New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

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5 NYC movies to get you excited about being back on campus

The best movies for living your main-character life.

For many students, our first taste of New York City was through the silver screen. Whether it was watching the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man trample through Midtown or Meg Ryan climax to a pastrami sandwich, we saw the city highlighted in cinema as a landscape of boundless — albeit usually chaotic — possibilities. While a lot of these films couldn’t be further from reality, for those living in the city, they carry essential truths and immortalize quotidian details. In New York, people fall in love at the top of the Empire State Building, doomed lovers break up in the rain and then get back together in a scenic shot overlooking the Brooklyn Bridge.

Although the Big Apple can sometimes feel like a frosty wasteland of tedious lectures and endless Brightspace assignments, films have the power to reignite that dormant passion for the city we all have deep down. The WSN Arts Desk has compiled a list of timeless New York movie classics — everything from an iconic page-to-screen adaptation, to an underrated Chinatown dramedy — to get you excited for the semester ahead. 

“The Devil Wears Prada” (2006)

A woman stands in an office with fashion posters displayed on white closet doors, tossing her jacket to a woman sitting at a desk.
(Courtesy of 20th Century Fox)

Bright-eyed and bushy-tailed Andrea Sachs (Anne Hathaway) quickly gets the classic city  welcome when she is hired as an assistant at Runway, this fictional world’s version of Vogue. She’s subjected to hangry models and other assistants, all of whom tell her that “a million girls would kill for this job.” As she bends over backwards to please her unpleasable boss Miranda Priestly (Meryl Streep), Andy learns her both own limits and those of New York journalism. 

“The Intern” (2015)

A woman wearing a white shirt and a gray jacket, a man wearing a light blue shirt and a gray suit and a woman wearing a red dress talking to one another around a desk piled with documents and folders in an office.
(Courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures)

After the loss of his wife and growing bored of retirement, Ben Whittaker (Robert De Niro) applies to be a senior intern at a fashion company in Brooklyn, at the ripe age of 70. Ben works alongside the CEO of the company, Jules Ostin (Anne Hathaway), who is quite unaccepting toward him at first — she expected a high school senior to take on the position. Despite his old age, Ben proves to become an integral asset to help the company grow. Over time, Jules and Ben form a sweet friendship regardless of their age gap, and become each other’s chosen family.

“Sleepless in Seattle” (1993)

A woman wearing a dark blue jacket with a light blue scarf with floral print and a man wearing a beige jacket talking to each other at a train station. A little boy holding a teddy bear stands beside the man while looking at the woman.
(Courtesy of TriStar Pictures)

Okay, yes, “Sleepless in Seattle,” is, in fact, based in Seattle. But, hear us out. An 8-year-old Jonah Baldwin (Ross Malinger) calls into a radio talk show on Christmas Eve to ask for advice for his recently widowed father, Sam Baldwin (Tom Hanks). Sam finds Jonah on the phone and ends up telling thousands of listeners across the country how much he misses his late wife. Meanwhile, Annie Reed (Meg Ryan) is listening to the show while driving to her fiancè’s family home for Christmas. Convinced that Sam may be her fated match, Annie travels to Seattle. After this trip, she proposes, by mail, that the two of them should meet at the top of the Empire State Building, where their fate will be determined.

“Breakfast at Tiffany’s” (1961)

A bird’s-eye shot of a woman playing the guitar on her balcony. She is wearing blue jeans and sitting in her window.
(Courtesy of Paramount Pictures)

Holly Golightly (Audrey Hepburn) is New York’s first fashionista socialite, who lives her life one elegantly angled cigarette at a time. She becomes tangled in a casual affair with her new neighbor, author and part-time gigolo Paul Varjak. Together they brave the storm of New York, poverty and disagree on their own definitions of love. “Moon River,” Holly’s heartfelt ballad she sings via fire escape, represents her classic glamorous existential crisis. Cat is her orange-haired fluffy companion who is also a cat and sleeps in a record player. This movie would be perfect, if not for the blatant racism. 

“An Autumn’s Tale” (1987)

A man holding a red milk crate stands beside a woman wearing a scarf. They are both looking at some unseen subject in the distance. A man wearing an American flag shirt while holding a guitar stands beside them.
(Courtesy of D & B Pictures)

Jennifer (Cherie Chung) arrives at Hoboken Station to find her dreams of a stateside romance crushed. After flying halfway around the world from Hong Kong to be reunited with her boyfriend Vincent (Danny Chan Pak-Keung), she finds him with another woman. Enraged and heartbroken, she is left to wander the grimy streets of ’80s New York with her family friend Samuel Pang (Chow Yun-fat) — a gambling-addicted busboy. Throughout the course of the film, the unlikely duo drive recklessly down the streets of Manhattan, break bread in Chinatown and play baseball at East River Park — forming an immutable bond. A classic “will-they, won’t-they” rom-com, “An Autumn’s Tale” quintessentially captures the city as a beacon of hope and a site for dramatic reinvention.

Contact the Arts Desk at [email protected].

About the Contributors
Julia Diorio, Music Editor
Julia Diorio is a sophomore studying journalism at CAS. When not reminiscing about 2000s pop-punk music, she can normally be found drinking copious amounts of Dunkin' iced coffee, curating hyper-specific Spotify playlists or struggling with the NYT crossword. Find her variations of all-black outfits and dog pictures on Instagram @juliadiorio_. Send song suggestions to [email protected].
Mick Gaw, Film & TV Editor
Mick Gaw is a junior double-majoring in History and Public Policy. When he’s not holed up in a cinema, he's probably perusing the aisles of an Asian grocery store, wandering around museums or taking ugly pictures of his meals. You can find him on Instagram as @gawmick and occasionally on Letterboxd as @micks_canon.
Alexa Donovan, Deputy Arts Editor
Alexa Donovan is a sophomore majoring in Journalism and Art History and minoring in Creative Writing. Her favorite drink is lemonade and her party trick is listing the U.S. presidents in chronological order. You can find her in Bobst Library most hours of the day, on instagram @alexadonovan/@lemonadequeen5678 and on Goodreads @alexafdonovan.
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