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By Anjuli Johnson

New York has been a Hollywood filming mecca for decades and its appeal is only growing. To celebrate the Oscars, this Sunday night on ABC, On Location Tours has rounded up a list of classic Best Picture winners that were filmed in NYC.

The first Oscar-winning movie ever filmed in New York City was The Lost Weekend, winning Best Picture in 1945 at the 18th Academy Awards. The film follows the life of an alcoholic on a four-day drinking stint. It was not entirely filmed in New York, but some scenes were, making it the first Best Picture winner to feature many NYC locations.

In 1960, The Apartment won Best Picture at the Oscars. This movie’s exterior shots were filmed in the city. C.C. Baxter is an office drone at an insurance company. To advance his career, he lets the company’s executives use his apartment for trysts, but problems arise when his boss takes a girl Baxter likes to the apartment. 55 West 69th Street on the Upper West Side was used as the apartment. Since the movie was filmed during an extra-cold winter, they also recreated the building on a sound stage for some scenes.

West Side Story, the rival-gangs-in-NYC adaptation of the classic “Romeo & Juliet” tale, won the following year in 1961. Most scenes were filmed at a studio in California, but some of the outdoor scenes were filmed in New York. The famous playground is located on 110th Street in East Harlem, between 2nd Avenue and 3rd Avenue.

In Midnight Cowboy, an Academy Award-winning “hustler” befriends a sickly con man and they help each other survive on the rough streets of New York City. The film won Best Picture in 1969 and the scenes taking place in NYC were filmed in the city. Some other scenes were shot in a studio in Harlem.

The French Connection, the 1971 winner, tells the story of two NYC cops who discover a huge drug smuggling ring connected to a drug lord in France, culminating in a violent showdown between police and mobsters. The majority of the film was shot on location in New York – around Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Queens – with the exception of the scenes that took place in France.

The Godfather, a classic film that won Best Picture in 1972, follows the aging patriarch of a New York mafia family who tries to convince his son to take over the empire. When a rival family starts trouble, the son begins a violent mob war that tears their family apart.  The majority of scenes were filmed on location in New York – most were shot in Manhattan, but there were also several in the Bronx, Queens, and Staten Island. Other scenes were shot in a studio in Harlem.

Annie Hall won in 1977, becoming Woody Allen’s first and only film so far to take top honors at the Academy Awards. The film was shot almost entirely on location in New York, with exteriors filmed in Manhattan and Brooklyn and interiors filmed at a studio in Harlem. After their break-up, Alvy Singer, a neurotic New York comedian, reminisces about his relationship with Annie Hall, trying to figure out what went wrong in their relationship.

Kramer vs. Kramer, the winner in 1979, was the last Best Picture-winning movie to have been filmed almost entirely on location in New York (the following three films had only brief scenes taking place in NYC). The film tells the story of a couple’s divorce and how it affects everyone involved, including their five-year-old son.


Fifteen movies filmed at least partially in New York City have won Best Picture at the Academy Awards over the years. Here’s the full list:

1945 – The Lost Weekend
1947 – Gentleman’s Agreement
1950 – All About Eve
1955 – Marty
1960 – The Apartment
1961 – West Side Story
1969 – Midnight Cowboy
1971 – The French Connection
1972 – The Godfather
1974 – The Godfather Part II
1977 – Annie Hall
1979 – Kramer vs. Kramer
1983 – Terms of Endearment
2001 – A Beautiful Mind
2006 – The Departed

If Birdman wins Best Picture on Sunday, it will be added to the list of NYC Oscar-winning films! What movie do you think deserves to take home Best Picture this weekend?

About the writer: Anjuli has been a TV/movie fangirl for as long as she can remember and a loyal OLTer since she was 16. She loves most television shows, but some of her favorites are Friends, How I Met Your Mother, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, The Blacklist, and Person of Interest. She enjoys tracking down productions on the streets of NYC and probably spends too much time thinking about the lives of fictional characters.