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Angelika Film Center
Photograph: Courtesy Angelika Film Center/Evan Joseph Images

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!

Adam Goldman
Written by
Adam Goldman
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NYC is a film lover’s dream town. Whether you want something flashy and new or a classic from another era, there’s bound to be something you love—and that applies to choice of movie and venue. Presented in no particular order, here’s our list of favorite theaters to cozy up in during the winter or soak up some AC in the summer heat.

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Best NYC movie theaters

Film Forum
  • Movie theaters
  • Independent
  • West Village

Stepping into Film Forum feels like stepping back in time to a different version of New York. That’s appropriate since it’s been in operation since 1970. The vibe is cozy—not in the real estate sense that actually means "claustrophobic," but in the sense that you’ll feel right at home and want to stay for a while. In many ways, Film Forum is the anti-mega-cineplex: a unique NY institution that’s earned a spot on this list.

BAM Rose Cinemas
  • Movie theaters
  • Independent
  • Fort Greene

Going to BAM always feels like a special event, and with good reason. It’s a local institution and features some of the best film programming in the city. If you’re looking to get your face blown off by a cutting-edge sound system, look elsewhere. But if you want to see the latest festival darling or experience an old-school classic on the big screen for the first time, look no further.

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IFC Center
  • Movie theaters
  • Independent
  • West Village

This West Village standout boasts impressive series year-round for even the most eclectic tastes. Whatever your mood, there’s probably something playing today at IFC to match it. Its selection of eclectic midnight features can’t be beaten. Is it the most modern spot on this list? Definitely not, but the vibes are good. And don’t forget to check out their charming selection of merch for the cinephile in your life.


  • 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.

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  • Museums
  • Art and design
  • Midtown West
  • price 1 of 4

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. It’s not the right spot for popcorn-spilling, shouting-at-the-screen chaos, but if you want a retrospective on French new wave or a sneak peek at the indie movie everyone will be talking about in six months, there’s a good chance you can catch it here.

  • Movie theaters
  • Downtown Brooklyn
  • price 2 of 4

Alamo pioneered the whole “get dinner and a beer at the movies” vibe in the modern movie era, and they’ve got it down to an art. The seats are comfy, the popcorn has free refills (and it should, at $9 a bowl), and they program fan favorites year-round in addition to new hits. This list isn’t about pitting major chains against each other, but Alamo has carved out a niche and they’re darn good at what they do.

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  • Movie theaters
  • Independent
  • Midtown West
  • price 1 of 4

While the Paris has undergone some changes in the last few years (they were bought by Netflix in 2019), it’s still an institution. Since 1948 the Paris has been Manhattan’s largest single-screen movie theater with a staggering 571 seats. Fortunately, Netflix hasn’t slouched on programming the classic cinematheque or given it over entirely to screening their own productions.

  • Movie theaters
  • Independent
  • Greenwich Village
  • price 1 of 4

Want to catch a movie in what feels like a futuristic spaceport? Your options are limited but the Quad has you covered. The stunning results of its 2017 renovation are worth a look for the aesthetics alone, but the programming is impressively varied as well. The overall impression is that your experience here has been carefully curated, and that’s a very good thing.

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  • Movie theaters
  • Multiplex
  • Upper West Side

There has to be somewhere in the city to see the latest tower, bone-vibrating blockbuster, right? Your options for chain multiplexes are plentiful, but the AMC on 68th is huge, bright and clean. Plus it has the largest IMAX screen in the country and projects in gloriously massive 70mm. Not the best place to catch Drive My Car, but Dune is another story.

 

Angelika Film Center
  • Movie theaters
  • Independent
  • Greenwich Village
  • price 1 of 4

Alright, look: the Angelika is a classic and I will not hear any argument to the contrary, OK? And not just because Angelika Film Center is a great drag name. It’s true that taking the escalator down from the lobby feels a little like descending to the center of the earth but some of us enjoy that, and while the theater might occasionally rumble with the audible vibrations of a nearby passing subway I would argue that this adds character to the experience. Long live the Angelika and long live the movies!

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  • Movie theaters
  • Independent
  • Williamsburg
  • price 2 of 4

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.

Anthology Film Archives
  • Movie theaters
  • Independent
  • East Village
  • price 1 of 4

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.

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  • 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.

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