10 New York City Movies That Should be Mandatory Viewing

New York Nico and Kareem Rahma sit down after the release of their film “Out of Order” to deliver you NYC movie gold.
​Ernie (Kareem Rahma​​) in ​Out of Order​.
Ernie (Kareem Rahma) in Out of Order
All the good shit you should be watching, as curated by the East London film club Deeper Into Movies.

Nicolas Heller, better known as New York Nico, is an American filmmaker and social media personality. Nicknamed the "unofficial talent scout of New York", Heller uses his platform to share photos, videos and stories showcasing life in New York City. 

His big-hearted Instagram account puts a loving spotlight on eccentric characters, small businesses and food spots of the city. He's no influencer –instead, Heller is more an NYC tour guide, leading followers to the heart of the city.


Heller has recently stepped behind the camera to make Out of Order, a short film that follows the journey of a 30-year-old named Ernie who is searching for an ever-elusive bathroom before heading to an important first date. You can watch it on VICE here.

Heller and the film’s co-writer and star Kareem Rahma sat down together to create and discuss their lists of quintessential New York films.

Deeper into Movies

Kareem Rahma’s picks

First and foremost, I am not a true, really real New Yorker. I’m a silly little transplant who has been here for 10 years. They say I can call myself a New Yorker and I feel like one… but TBD on what real New Yorkers say, since the goalposts change with every season. SO! Go easy on me. I’m not saying that these movies are the absolute best New York films ever, but I do think that they resonated with me and they’re the ones that standout in my head the most. — Kareem Rahma

‘When Harry Met Sally’ (1989), directed by Rob Reiner 

Kareem Rahma: This is one of the best movies ever made and in my opinion, it’s definitely defendable as the best romcom ever made. I love Nora Ephron so much. Her screenplays, but also her as a human being. I love her obsession with necks. Also, I guess I’ll sneak another movie into this portion, which is a documentary about Nora called Everything is Copy. This film kind of changed my life and the way I approached creativity and work.


‘Home Alone 2: Lost In New York’ (1992), directed by Chris Columbus

Rahma: I can’t tell you how many times I watched this film as a youngster in Minnesota. It is one of the seminal films of my youth. When I was young, my family never visited New York. In fact, I didn’t visit until I was an adult, around 23 years old… So this film is how I learned about New York City. It’s surprisingly accurate, no? It’s such a magical film, but it's so rooted in reality. Pigeon Lady must be based on a real person. Also, there are so many pop cultural moments in this film. Everyone knows the pizza in the limo scene. The Trump cameo. Also, the Wet Bandits are fucking lit. I feel like every MF in Soho dresses like these two now. 

‘After Hours’ (1985), directed by Martin Scorsese 

Rahma: I hadn’t seen or even heard of this film until 2021 when Nico referenced it in one of our conversations. I don’t think a lot of people know about this film… It’s kind of a Scorsese deep-cut anomaly. Has he ever made another movie like this one? I don’t think so. This is part of the Yuppie Nightmare Cycle [described by film writer Bianca Gardner as] “a subgenre of films which came about in the 80s. Coined by author Leighton Grist, the ‘yuppie nightmare cycle’ usually follows a white male young urban professional (a ‘yuppie’) who is pulled into a hidden nightmarish world, usually lured in by a femme fatale”.  Anyways, Nico told me to watch this and it became one of the primary reference points for our film Out of Order


Nicolas Heller: After Hours is in my Top 10 for sure. One of Scorsese’s best. It was a huge inspo for Out of Order. Total NYC chaos. 

‘Daddy Longlegs’ (2009), directed by Josh & Benny Safdie 

Rahma: Obviously I love Good Time and Uncut Gems, but after watching both of those I wanted to explore the Safdie back catalogue. Daddy Longlegs just might be my favourite one. It’s so simple, yet so complex. Also, I love that their longtime co-writer Ronald Bronstein plays Lenny, the main character. Give this man more roles (if he wants them!).

‘Frances Ha’ (2012), directed by Noah Baumbach  

Rahma: I’m aware that this is a really cheesy choice, but in 2012 when I moved here I watched this movie, and anytime anything happened I blurted out “OMG, that’s so New York!” I thought this film was so good. Upon rewatching it in 2021, I found most of the characters to be insufferable, but I still think it deserves to be on the list.

Heller: Saw it once when it came out, don’t remember a single thing about it other than it being in black and white and Greta Gerwig skips around a lot. Was Kylo Ren in it too?


Nicolas Heller’s picks

Right before the pandemic, I set out to watch every NY film ever made and rank them. I only ended up watching about 100 films before I got exhausted, but I do intend on picking it up again eventually. Everyone has the same few NY films as their “favourites” so I wanted to stay away from the obvious with this list. Here are a few of my must see NY movies. — Nico Heller

‘Midnight Cowboy’ (1969), directed by John Schlesinger

Heller: Probably my favourite movie ever made. I think Dustin Hoffman’s Ratso Rizzo is one of the best character portrayals in film history. Obviously this film gets its praise, but the younger generation seems to overlook it, which is a shame. 

Rahma: I haven’t watched this film in a really long time, but you know what is really weird? This was my dad’s favourite movie. We used to watch it together. Obviously, he didn’t really care about ratings because as I remember it this movie was definitely for adults. 

‘Taking of Pelham 123’ (1974), directed by John Sargent

Heller: We are talking about the original here. The remake wasn’t as terrible as you would think, but the original is just phenomenal. It’s so old school NY, it hurts. 

‘Good Time’ (2017), directed by Josh & Benny Safdie 

Heller: Love the Safdie Brothers. Everything they do is incredible and so authentically NY. This movie, however, is my favourite for sure. The energy is unlike anything I’ve seen before. One of the best soundtracks of the past five years as well. 


Rahma: I remember I watched this the first time at Nitehawk, right when it came out and I was like: “I like it, but I’m not obsessed with it or anything”, and then I watched it a second-time around a few years later and I was like “I get it. This is an A+ film.”

‘25th Hour’ (2002), directed by Spike Lee 

Heller: One of my favourite Spike Lee joints. I watched this so many times in high school. Edward Norton’s mirror monologue is classic. And love the club scene when Philip Seymour Hoffman is doing the classic Spike Lee float. 

Rahma: This movie is very scary to me. I love the premise and Edward Norton fucking RIPS in this role. I’m always surprised that it’s directed by Spike Lee, because it doesn’t really seem like a Spike Lee joint.

‘The Drop’ (2014), directed by Michaël R. Roskam

Heller: Very, very underrated NY crime film. Tom Hardy plays a Brooklynite better than some Brooklynites. Also, one of James Gandolfini’s last roles. Highly recommended.