New York Film Locations

Top 5 NYC Holiday Films (That Weren't Meant To Be)

1 December 2012

It’s beginning to look a lot like… And you know the rest. It’s that time of year again in New York. The tree is up at Rockefeller Center, the Saks window display is set, the carolers have been unleashed, and theirs a jingling Santa outside every drug store. Every year when this time comes, kids and adults alike break out their VHS and DVD copies of their favorite Christmas movies. Because there’s no place more magical than New York City at Christmas, last year we capped off 2011 with a look at 10 of the best Christmas movies set in New York.

However, while everyone loves a traditional good holiday film, some of us might be in search of something a little different this year. Luckily, the list of great films that were filmed in and take place amongst New York City doesn’t stop with the classics. In addition to the feel good favorites oft flaunted during the holidays, there’s a batch of great New York City films that have also succeeded at showcasing the flare of New York at Christmastime, but from a slightly less traditional approach. While these might not be the lighthearted classics we watched with our parents, these 5 holiday films that will never make your typical “Christmas movie” list topped our charts for their originality, and of course, flair for the Big Apple.

5. Eyes Wide Shut (1999)

Tom Cruise in Eyes Wide Shut

In Stanley Kubricks’s masterfully dark exotic thriller, Dr. Bill Hartford (Tom Cruise) sets out on a Christmas adventure that makes the formerly risqué holiday movie moments like licking a frozen pole (A Christmas Story) seem suddenly underwhelming. After learning that his wife (Nicole Kidman) has been fantasizing about another man, the Doc sets off to purse some of his carnal desires. But what makes this film a Christmas miracle is that after a full confession, the naughty wife takes him back instead of putting coal in his stocking.

otsoNY Comments: While this film most definitely takes place in New York City, it just scraped its place as number 5 due to the lack of actual filming that took place within the city. Probably the most memorable actual NYC piece of the set is the exterior shot of Victor Zeigler’s mansion, which is really the Consulate General of the Republic of Poland on East 37th Street at Madison Avenue.

4. American Psycho (2000)

Christian Bale in American Psycho

In this twisted take on the modern serial killer, our hero Patrick Bateman (Christian Bale) celebrate Christmas with a bloody backdrop that the audience spends nearly two hours trying to decide whether its real or all just in his head. By day, Patrick runs Wallstreet, by night he indulges in his madness, all the while being dragged to holiday events like his girlfriend’s (Reese Witherspoon) Christmas party.

otsoNY Comments: Because the film is meant to take place in the opulent decade of the 80s, many of the real life New York shots are of dark, and traditional New York interiors that haven’t lost that 80s flavor. These include shots of a nightclub on 12th Avenue and the historic New York Yacht Club on Vanderbilt and East 44th Street.

3. Rosemary’s Baby

Mia Farrow in Rosemary's Baby

Over the course of a terrifying few months, Rosemary (Mia Farrow) lives in a private hell as she begins to realize the plans that her neighbors have for her unborn child. The thrills are classic, and so are the New York City scenes. This one’s most definitely not a holiday classic, but it’s a no brainer as a classic film set in New York.

otsoNY Comments: Over the course of the film, filming took place in many of New York’s most iconic spots, including the now-famed Bramford apartment building, which is actually The Dakota on 72nd Street and Central Park West. Also included is the infamous NYC Christmas landmark, Radio City Music Hall, all dressed up for the holiday’s and Rosematy’s wait.

2. 200 Cigarette’s

Jay Mohr and Kate Hudson in 200 Cigarettes

Filmed on New Year’s Eve in 1981, this ensemble cast mosaic follows a multiple-story path through the streets of the 1980’s as the many characters all attempt their fates at getting around NYC on their way to what becomes an infamous NYE’s bash. Even with appearances by Elvis Costello, Courtney Cox, Kate Hudson, Ben Affleck, and Dave Chappelle, the real star of the show in this film is the grittiness of the streets as the producers attempted to showcase the city, as she would have looked in real life on that night.

otsoNY Comments: Most of the scenes take place inside real New York bars, dressed to look like 1981, but there are also quite a few scenes on the street corners of the East Village, where much of the film is meant to take place.

1. The Royal Tenenbaums

Luke Wilson, Gwyneth Paltrow, Gene Hackman and Ben Stiller in The Royal Tenebaums

While it barely even mentions the fact that its set during the holidays, the dysfunctional attitude of the family members, constant awkward situations, and the backdrop of “Christmas Time is Here”, makes this quirky classic a top holiday film in our book. When the three grown Tenenbaum prodigies (Gwyneth Paltrow, Ben Stiller, and Luke Wilson) collide with their long-absent father (Gene Hackman) during the holiday season, hilarity ensures, and the real holiday spirit is somehow unveiled.

otsoNY Comments: Many of the scenes are filmed in and around The Tenenbaum House, whose real property is a house on West 144th Street and Convent Avenue. Other Manhattan sights include the infamous scene with Hackman in the oft-filmed Battery Park.

Submitted by Eve Robinson


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