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Watch the 10 Best Movies Ever Made in Boston

By Shruti Rajkumar | November 24, 2020 | Culture


With long winter movie-watching nights and weekends upon us, it’s time to beef up your queue for some of Hollywood’s best—including films either shot in Boston or based on our great city. Here are some of our favorites.


Based on a true story, Spotlight—starring Mark Ruffalo, Michael Keaton and Rachel McAdams—follows the Boston Globe investigation of the 2001 sexual abuse scandal of the Roman Catholic Church. A notable scene with McAdam’s character, Sacha Pfeiffer, takes place at the South End Buttery.


Comedy-drama Joy hit the big screen in 2015, capturing a powerful story of a woman who creates her own business empire and becomes a self-made billionaire. Starring award-winning actor and actress Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence, this movie was filmed in areas all around Boston, Wilmington and North Reading.

Shutter Island

Bold, atmospheric and suspenseful are just a few words to describe this 2010 thriller mystery. Starring Leonardo Dicaprio and Mark Ruffalo, Shutter Island is an adaption of the novel by Denise Lehane and depicts a U.S. Marshal and his partner investigating an escape from an asylum, which results in shocking revelations and truths about the island. Most of the film was shot in Massachusetts, with key locations such as the old Medfield State Hospital and Peddocks Island in the Boston Harbor.

The Social Network

This gripping, drama adaptation of the book The Accidental Billionaires, starring Jesse Eisenberg and Andrew Garfield, tells the story of Mark Zuckerberg’s creation of Facebook in 2001—as well as the personal and legal complications that impeded this process. Peep some scenes filmed in Cambridge, as well as on campuses of prep schools Milton Academy and Phillips Academy.

American Hustle

Once again, Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper make an appearance together in this 2013 crime drama, along with Amy Adams, Christian Bale and Jeremy Renner. Based on the 1970s Abscam case and shot around Boston and Worcester, the award-winning film follows the story of a con man and his partner as they are forced to work for the FBI.

The Proposal

Actress Sandra Bullock and actor Ryan Reynolds make a hilarious duo in The Proposal. A quick synopsis: When faced with deportation, a book editor named Margaret says she’s engaged to her assistant Andrew, who agrees to play along under the condition that she come to Alaska to meet his parents. But with an immigration official nearby, the two have to go through with wedding plans to avoid suspicion. Filmed in Rockport and Manchester-by-the-Sea, locals will also recognize scenes at the State Street Bank Building in Boston.

The Departed

This 2006 Martin Scorsese crime thriller film featured three big names in Hollywood: Leonardo DiCaprio, Matt Damon and Jack Nicholson. With some scenes filmed in Boston, the thriller follows a South Boston cop as he goes undercover to infiltrate a gangland chief’s organization, and a career criminal who infiltrates the police department. When both organizations discover there’s a mole among them, the cop and career criminal work together to figure out each others’ identities to save themselves.

Good Will Hunting

Having won a multitude of awards, including the Academy Award for Writing (original screenplay), this 1997 film follows the story of unrecognized genius Will Hunting who works as a janitor at MIT. After assaulting a police officer, Hunting sees a therapist as part of a deferred prosecution agreement and studies advanced mathematics with a renowned professor. As you watch the film, see if you can spot the Boston locations where award-winning actors Matt Damon and Robin Williams filmed some scenes, such as the Boston Public Garden, Harvard University and Bunker Hill Community College.

Hocus Pocus

Since hitting theaters in 1993, this go-to Halloween classic starring Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker, Kathy Najimy and Omri Katz has been a crowd favorite. Journey through Salem with Max Dennison as he awakens the witches. Aside from the multiple scenes filmed in Salem (look out for Pioneer Village, Old Town Hall, Ocean Avenue and Phipps Elementary School), the movie also features the Old Burial Hill in Marblehead.


There’s no doubt that everyone knows about and remembers Steven Spielberg’s classic thriller Jaws. But did know that this blockbuster movie was filmed not too far away? Aquatic scenes were filmed at Martha’s Vineyard because the surrounding ocean was ideal for operating the mechanical shark.

Tags: movies movie

Photography by: Jon Tyson on Unsplash