My Favorite New York Movies

I saw a movie just now – ‘Raising Helen‘ – and I just thought, hey – it’s always those New York Movies that I love. Seriously, there’s a certain energy to New York Movies that I just really relate to. New Yorkers might joke that it’s that Amsterdam feel (New York used to be called New Amsterdam). You know, me being Dutch and all.

Anyhow – this is not an exhaustive list. That’s what wikipedia is for. This is just a list of my favorite movies set in New York.

Breakfast at Tiffany’s 
Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany's
Does this movie require any introduction? It was the movie Audrey Hepburn was most proud of. Can I say more? Well yes, it’s romantic, it’s beautiful and set in New York of course.

It’s also the favorite New York movie with readers of this article.

Raising Helen

Kate Hudson plays a successful model agent Helen whose life is turned upside down when she is assigned guardianship to the three kids of one of her sisters. It’s a classic theme of course, but well executed.

There’s a sister who would have expected to become guardian. So there’s not just the romance of finding a guy to help, or the angst of loosing your job, but also the family tension of the sister who just doesn’t think Helen is ready to be a mom.

It’s a fun movie with New York adding just a bit of edge…

Gangs of New York
Gangs of New York (Leonardo Dicaprio, Cameron Diaz, Daniel Day Lewis) Movie Poster
I do like historical movies – whether really historical, or just stories set in the past. This movie taught me something about US history.

It’s New York, around 1840. New York. At that time Irish are coming into the US. Life is chaos in the lower classes – with gangs calling the shots.

The main character is Amsterdam Vallon, played by Leonardi Dicaprio. His dad was the Irish pastor heading one gang who got killed in a gang battle. The Butcher, the guy leading the winning gang, puts Amsterdam in a school.

Amsterdam comes back angry at the killer of his dad and finds himself a place in The Butcher’s gang to be able to kill the Butcher.

The draft supporting the civil war blows up the whole town – and in the chaos the confrontation between the two is finally fought out.

This is not the usual kind of movie I watch, but I loved it. It’s exciting, a bit romantic and sometimes sad too.

Did I mention it got 10 Oscar nominations?

Sex and the City: The Movie (part 1)

With Sarah Jessica Parker, Kim Cattrall, Cynthia Nixon, Kristin Davis, Chris Noth

Probably the most famous contemporary movie set in New York City.

Do I need to tell the story? Carry Bradshaw has a good relationship with her boyfriend Mr. Big, and one day they decide to get married. All kinds of issues come up and Mr. Big walks out on Carry on the day of their big style wedding. Will they find each other again?

Funny, sad, romantic… and full of fashion. I don’t know who didn’t love this movie…

Laws of Attraction – A New York romantic comedy

Getting married is a great way to fall in love

Pierce Brosnan and Julianne Moore play two New York lawyers – the two best New York divorce lawyers. Being often on opposite sides of high profile divorces, they run into each other in court all the time.

In their latest case they represent the wife and husband of a showbiz couple. A small castle in Ireland is the main prize both spouses want most in the whole estate. During a country feast the two lawyers get married. When the booze wears off, they have to face the growing attraction between the two of them…

It’s all about … The Women

With Meg Ryan, Annette Bening, Eva Mendes, Debra Messing and Jada Pinkett Smith

A remake of a famous movie from 1939, which was itself a remake from a play.
The intertwined lives of six modern New York women – a fashion designer, an editor, a mom, a lesbian editor and salesperson.

Mary Haines, played by Meg Ryan, is in a good marriage, has a daughter, a career, a housekeeper and a tutor to her daughter. What more could she wish for? Except… it turns out her husband is having an affair.

The lives of the women in the movie change as this drama plays out. Ultimately a feel good movie, everything ends well…

Bride Wars – With Kate Hudson and Anne Hathaway

Over the top movie about two best friends who fight over their simultaneous weddings… The story is so over the top that at the start one wonders why on earth the suggestion of the grooms is not taken up: to just have one double wedding. But of course if they did, there would not be a story.

That said, this movie is funny and had me weep a bit. Good value in my book.

Suburban Girl – Sarah Michelle Geller and Alec Baldwin

Advertised as ‘Sex and the City’ meets ‘The Devil wears Prada’, this is really a classic young girl meets older man… movie. With a twist. I won’t tell you the twist, suffice to say that any insecure young professional can relate to Bret. She’s a young editor who has a passion for books, but no sense for how to look good.

Pretty of course though (who can forget Sarah as Buffy the Vampire Slayer?).
Her charming older man is the top man in the book business in New York and has flirted with women her age for decades. He’s also a drunk. So that’s the ingredients. The result is funny, romantic and really New York.

The reviews on Amazon are mixed. That’s probably because this is not the classic romantic comedy. Instead there are actual developing characters and an arc that is as messy as real life.

The Terminal – Tom Hanks and Catherine Zeta-Jones

A man from an obscure Eastern European country ends up in a bureaucratic jumble: he can’t go back home, he can’t go into the USA. Instead he is stuck on JFK, the airport of New York City. He meets flight attendant Amelia Warren, who is stuck in a relationship with a married man. He falls in love. In the meantime he becomes part of the eco-system of the airport, getting a job and making friends.

This is a bitter sweet movie. Not quite a romantic comedy, but certainly both romantic and funny. The social statement behind the movie is also clear to anyone acquainted with the plight of illegal immigrants all over the world.

Definitely a movie that asks an ethical question. 

Definitely Maybe

Ryan Reynolds, Kevin Kline, Rachel Weisz, Elizabeth Banks, Isla Fisher

No models or lawyers. Instead this is about the New York I might feel comfortable living in. Journalists, a political adviser, an advertising agency… Alright, maybe some of the ingredients in this movie ARE familiar.

However, the story is nice. Set as the conversation between a daughter and her recently divorced dad, we see him move through life with the three major women in his life, his college sweetheart, the creative journalist and the girl of his dreams. But which does he marry? And will he end up happy?

Funny, real to life and bringing a tear to my eye.

When Harry Met Sally

A movie that set people talking. I remember the talk, even though I didn’t see the movie till much later. Harry and Sally meet and talk about that one topic few people feel (or perhaps only felt) comfortable talking about: how each sex perceives and deals with the opposite one. From fake orgasms to guys not wanting to cuddle after…

Funny and heart warming.

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