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12 Extraordinary Movies Set In Brooklyn That Will Inspire You To Visit!

12 Extraordinary Movies Set In Brooklyn That Will Inspire You To Visit!

Brooklyn’s distinct character has long captivated the hearts of filmmakers and audiences alike, making it a standout location among movies set in Brooklyn and, more broadly, in the mosaic of movies set in New York.

This borough, with its unique blend of historic charm and contemporary vibrancy, serves as more than just a backdrop; it is a character in its own right, shaping the narratives and infusing them with a sense of authenticity. The diversity of Brooklyn’s neighborhoods – from the brownstone-lined streets of Park Slope to the bustling boardwalks of Coney Island – offers a microcosm of the American experience, making it a pivotal setting in the genre of movies set in the United States of America.

The way these films portray Brooklyn is emotive and profound. They delve into the complexities of urban life, exploring themes of community, identity, and the relentless pursuit of dreams amidst the city’s ever-changing landscape. Through a cinematic lens, Brooklyn becomes a canvas for storytelling, where the dreams and struggles of its residents play out against a backdrop of historic landmarks and skyline views. The films set in Brooklyn do more than just depict the physical environment; they capture the spirit and pulse of the borough, reflecting the diverse experiences of those who inhabit it.

Movies Set In Brooklyn

Additionally, the influence of these films extends beyond the silver screen, enticing movie enthusiasts and travelers alike to explore the borough’s streets, cafes, and cultural hotspots. The allure of Brooklyn, as showcased in these films, has boosted tourism, leading to a growing interest in the best hotels in New York. Visitors flock to the borough, eager to experience the world they’ve seen on screen, from iconic eateries to picturesque parks.

As we journey through the movies set in Brooklyn, we not only celebrate the filmmakers’ artistic achievements but also gain a deeper understanding of the borough’s rich tapestry. These films serve as a homage to Brooklyn, its people, and its enduring influence on American culture. They remind us that Brooklyn is not just a setting, but a living, breathing part of the cinematic stories that resonate with audiences around the globe. In exploring these films, we don’t just watch stories unfold; we step into the very heart of Brooklyn, experiencing its dynamic energy and enduring charm.

Wondering where to watch? It depends on where you live in the world and which streaming services you have. We link to the streaming service we watch on in each case - be it Netflix, Amazon Prime, Apple TV+, or elsewhere.

You can get one month free of Amazon Prime (or a 6-month trial for students) of Amazon Prime and also get immediate access to FREE Two Day shipping, Amazon Video, and Music. While you won't be charged for your free trial, you'll be upgraded to a paid membership plan automatically at the end of the trial period - though if you have already binged all these, you could just cancel before the trial ends.

Apple TV+ also has a one-week trial, and Hulu has a one-month trial (which can be bundled with Disney!). Another option might be using a VPN to access Netflix titles locked to other regions. Netflix is now available in more than 190 countries worldwide and each country has a different library and availability. US Netflix is (understandably) one of the best. 

While we wish everything could just be in one place - for now, it seems these are the best streaming platforms to watch on.

Movies Set In Brooklyn
Movies Set In Brooklyn
Movies Set In Brooklyn

Do the Right Thing (1989)

Directed by Spike Lee, Do the Right Thing is a groundbreaking film that tells the story of a hot summer day in Brooklyn’s Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood. The film deals with themes of race, violence, police brutality, and the simmering tension that erupts into a full-scale riot.

Spike Lee is an American filmmaker known for his provocative and socially conscious work. He has directed numerous critically acclaimed films, including Malcolm X, Inside Man, and BlacKkKlansman. Lee has been nominated for numerous awards, including six Academy Awards, and won an Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay for BlacKkKlansman.

Do the Right Thing follows the lives of the inhabitants of a mostly black neighborhood in Brooklyn on the hottest day of the summer. The film explores the complex relationships between the residents, the police, and the local businesses. The tension builds throughout the day, culminating in a violent confrontation between the police and the residents that leaves the neighborhood in flames.

What makes this film so special is the way that Lee manages to capture the complexity of race relations in America. The film refuses to take a simplistic view of the issue, instead presenting a nuanced portrayal of the conflicts and tensions that exist between different groups.

Do the Right Thing is an essential piece of American cinema that remains just as relevant today as it was when it was first released. It is a powerful examination of race, power, and violence that will challenge and provoke viewers.

She’s Gotta Have It (1986)

She’s Gotta Have It is an American independent film directed, written, and edited by Spike Lee. The film follows the story of a sexually liberated and independent young woman, Nola Darling (Tracy Camilla Johns), who is juggling three very different suitors: Jamie Overstreet (Tommy Redmond Hicks), Greer Childs (John Canada Terrell), and Mars Blackmon (Spike Lee). The film explores Nola’s struggle to navigate her relationships with these men while also dealing with her own desires and independence.

The film’s plot is relatively simple, but its impact lies in its frank and honest portrayal of female sexuality and desire. Nola is a strong and independent woman who is unapologetic about her sexual needs, which was a radical concept at the time the film was released. She refuses to be confined to traditional gender roles and challenges societal expectations of what a woman should be.

She’s Gotta Have It is a groundbreaking film that deserves to be seen by anyone interested in independent filmmaking or exploring issues of sexuality and gender. It is a testament to Spike Lee’s talents as a filmmaker and his ability to push boundaries and challenge audiences.

The Warriors (1979)

The Warriors is a cult classic film directed by Walter Hill that was released in 1979. Hill was known for his ability to create movies that centered around the American experience, particularly the working class. He was also known for his love of the Western genre, and The Warriors is a great example of his ability to blend elements of the Western with a contemporary urban setting.

The movie tells the story of a street gang from Coney Island called The Warriors who attend a meeting of all the gangs in New York City. During the meeting, the leader of a rival gang is murdered, and the Warriors are framed for the crime. With a city-wide bounty on their heads, the Warriors must navigate their way back to Coney Island while being pursued by every gang in the city.

The film was able to capture the zeitgeist of its era while remaining timeless. It’s a movie that has influenced countless filmmakers and has become a cultural touchstone for a generation. The film’s soundtrack, featuring a mix of rock, funk, and disco, is also a highlight, adding to the movie’s electric energy.

The Warriors is a must-see movie for fans of action, suspense, and classic cinema. Walter Hill’s direction is masterful, and the story is both thrilling and thought-provoking. It’s a movie that continues to captivate audiences to this day and is a testament to the enduring power of film.

Goodfellas (1990)

Goodfellas is a classic crime film directed by Martin Scorsese and released in 1990. The film is based on the true story of Henry Hill, a young man who is drawn into the world of organized crime and becomes a member of the Mafia. Scorsese is a highly acclaimed director, known for his gritty and realistic depictions of life in New York City.

The plot of Goodfellas follows Henry Hill, played by Ray Liotta, as he rises through the ranks of the Mafia, working alongside his mentor Jimmy Conway (Robert De Niro) and the psychotic Tommy DeVito (Joe Pesci). The film explores the glamorous and dangerous world of organized crime, as well as the toll it takes on Henry’s personal life. As Henry becomes more deeply involved in the Mafia, he finds himself struggling to balance his loyalty to his criminal associates with his desire for a normal life.

Scorsese’s direction is masterful, using quick cuts, voiceovers, and a vibrant soundtrack to create a sense of energy and intensity. The performances are also outstanding, particularly from Pesci, who won an Academy Award for his portrayal of the volatile Tommy DeVito.

Goodfellas should be watched by anyone who enjoys crime films or is interested in Scorsese’s work. It is a masterclass in filmmaking, with a gripping story, unforgettable characters, and stunning visuals. Even after more than 30 years, it remains a cultural touchstone and a must-see film for any cinema lover.

Moonstruck (1987)

Moonstruck is a romantic comedy film directed by Norman Jewison. Norman Jewison is an experienced Canadian filmmaker with a career spanning over five decades. He has directed many successful films, including In the Heat of the Night, Fiddler on the Roof, and The Hurricane.

The plot of Moonstruck centers around a widowed Italian-American woman named Loretta Castorini, played by Cher, who falls in love with her fiancé’s estranged younger brother, played by Nicolas Cage. The film is set in Brooklyn, New York, and features a rich tapestry of characters, including Loretta’s father, who is having an affair, and her mother, who is obsessed with death.

The film features all: a clever script, charming characters, and delightful performances. The film is a celebration of Italian-American culture, with its family-centered values and traditions. The film’s themes of love, passion, and family are universal, and the story is both funny and touching.

Cher’s performance as Loretta is particularly noteworthy, and she won an Academy Award for her role. Nicolas Cage’s portrayal of Ronny is also excellent, and his chemistry with Cher is undeniable. The film’s supporting cast, including Olympia Dukakis and Danny Aiello, are also outstanding.

Moonstruck is a classic romantic comedy that has stood the test of time. Its witty script, vibrant characters, and heartwarming story make it a must-watch for fans of the genre. I highly recommend this film to anyone who is looking for a feel-good movie that will leave them smiling.

The French Connection (1971)

The French Connection is a classic crime-thriller film directed by William Friedkin, released in 1971. The film is based on Robin Moore’s book The French Connection: A True Account of Cops, Narcotics, and International Conspiracy, which tells the real-life story of two New York City detectives’ pursuit of a French drug kingpin.

William Friedkin is an American film director, producer, and screenwriter. He gained prominence in the 1970s with his films The French Connection and The Exorcist, both of which won Academy Awards for Best Picture and Best Director. Friedkin’s career has spanned over five decades, and he has directed a range of critically acclaimed films.

The French Connection follows detectives Jimmy Popeye Doyle and Buddy Russo, who stumble upon a heroin-smuggling operation led by Alain Charnier, a French drug kingpin. The detectives become obsessed with catching Charnier, and their pursuit leads them on a dangerous and thrilling chase through the streets of New York City.

The film is known for its gritty realism and authentic portrayal of New York City in the 1970s. Friedkin’s direction captures the city’s energy and grit, creating a sense of urgency and tension throughout the film. The iconic car chase scene is still considered one of the greatest in cinema history and is a testament to Friedkin’s skill as a director.

The French Connection is a must-see film for fans of crime thrillers and classic cinema. Its gripping story, outstanding performances, and gritty realism make it a standout film that has stood the test of time.

Saturday Night Fever (1977)

Saturday Night Fever is a timeless classic that has become a cultural phenomenon. Directed by John Badham, the film stars John Travolta as Tony Manero, a young man from Brooklyn who dreams of making it big as a disco dancer.

John Badham is an American film director who has directed numerous successful films throughout his career. He is known for his ability to create emotionally compelling stories and for his skill in working with actors.

Set in the disco era of the late 1970s, Saturday Night Fever tells the story of Tony’s struggles to find meaning and purpose in his life. He spends his days working in a paint store and his nights dancing at the local disco. Despite his talent on the dance floor, Tony struggles to break free from the poverty and hopelessness of his surroundings. The film explores themes of class, gender, and identity, as Tony begins to question his place in the world.

The film features a raw and authentic portrayal of a working-class community and the struggles that its young people face. The film’s disco soundtrack, featuring classic hits such as Stayin’ Alive and Night Fever, has become synonymous with the era and has helped to cement the film’s place in popular culture.

Saturday Night Fever is a great watch for anyone who loves a good story with memorable characters and a killer soundtrack. The film is a true classic that has stood the test of time and is just as relevant today as it was in 1977.

Brooklyn (2015)

Brooklyn is a captivating romantic drama film directed by John Crowley, with a screenplay written by Nick Hornby based on the novel of the same name by Colm Tóibín. The film stars Saoirse Ronan as Eilis Lacey, a young Irish immigrant who leaves her hometown to start a new life in Brooklyn in the 1950s.

Director John Crowley is a critically acclaimed Irish film and theatre director. He has directed numerous productions for the stage, including the Tony Award-winning play The Pillowman by Martin McDonagh. Crowley has also directed several notable films, including Intermission (2003) and Boy A (2007).

The story follows Eilis as she struggles to adjust to life in America. She experiences homesickness and culture shock, but eventually finds her footing with the help of her landlady and a charming Italian-American man named Tony, played by Emory Cohen. However, her newfound happiness is interrupted when she is forced to return to Ireland due to a family tragedy, and she finds herself torn between her old life and her new one.

Saoirse Ronan’s performance as Eilis is exceptional, as she portrays the character’s emotions and struggles with grace and authenticity. The film’s production design and costumes also capture the essence of the 1950s, transporting the audience to a different time and place.

Brooklyn is a touching and heartfelt film that will resonate with anyone who has ever felt torn between two places or two people. Its themes of love, family, and identity are universal and timeless.

The Squid and the Whale (2005)

The Squid and the Whale is an American independent drama film directed by Noah Baumbach. Baumbach is an accomplished director, screenwriter, and producer known for his work in the independent film industry. He has directed critically acclaimed films such as Frances Ha, The Meyerowitz Stories, and Marriage Story.

The film follows the story of a dysfunctional family in Brooklyn, New York, during the 1980s. Bernard Berkman (Jeff Daniels), a once-successful novelist, struggles to find literary success while his wife Joan (Laura Linney) begins to assert her independence. Their two sons, Walt (Jesse Eisenberg) and Frank (Owen Kline), become collateral damage in their parents’ increasingly bitter divorce.

The film explores the effects of divorce on a family, the fragility of masculinity, and the perils of parenting. Bernard and Joan’s differing approaches to raising their children, coupled with their selfishness and disregard for each other, make for a poignant and thought-provoking story.

Baumbach’s direction, coupled with the outstanding performances of the cast, create a film that is both heartbreaking and hilarious. The film captures the complicated dynamics of a family falling apart, and how each member struggles to come to terms with their changing roles.

The Squid and the Whale to anyone who enjoys character-driven dramas that are both funny and poignant. The film’s exploration of family dynamics and the effects of divorce is timeless, and its themes continue to resonate with audiences today. The film also serves as a testament to Baumbach’s talents as a director and writer, and is a must-watch for fans of his work.

Garden State (2004)

Garden State is a romantic comedy-drama film written and directed by Zach Braff, who also stars in the lead role. The film was Braff’s directorial debut and went on to receive critical acclaim for its unique story and engaging characters.

The film tells the story of Andrew Largeman (Zach Braff), a struggling actor who returns to his hometown in New Jersey for his mother’s funeral. There, he meets Sam (Natalie Portman), a quirky and outgoing girl who changes his perspective on life. As they spend more time together, Andrew begins to confront the emotional issues that have been holding him back and discovers a new sense of purpose.

Zach Braff’s career began as an actor in the hit television show Scrubs, but it was with Garden State that he made his mark as a filmmaker. Braff’s direction is confident and assured, and he has a keen eye for capturing the emotional subtleties of his characters. He also wrote the film’s screenplay, which is both funny and poignant, and captures the essence of growing up and finding oneself.

Garden State is a must-see film for anyone who enjoys smart, funny, and touching cinema. It is a testament to the power of independent filmmaking and the importance of telling stories that resonate with audiences. Zach Braff’s direction and writing are excellent, and the performances by Braff and Natalie Portman are superb. If you haven’t seen Garden State yet, make sure to add it to your list of must-watch films.

Little Fugitive (1953)

Little Fugitive is an independent film directed by Ray Ashley, Morris Engel, and Ruth Orkin. The film, shot on location in Coney Island, was a landmark in American independent cinema, pioneering the use of lightweight, handheld cameras to capture a naturalistic and immersive style of filmmaking.

The story follows seven-year-old Joey, who runs away from home after his older brother Lennie tricks him into believing that he accidentally shot and killed him. Joey travels to Coney Island, where he must fend for himself and navigate the unfamiliar surroundings. He spends his days wandering the boardwalk and playing carnival games, all while trying to avoid being caught by the police and returned home.

The film is a touching and poignant portrayal of childhood innocence and wonder, as well as the struggles and challenges of growing up. The filmmakers eschew traditional Hollywood conventions, instead choosing to focus on the small details of everyday life and the experiences of ordinary people. The result is a film that feels raw, authentic, and deeply human. It’s a powerful reminder of the joys and sorrows of youth, and the beauty that can be found in the simplest moments of life.

Little Fugitive is a great film for anyone interested in independent cinema, as well as those who appreciate a good coming-of-age story. It’s a timeless classic that still resonates today, and a testament to the power of small-scale filmmaking to capture the beauty and complexity of the human experience.

The Taking of Pelham One Two Three (1974)

The Taking of Pelham One Two Three is a classic crime thriller film directed by Joseph Sargent. The film stars Walter Matthau, Robert Shaw, and Martin Balsam in lead roles. Joseph Sargent was a prolific television director, having directed over 60 television movies and series episodes.

The plot of the film revolves around the hijacking of a New York City subway train, Pelham One Two Three, by a group of armed men who demand a ransom of one million dollars. Walter Matthau plays the role of Lt. Zachary Garber, a transit police officer who leads the negotiation with the hijackers. Robert Shaw plays the role of Mr. Blue, the leader of the hijackers, and Martin Balsam plays the role of Mr. Green, his second in command. 

The film has some excellent performances, particularly those of Walter Matthau and Robert Shaw. Matthau’s portrayal of the wise-cracking and determined Lt. Garber is both humorous and heroic, while Shaw’s performance as the cold and calculating Mr. Blue is chilling and menacing. The film also features a memorable score by David Shire that adds to the suspense of the story.

The Taking of Pelham One Two Three is a classic crime thriller that is well worth watching. Its engaging plot, excellent performances, and gritty atmosphere make it a standout film in the genre. I highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys a good thriller.