As the city of Boston recovers from the bombings that rocked the nation recently, the terrorist act has united the country behind the city that birthed the nation hundreds of years ago. Hollywood’s adoration for Beantown is long documented as many of our great films have been set there.
As the phrase Boston Strong has emerged from the ashes of the Boston Marathon attack, Movie Fanatic shows our support for the city that cannot be broken by naming the top 10 movies that took place in the city where civic pride has never been in short supply!
New England-bred Seth MacFarlane has long been one of Boston’s biggest fans and for his first feature film, he set his Mark Wahlberg comedy in the Massachusetts capital. Ted is a living, breathing teddy bear given to Wahlberg’s character when he was a young boy. They have become connected at the hip, much to the dismay of girlfriend Mila Kunis. Hilarity is rampant in this instant classic.
One of the most hilarious moments in the film is directed firmly at that classic Boston accent when Ted tells Wahlberg’s character why you don’t date Boston girls. Yes, it has something to do with moaning in that accent and a craving of Pepperidge Farm! Want a bevy of examples of its hilarity... check out the Ted quotes!
9. Monument Ave
Denis Leary has long celebrated Boston in his stand-up, and his portrayal of Bobby O’Grady was his chance to inhabit a classic character born of the streets of the celebrated city. O’Grady is a small-time hoodlum who is torn between loyalty to his boss and the desire to seek vengeance for the murder of his cousin.
8. The Firm
John Grisham more often than not sets his books in the southern part of the United States. But, what could be argued is his most successful book -- and in turn film -- begins its story in Boston where we meet the Tom Cruise up-and-coming lawyer. Sure, in The Firm, he moves to Memphis to take a dream job. But, we believe it is his rebellious Boston roots that lead him to turn on the firm he loves when he learns they really are solely in existence to represent the mob. Does The Firm have one of the best Tom Cruise movie moments? It's up there!
7. Mystic River
Clint Eastwood’s 2003 Mystic River is an astoundingly powerful film with an all-star cast including Sean Penn, Tim Robbins, Laurence Fishburne, Marcia Gay Harden and Kevin Bacon. The story follows three boys that we meet in 1975 Boston when something truly horrible happens to them.
The story fast forwards to the present where the trio of friends have grown apart. Things get really intense when one of their daughters is murdered and the violent act opens up old wounds and threatens to bring past horrors to light.
6. The Friends of Eddie Coyle
The 1973 crime film astounds in its ability to capture the power of the novel of the same name by George V. Higgins. The film stars classic tough guys Robert Mitchum and Peter Boyle and features the duo in a test-of-loyalty film that shows how important brotherhood and friendship is to those who inhabit the famed city.
5. Good Will Hunting
The film that put Matt Damon and Ben Affleck on the map could not have been more personal for the two young stars. The duo wrote the screenplay for Good Will Hunting (and won an Oscar for it) about a gifted young man from the rough streets of Boston, who is working as a janitor at one of the nation’s finest universities. He is torn between a world that is opening to him, thanks to a professor played by Robin Williams, and his friend (Affleck) who doesn’t want Damon to forget where he came from.
4. The Fighter
The Fighter technically doesn’t take place in Boston. It is set in nearby Lowell, which because of its tenacity of character -- we must include it in the films that show how the entire wider landscape of Boston is so strong.
Mark Wahlberg is Micky Ward and Christian Bale is Dicky Eklund, two brothers with a penchant for boxing talent. As Eklund wastes his talent on drugs, Ward struggles to make a name for himself. Their triumphant true story inspires millions as Ward became a hero not only of Boston, Lowell and greater Massachusetts, but the entire boxing world. Is The Fighter 2 in the works?
3. The Town
Affleck again celebrates his home town with this powerful tale of a part of the city that has become synonymous with bank robberies. Affleck directed and stars in The Town as the leader of the crew that includes Oscar nominee Jeremy Renner that has gotten quite good at taking down banks and getting away with it.
As federal agent Jon Hamm closes in, their biggest heist may be their downfall. What do they want to rob? Why… it’s a Boston institution: Fenway Park!
2. The Verdict
Paul Newman (Cool Hand Luke) gives one of the greatest performances of his life as a Boston lawyer, who it seems has wasted his legal talents on decades of boozing. Then, he gets the case of a lifetime that not only challenges his alcoholism, but his strength of conviction and fortitude.
Newman’s lawyer seeks redemption for a career wasted by taking on a medical malpractice suit. His firm wants him to settle, but Newman sees it as a chance to vindicate a wasted life, while bringing justice to those who sorely need it.
The film’s pedigree is beyond astounding with the great Sidney Lumet directing from a script by legendary writer David Mamet. Newman would get an Oscar nomination for the role and the film would be nominated for Best Picture, Best Director and Best Screenplay.
1. The Departed
Martin Scorsese is long known for his skill at crafting a fine gangster-driven crime drama. But, with The Departed, he moved the action from his usual New York to Boston and in the process, took home his first Best Director and Best Picture Oscars.
The all-star cast, led by Matt Damon, Leonardo DiCaprio, Mark Wahlberg and Jack Nicholson, tells the story of a gangster ruling the city with an iron fist, his on-the-inside state trooper (Damon) and the undercover cop (DiCaprio) who will see to it that this crime syndicate’s best days are in the past.
It is a powerful piece of filmmaking and from its soundtrack to its cinematography and even the accents -- The Departed is pure Boston brilliance.
Honorable mentions: Brothers McMullen, The Boondock Saints, The Brink's Job, Gone Baby Gone and Lorenzo's Oil.