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Film Forum marquee
Photograph: Peter Aaron

The best NYC movie theaters

Whether you're into indies, classics or new releases, here are the best NYC movie theaters to watch your flick

By Tim Lowery

NYC is a film lover’s dream town .And we’ve assembled a list of the choicest NYC movie theaters to see indie gems, great documentaries, controversial classics or the best movies of all time. There are even some spots where you can nosh on house-made snacks or toss back a drink while you watch. 

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Best NYC movie theaters

Anthology Film Archives

Movie theaters Independent East Village

This red-brick building feels a bit like a fortress—and in a sense, it is one, protecting the legacy of NYC’s fiercest experimenters. Anthology is committed to screening the world’s most adventurous fare, from 16mm found-footage works to digital video dreams. It also houses a gallery and film museum. $10; seniors, students $8; AFA members and children (12 and under) $6.

BAM Rose Cinemas

Movie theaters Independent Fort Greene

For 17 years, Brooklyn cinéastes have flocked to the four screening rooms at the elegant Peter Jay Sharp Building. Showings, from indies made on a shoestring budget to retrospectives on noted directors, are expertly curated, and big names (Jim Jarmusch, Noah Baumbach) occasionally drop in for prefilm talks. The annual BAMcinemaFest, held each June, screens NYC, U.S. and world premieres, including flicks that have made a splash at Sundance, SXSW and Cannes. $14; seniors, students (Mon–Thu only) and children (weekdays) $10; BAM Cinema Club members $7.


Cobble Hill Cinemas

Movie theaters Independent Carroll Gardens

If you’re looking to catch a new blockbuster or awards-season contender, this five-screen throwback is a nice alternative to those maddening multiplexes. Crowds are noticeably more respectful, and retro touches like prescreening announcements to turn off your pagers and refrain from smoking add to the old-school charm. On certain days and times, admission is reduced to seven bones (Tue, Thu all day; Mon, Wed, Fri until 5pm). $10, seniors and children $7; 3D admission $12, children $9; Tue, Thu (except special occasions) $7; Mon, Wed, Fri until 5pm $7.

Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center
Photograph: Albert Vecerka

Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center

Movie theaters Independent Upper West Side

In 2011, Lincoln Center unveiled this ahead-of-the-curve project. The center is split into two super-stylish theaters, plus an 87-seat amphitheater that boasts the largest plasma screen in the world. Heavyweight directors such as Pedro Almodóvar and Oliver Stone have stopped by to talk shop; microbudget indies, cool retrospectives, and critically acclaimed international films and docs round out the programming. $14; students, seniors and children $11; members $9.


Film Forum

Movie theaters Independent West Village

This cinephile haven has arguably the best roster of classic films in town—it’s almost as if the Criterion Collection opened its own theater. Many of FF’s revival screenings are presented in spiffy new prints and are occasionally introduced by the stars (Something Wild’s Carroll Baker appears Sat 19 at 4:40pm). The lineup of new international indies is top-notch, too. If you view moviegoing as a nonchatty—or even solo—endeavor, this is the place for you. If you like butter on your popcorn, however, you’re out of luck: FF’s Orville Redenbacher kernels, delicious as they are, come sans the greasy stuff. $13, seniors (Mon–Fri before 5pm) and members $7.50.

IFC Center

Movie theaters Independent West Village

This Village standout hosts a wide variety of offerings on its five screens: new shorts and indies, stoner-friendly midnight movies (Eraserhead, The Big Lebowski), and classic and foreign-film retrospectives. The series here are typically stellar, but our favorite is Stranger than Fiction, which brings docs, their directors and, occasionally, their subjects to the theater on most Tuesday evenings. $14, IFC members $9, seniors and children 12 and under $10.

Museum of Modern Art
Photograph: Timothy Hursley

Museum of Modern Art (MoMA)

Museums Art and design Midtown West

This venerable midtown art institution houses three theaters, which hold 50 to 400 film buffs each. It’s a prime spot for classic, arty, under-the-radar and cult fare from across the globe. Currently, MoMA is in the midst of its “Scorsese Screens” series (through Sept 6), in which they're showing 33 of the world-cinema masterpieces that had a formative influence on the work of America’s greatest living director. $12, seniors $10, students $8, children free, Fri 4–8pm free.

Museum of the Moving Image Extension
Photograph: Peter Aaron Esto

Museum of the Moving Image

Museums Movies and TV Astoria

While promoting the reopening of Astoria’s ginormous homage to the silver screen in 2011, film curator David Schwartz described heading into the 267-seat theater as “entering a spaceship and going on a voyage.” We’re hard-pressed to characterize the trippy, almost podlike space any better. Moving Image manages to land some big gets for Q&As (such as Lincoln scribe Tony Kushner) and programs an intriguing mix of cutting-edge world and experimental cinema, classics (sometimes in that rarely screened, beautiful 70-millimeter format) and New York premieres. $12, seniors and students $9, children 3–12 $6, members and children under 3 free.


Nitehawk Cinema

Movie theaters Independent Williamsburg

The current king of NYC eat-and-booze cinemas (at least until the Alamo Drafthouse opens in Brooklyn, though plans for that theater have changed so many times that we're no longer holding our breath), this popular hybrid serves themed top-shelf cocktails and eats during first-run showings. Nitehawk also programs old faves, brunch and midnight screenings, bands playing over experimental shorts by locals, and viewings that include a beer-pairing dinner. $11, seniors and children $9.


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