NYC is a film lover’s dream town—just ask Woody Allen. 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.
Best NYC movie theaters
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The back room of this DVD-rental store is the latest addition to NYC’s recent crop of movie spots where you can drink and snack. Outfitted with communal tables, the no-frills space hosts a weekly, super competitive movie-trivia league (Tuesdays at 8:30pm; free) and screenings of recent releases, cult flicks and TV episodes. With tasty treats (mini s’mores, $1.50 each) and movie-inspired cocktails (Eternal Sunshine Blue Ruin, $8) on offer, there are plenty of reasons to make a night of it. Prices vary.