1.Wall Street (1987)
The final confrontation in Oliver Stone’s mighty ’80s tale of greed, fathers and sons, and capitalism, takes place in Central Park. A gorgeous extreme long shot captures the expanse of green cropped by the gray buildings and some low-hanging mist. Gordon Gekko (Michael Douglas) and Bud Fox (Charlie Sheen) approach each other for one last talk. Only Fox is wearing a wire, intent on taking down Gekko for his corrupt business practices. The park typically functions as a place of reprieve. Before Stone’s camera, it becomes the site of a duel.–RS
2. Miracle on 34th St. (1947)
For New Yorkers and Jersey folks alike, the massive, one-stop-shop Macy’s located in midtown Manhattan, on 34th Street, isn’t exactly a magical place come December. Once the building gets overrun by eager, at times physically forceful Christmas shoppers, the retail destination turns ugly. Hundreds of dollars are lost into cash registers, thousands of elbows get thrown into already disgruntled patrons, and long lines elicit just as many “Bah humbug!” sounds as they do “Cha-ching!” noises.
Fortunately, we’ll always have the holiday movie staple Miracle on 34th Streetto remind us that said Macy’s doesn’t have to be a misery hub. In the uplifting, family-friendly flick, Kris Kringle (Edwund Gwenn) greets little boys and girls with a huge smile, joviality, and promises of bringing them whatever toys they want—that’s because, as he claims, he’s the real-deal Santa Claus.
And Miracle on 34th Street, with all of its thematic happiness and heartwarming innocence, is the genuine article when it comes to film as a medium for making dreams come true—even as wallets deplete. –MB
3. Sleepless in Seattle (1993)
As a nod to An Affair to Remember, a would-be couple agrees to meet on the observation deck of the Empire State Building on Valentine’s Day. Which is crazy romantic, except for the fact that they’ve never met before. Sam’s son basically hooked them up, and he was, like, nine.
It may sound more creepy than sentimental, but ignore our cynicism. Thanks in part to the film being backed by America’s sweethearts, Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan, the fateful meeting atop one of NYC’s greatest landmarks has become one of the most recognizable scenes in movie history, cementing the skyscraper’s status as one of the most enchanted places in Manhattan.-TA
4. Home Alone 2 (1992)
Forget its view of Central Park, its Grand Ballroom, and the pesky little girl Eloise, the only reason we’re interested in the Plaza is to check into suite 411 a la Kevin McAllister during a memorable scene in Home Alone 2. There was something so satisfying about watching a kid undermine the staff of one of the ritzy places in NYC, pull off credit fraud with his dad’s Visa, and basically embark in every overprotected kid’s fantasy of freely venturing around a big city. Unfortunately, the check in area of the movie is now the residents-only area, and closed off to us poor beggars who try to experience something in the movies.-TA
5. Requiem For A Dream (2000)
The contrast is unforgettable. Surrounded by games for kids, restaurants for families, and a beach for relaxation, the Coney Island Boardwalk has long represented a nostalgia-inducing funland for New Yorkers. And for Harry Goldfarb (Jared Leto), one of the four drug-addicted characters in Darren Aronofsky’s devastating Requiem for a Dream, it embodies everything that his life isn’t, but that he wishes it to be, if only through his dreams.
Requiem for a Dream qualifies as one of the most depressing movies ever made, of course, so it’s only fitting that Coney Island’s fantasy vibe quickly gives way to sadness. Harry, walking toward the boardwalk’s edge, hoping to reach his salvation, falls off of it and deeper into his own personal hell. –MB
6. Men In Black (1997)
The fairgrounds at Flushing Meadows-Corona Park haven’t been that popular since the 1964 World Fair, unless you’re a skateboarder. Teen skaters have since claimed the turf as a skate spot, and don’t face dangers of being abducted or having their minds erased.
The former New York State Pavilion’s observation towers are better remembered as the ships the first aliens used to visit Earth in Men in Black. If you failed to notice that, it’s probably because you were too concerned with alien captives escaping during the climax of the film. And, just like it was destroyed by a flying saucer in the movie, the unofficial symbol of Queens, which hasn’t aged well, is up to be demolished in real life. –TA
7. Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961)
For many girls fantasizing about the city that never sleeps, there is no scene more iconic than Audrey Hepburn as Holly Golightly, enjoying her simple breakfast of a French pastry and a street-cart coffee in front of Tiffany’s window, as if to peer into an enchanted life she came to the city to achieve. In her little black dress from the night before, her hair tied up, her sunglasses, and her pearls, Hepburn completely embodied the mysterious and free-spirited drifter first introduced to us in Truman Capote’s novella of the same name. Essentially, Golighty in this scene represents a truth about the exclusivity of upper-crust Manhattan, and the restless ambition to break into it that characterizes every dreamer who moves to the big city.-TA
8. Taxi Driver (1976)
Considering that he eventually shaves his head and goes on a killing spree, it’s not surprise that Travis Bickle (Robert De Niro) is romantically dysfunctional. Well, actually, that’s putting it lightly—dude’s dating skills are downright creepy.
Near the beginning of Martin Scorsese’s Taxi Driver, disturbed NYC cabbie Bickle develops a strong crush on Betsy (Cybil Shepherd), a political campaign volunteer who, bless her soul, lets Bickle take her out on a date, to the place of his choosing, no less. So where does Bickle pick for their first evening out together? A seedy skin flick den in Times Square.
And, believe it or not, Betsy isn’t having it. Some women just can’t be charmed. –MB
9. The Seven Year Itch (1955)
Among the many beautiful, sometimes haunting images we have of Marilyn Monroe, perhaps the most memorable comes from this memorable scene. Marilyn with nary a hint of hurt in her eyes, is bright, ebullient even, as her white dress is whipped up while she stands over the subway grates. As Marilyn’s married neighbor (Tom Ewell) looks on, his desire for her is heightened, along with the rest of America’s. Never is Marilyn more gleefully exhibitionist, reveling in the camera’s lens as much as we revel in the revealing glimpse (at least, for the time) of her white panties.–SC
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10. Sex and the City
Every episode of this movie is priceless for Manhattan lovers. It shows every part of the real life of real New Yorkers. New York… Unbelievable and fantastic! This show featured every detail of our captivating and magical city! Almost every girl dreamt about moving to Manhattan after Carrie finally married mr. Big. I mean, I did. And, well, I kind of moved. 😉