A Boston film is one that highlights the citizens, the atmosphere, and ways of life (not “Legally Blonde” or “The Social Network”). Honorable mentions include “Blown Away,” with Jeff Bridges and Tommy Lee Jones as Irish bomb makers, in which a police truck explodes in Kenmore Square, “Edge of Darkness” with Mel Gibson, shot in Boston and Northampton, and the original “Thomas Crown Affair” with gorgeous shots of Back Bay. “The Fighter” is not included in the list as this reviewer has yet to have the ability to fully analyze it. However, Christian Bale’s performance is absolutely riveting and spot on.
#5: “The Boondock Saints” (1999)
Troy Duffy’s gritty and comic throwback to vigilante films explodes with over the top action and great use of Boston locales. It’s just a fun and crazy film. Willem Dafoe as a gay and at one point, cross dressing, cop solidifies this film as memorable and entertaining.
#4: “Gone Baby Gone” (2007)/”The Town” ( 2010)
Both films successfully beat Dennis Lehane’s “Mystic River” for a spot at the list. Ben Affleck, who directed both of these films, fully utilizes the locations, beauty and danger of Boston. From shooting a robbery at Fenway Park to just shots of South Boston, he captures the enthralling nature of Boston. He’s also one the best directors on the list who doesn’t overplay the accents. Watch the nominated performances of Amy Ryan (“Gone Baby Gone”) and Jeremy Renner (“The Town”) as unapologetic, scene-stealing Bostonians.
#3: “Monument Ave.” (1998)
Denis Leary’s tour de force about a low level Charlestown car thief who must combat his boss, the murder of his cousin, the police, and the town’s code of silence. It’s a startling character piece that really encapsulates the heritage and struggles of the life in Charlestown. Fans of “Rescue Me” will enjoy the overlap in cast and references.
#2: “The Departed” (2006)
Crime thrillers don’t get as exciting as “The Departed,” and this is the film to bring attention to Boston and create the 30 percent tax incentive to film here. Rapid and witty dialogue (this is one of the more quotable films on the list) and explosive performances by Jack Nicholson, Mark Wahlberg, and Leonardo DiCaprio drive the movie.
#1: “The Friends of Eddie Coyle” (1973)
Hands down, the best film set in Boston (“Fever Pitch” might have a chance next time). Essentially a big influence on “The Departed” and “The Town” as it deals with a low level criminal played by the legendary Robert Mitchum, who must contend with facing 20 years in prison and ratting out his criminal friends (including Alex Rocco, a fringe member of the Winter Hill Gang) and getting caught. “The Friends of Eddie Coyle” is a low-key film, absolutely driven by incredible performances and dark noir touches. It is truly a classic.
Sam Dang can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.