appeared. No other city on earth has been so iconically displayed onscreen over and over again throughout the decades. For some, the movie version of New York is actually more vivid in the consciousness than the real thing. So, if you’re planning to come see us (or even if you only wish you could), prepare by enjoying one – or several – of the top 50 greatest New York City movies. Each one of these films features Gotham on such a staunch and intrinsic level, the city comes across as a character in the film. None of them could have been set anywhere else. Most feature actual on-location filming, and those that don’t create such vivid set pieces that, if you didn’t know, you wouldn’t know. We will reveal one film per day, beginning with number fifty.

Gangs of New York (dir. Martin Scorsese, 2001)

05-29 Gangs of New York

In order to make the city look like the New York of the 1860’s, Scorsese had to shoot entirely on set in Rome. But the incredible effect is undeniable. Making Herbert Asbury’s novel about the Plug Uglies, the Dead Rabbits, and the other violent gangs of the notorious Five Points district come alive, this film is an epic of Shakespearean scope (complete with shades of Hamlet). Featuring fictional characters, historical figures, and suggestive composites of the two, Gangs of New York offers stunning performances from Daniel Day-Lewis as Bill the Butcher, Jim Broadbent as Boss Tweed, and many others. And it may go down in history as the first great Eastern.


  1. GANGS OF NEW YORK is at the BOTTOM of the list??????

    • Matthew Baker

      Yes. It has many fine qualities that land it on the list. It lacks other qualities that other films have that earn them higher rankings. You will see.

      Remember, it’s not just about “great movies set in New York”. It’s about “great New York movies”.

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