As a major metro city, Boston is usually the setting for thrillers and dramas, rather than lighthearted romps. However, it’s those more intense movie genres that often receive awards, so Boston appears in many highly-regarded movies. From films based on Dennis Lehane novels – in which Boston is practically a character – to movies showing Fenway Park, this list features films shot in and around your favorite city.
1. The Thomas Crown Affair (1968)
Sure, the remake of
The Thomas Crown Affair was fun, but you can’t beat the original. The film tells the story of a Boston millionaire who engineers a heist and faces off against an insurance investigator. The movie was innovative for its use of split screens. Critics awarded the film a 79% positive rating on the review website Rotten Tomatoes, while the audience gave it a rating of 74%. Locations featured include Tobin Bridge, Acorn Street, Copp’s Hill, and Boston Common.
2. Mystic River (2003)
You’ll see shots filmed in East Boston, JP, Chelsea, Southie, Charlestown, Tobin Bridge, Long Crouch Woods in Franklin Park, and more in this captivating crime movie. Warner Bros. wanted the film to be shot in Toronto, but director Clint Eastwood was determined to use locations in Boston to keep in line with the Dennis Lehane novel that inspired the screen adaptation. Mystic River was shot in a mere 39 days and went on to earn ratings of 87% from critics and 89% from audience reviewers on Rotten Tomatoes.
3. Patriots Day (2017)
This intense movie focuses on the heroes of the tragic Boston Marathon bombing, from first responders to those leading the manhunt to catch the perpetrators. While this may be too tough for some Bostonians to watch, it does showcase the strength of our city. The movie was filmed in Boston, Malden, Watertown, Somerville, Framingham, Peabody, South Weymouth, and Quincy. (Pictured: a prop news van used in the movie.)
4. Friends of Eddie Coyle (1973)
This film, based on a best-selling novel, was a winner with critics and viewers alike. It tells the story of Eddie Coyle, a weapons dealer turned snitch whose buddy is tasked with eliminating him. Robert Mitchum played Coyle and worked on his Boston accent with the help of four local cops. Scalise is played by Alex Rocco, who once belonged to The Winter Hill Gang – an actual Boston gang. Government Center, Boston Bowl in Dorchester, and numerous areas of Greater Boston, like Quincy, Dedham, and Malden, appear in the movie.
5. The Departed (2006)
With a 91% critic score and a 94% approval rating from the audience,
The Departed is an engrossing gangster drama. Though mostly shot in New York, expect to spot familiar locations from Chinatown, Quincy, Charlestown, and Lynn in the movie. The film explores Irish gang life in Southie and involves a cop who is working undercover within a gang, as well as a mobster who has infiltrated the state police. Jack Nicholson was supposed to don a Sox cap during the film, but insisted on wearing his Yankees cap instead (boo!).
6. Shutter Island (2010)
This Martin Scorsese movie is set in 1954 at a mental asylum perched on an island. Cue sinister disappearances, a hurricane, a personal vendetta, and is an edge-of-your seats movie experience.
Shutter Island was shot on Peddocks Island and shows Boston Harbor. There’s a fair amount of CGI at work, but you’ll also notice locations from towns around Boston like Medfield (the state hospital, Nahant, and Hull.
7. Gone Baby Gone (2007)
This Boston-based drama garnered a whopping 94% score from critics and an 86% rating from the audience. The plot revolves around two private detectives with shady connections who work to solve a young girl’s kidnapping. Extras on the movie are actual Boston locals and actress Amy Ryan received praise for her authentic-sounding Boston accent. Check out the movie for yourself to see what you think! Familiar locations include the Quincy Quarries, Mount Auburn Cemetery, and places in Medford, Dorchester, Cambridge, Lynn, Southie, Waltham, and Winchester. (Pictured: Ben Affleck directing
Gone Baby Gone.)
8. Good Will Hunting (1997)
Will Hunting isn’t just smart, he’s "wicked smart!" You can’t reference Boston movies without mentioning Good Will Hunting and, before you point out that Cambridge isn’t Boston, know that the film also features locations in Southie, the Public Garden, and Mass Pike.
9. Field of Dreams (1989)
This beloved baseball movie includes a scene shot at Fenway Park. Fun fact: Ben Affleck and Matt Damon worked as extras in the Fenway scene before they became famous!
10. Moneyball (2011)
Fenway also briefly shows up in
Moneyball, which received several Oscar nominations and is a top choice for moviegoers who don’t usually enjoy baseball movies!
How many of these movies have you seen? Boston has served as a location in many compelling films. What other big-screen recommendations would you add to this list? Let us know in the comments so we can watch them on our next movie night!