New York is the nation’s movie capital, especially for moviegoers who cherish archival prints, experimental cinema, and concession stands that go far beyond the standard offerings. Below is a guide to the art houses in the city.
financial district28 Liberty Street, Suite SC301, Manhattan. Downtown Brooklyn445 Albee Square West, Brooklyn. drafthouse.com.
This restaurant chain, based in Austin, Texas, has a hip aesthetic and stands out for its beers, queso and screenings of cult classics, in addition to regular screenings of new releases. A revived version of Kim’s Video has moved to Manhattan. A Staten Island theater is set to open this summer.
Angelika Cinema Center
Angelika Cinema Center18 West Houston Street, Manhattan. Cinema 123 by Angelika1001 Third Avenue, Manhattan. East Village by Angelika181-189 Second Avenue, Manhattan. angelikafilmcenter.com.
The original Angelika Film Center is the downtown six-screen theater where you can see art house films, like “Petite Maman” or “Anaïs in Love,” while the metro hums below. The brand name has also been added to the Village East, whose main auditorium is a beautiful former Yiddish stage theatre. In addition to showing new releases, it hosts “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” and periodic revival screenings, and like its uptown sibling, Cinema 123, it’s equipped to show 70-millimeter films.
Anthology Film Archive
32 Second Avenue, Manhattan; anthologyfilmarchives.org.
New York’s star of avant-garde cinema (and its preservation) for more than 50 years, Anthology was started by some of the most important proponents of experimental cinema (Jonas Mekas, P. Adams Sitney) and practitioners (Stan Brakhage, Peter Kubelka). In addition to retrospectives, the theater hosts a rotating series, Essential Cinema, which is free with membership; the lineup includes seminal narrative works by Alexander Dovzhenko and FW Murnau and mid-span non-narrative films by Ken Jacobs and Michael Snow.
Brooklyn Academy of Music
30 Lafayette Avenue, Brooklyn; bam.org.
At any one time, in the main BAM building in Fort Greene, three out of four screens show new releases, while one organizes retrospectives, such as those on films shot in New York in the 1990s or others that place David Lynch’s work alongside films he influenced. Occasional screenings take place at the BAM Harvey Theater a few blocks away.
Filming at Lincoln Center
Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center, 144 West 65th Street, and Walter Reade Theater, 165 West 65th Street, Manhattan; filmlinc.org.
The film branch of Lincoln Center, the host organization of the New York Film Festival, operates a year-round theater with one of the largest screens in the city: the Walter Reade. You can see adventurous revivals, such as programs on the Hungarian director Marta Meszaros or the Japanese actress-director Kinuyo Tanaka, and contemporary series, such as the annual Meeting with French cinema. Across the street is the Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center, home to two screens and a wine and food bar, Indie.
209 West Houston Street, Manhattan; filmforum.org.
A New York institution for more than 50 years – it’s been in its current location since 1990 and added a fourth screen in 2018 – Film Forum hosts some of the city’s most comprehensive retrospectives, often showing dozens of films from a director or stars like Toshiro Mifune and Sidney Poitier. Regular attendance is film education in itself, and the popcorn, to which moviegoers apply sea salt themselves, is a delicacy.
French Institute/Alliance Française
Florence Gould Hall, 55 East 59th Street, Manhattan; fiaf.org.
This chic venue with excellent sightlines hosts screenings on Tuesdays. The program consists of new and old films from France, subtitled in English, Of course. Series usually have a theme – it could be Wes Anderson picking out favorites from Ophüls and Truffaut or a program of recent French comedies.
323 Sixth Avenue, Manhattan; ifccenter.com.
This five-screen Greenwich Village theater has four top-notch auditoriums (and a cubbyhole) and typically shows well over five movies in any given week, usually with a short beforehand. The shows can start as early as 10 or 11 a.m. and, on weekends, until midnight. The concession stand sells T-shirts that substitute the names of the directors for those of the heavy metal bands.
333 East 47th Street, Manhattan; japansociety.org.
This cinema’s annual Japan Cuts series is probably the biggest showcase of recent Japanese cinema on the New York moviegoer’s calendar. For the rest of the year, new films share screen space with classics, often shown on 35mm.
361 Stagg Street, Brooklyn; lightindustry.org.
This microcinema, which specializes in experimental films and usually holds Tuesday night screenings, held its latest program at its longtime Greenpoint location in April. It will reopen in June on Stagg Street. Past projections have varied greatly; they included early works by William Castle, a four-hour 1919 Mexican series, films by Hollis Frampton and Owen Land on 16 millimeters, and a marathon “Police Squad!” episodes.
343 Lenox Avenue, Manhattan; maysles.org.
This small (about 60 seats) venue in Harlem specializes in documentaries – it was founded by director Albert Maysles, of “Grey Gardens” fame. Programming often emphasizes social issues and local art.
7 Ludlow Street, Manhattan; metrograph.com.
An ever-changing (and expensive!) selection of international candy, a corner bookstore, and an upscale restaurant, The Commissary, are among the features of this two-screen Lower East Side venue, which opened in 2016. (Many don’t notice, but it sits across from the neglected Loew’s Canal Theater.) The retrospectives, like a recurring series of programmers’ favorites, organized alphabetically, have a corresponding artisanal feel.
modern Art Museum
11 West 53rd Street, Manhattan; moma.org.
MoMA has exhibited films since the 1930s, when Iris Barry, the museum’s first film curator, helped advance the idea that films should be collected as art. Today, the institution’s two main theaters screen films from its own collection and archives from around the world (annual series To record and project highlights recent preservation work). Admission to most screenings is free with membership.
Moving Image Museum
36-01 35th Avenue, Queens; movingimage.us.
High ceilings and blue upholstery on the walls lend a slightly futuristic feel to the 267-seat Redstone Theater, the main auditorium of this Astoria museum. It works well when a favorite like “2001: A Space Odyssey” plays on 70 millimeters. More specialized fare is sometimes presented in the Bartos Screening Room down the hall.
Prospect Park188 Prospect Park West, Brooklyn. Williamsburg136 Metropolitan Avenue, Brooklyn. nitehawkcinema.com.
These stylish dining rooms feature multiple screens that showcase new releases and perennial favorites (“Carrie,” “Face/Off”) from brunch time to midnight tea time. Both venues have bars.
4 West 58th Street, Manhattan; paristheatrenyc.com.
Once a go-to destination for French cinema and literary films, Paris briefly closed in 2019, but was later rented out by Netflix, which uses it for theatrical release of its streaming titles (like “The Power of the Dog” by Jane Campion”) and older films intended to complement them. It is one of the few theaters in New York with a balcony.
34 West 13th Street, Manhattan; quadcinema.com.
When this Greenwich Village theater opened in 1972, having four screens was unusual. (“A new way to go to the movies,” a New York Times ad boasted on its first day.) It reopened in 2017 after a renovation that gave it bigger, more comfortable seats for catching new movie releases. arthouse, like “A Hero” or “We’re all going to the Universal Exhibition”. In addition, there is an adjoining bar.
Roxy Cinema New York
2 Sixth Avenue, Manhattan; roxycinematribeca.com.
Located in the basement of the Roxy Hotel, this plush red screening room offers a mix of reruns (often on 35mm film) and second-run programs – recent releases that have been in theaters for some time.
124 South Third Street, Brooklyn; spectacletheatre.com.
A grungy Williamsburg microcinema launched in 2010, Spectacle has a schedule that’s as eclectic as it is inscrutable. There are horror and martial arts fare that leans towards the obscure, as well as plenty of international titles that never appear in other New York venues.
4140 Broadway, Manhattan; unitedpalace.org.
One of Loew’s original Wonder Theaters – movie palaces built in the late 1920s, with one in every borough except Staten Island (Jersey City got it instead) – this architectural marvel in Washington Heights is an attraction in itself. It is now run by an organization that promotes interfaith arts events, but the theater also hosts concerts and, usually once a month, film screenings. Local resident Lin-Manuel Miranda paid for a new screen and projector.