Seven Films That Really Capture Boston

Emily Bateman ’15 / Emertainment Monthly Staff
Bostonians are proud people, and that is reflected in their movies. From Fenway to Harvard, Boston has a lot to offer. As we are all welcomed back to Emerson for another school year, now is the time to remember some of the best movies that take place in Boston. Here is a list of the top films that tell us what Beantown is all about.

Good Will Hunting (1997)

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Photo Courtesy of
Rating: R
Starring: Matt Damon, Robin Williams, Ben Affleck
Written by two true Bostonians, Ben Affleck and Matt DamonGood Will Hunting follows Will Hunting (Damon, a janitor at MIT. Will is a genius and yet he has no direction in life, completely content with sweeping floors all day and getting into bar fights with his buddies at night. When he has one too many run-ins with the law, he is forced to rely on a washed up therapist, played by Robin Williams, for guidance and direction. Nominated for nine Academy Awards, Good Will Hunting is a tough and tender story that is clearly proud to be set in Boston.
Fun Fact: Ben Affleck and Matt Damon knew they wanted to write a movie together, and after they were frustrated with the corruption in Hollywood, they chose to write about what they knew: growing up in Boston.
Available to steam on Netflix.

The Departed (2006)

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Photo Courtesy of
Rating: R
Starring: Matt Damon, Leonardo DiCaprio, Jack Nicholson
Martin Scorsese‘s Oscar-winning crime drama also stars Matt Damon. This time Damon plays Colin Sullivan, a mole within the Massachusetts State Police. While everyone thinks he is working for the police, he is really working for Irish mob boss Frank Costello (Nicholson). What some claim to be Scorsese’s best work, it’s Best Picture Oscar (among it’s four other wins) seems to agree.
Fun Fact: Martin Scorsese viewed the film’s dailies at Emerson College.

The Social Network (2010)

Jesse Eisenberg in Columbia Pictures' The Social Network. Photo Courtesy of
Jesse Eisenberg in Columbia Pictures’ The Social Network. Photo Courtesy of
Rating: PG-13
Starring: Jesse Eisenberg, Rooney Mara, Andrew Garfield
The Social Network tells the story of one of Harvard’s most famous alumni, Mark Zuckerberg’s rise to fame when he created the infamous social media website, Facebook. With David Fincher, director of Fight Club and Se7en, at the helm, this film encompasses a cut-throat and intense academic, social, and professional life at the world’s top Ivy League.
Fun Fact: Harvard graduate and Oscar-winning actress Natalie Portman helped screenwriter Aaron Sorkin by giving him first-hand knowledge of the social scene at Harvard during the time of Facebook’s creation.

Mystic River (2003)

Sean Penn in Mystic River. Photo Courtesy of
Sean Penn in Mystic River. Photo Courtesy of
Rating: R
Starring: Sean Penn, Tim Robbins, Kevin Bacon
Another crime drama to make it on the list, Mystic River is probably Clint Eastwood‘s most overlooked film as a director. In the film, childhood best friends Jimmy (Penn), Dave (Robbins), and Sean (Bacon), are forced to reunite when Jimmy’s daughter is murdered. Jimmy and Dave still live in Boston where they grew up while Sean is a detective for the Massachusetts State Police and is assigned to solve the murder. Sean Penn gives one of the best performances of his career in this resilient, yet sensitive film.
Fun Fact: The film was almost shot in Toronto, Canada because it was cheaper, but director Clint Eastwood pushed to have the shoot in Boston, where the film and novel take place.

The Boondock Saints (1999)

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Photo Courtesy of
Rating: R
Starring: Willem Dafoe, Sean Patrick Flanery, Norman Reedus
After attending mass at a Catholic church, brothers Connor (Flanery) and Murphy McManus (Reedus) pledge to rid Boston of crime, all the while being tracked by the FBI. While this film did poorly at the box office upon its initial release, it has since gained a cult following from not only Bostonians, but fans around the world.
Fun Fact: The director, Troy Duffy, made a Boondock Saints II, a documentary about The Boondock Saints, and even named his band after the film.

The Fighter (2010)

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Photo Courtesy of
Rating: R
Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Christian Bale, Amy Adams
While The Fighter actually takes place in Lowell, Massachusetts, it is the brainchild of Mark Wahlberg, the proudest of Bostonians and therefore holds a place on this list. Micky Ward (Wahlberg), is a working-class boxer being trained by his washed up half brother Dicky (Christian Bale). The film was nominated for seven Academy Awards, including Best Picture.
Fun Fact: Mark Wahlberg began training for the film in 2005 for his role as Micky and continued until 2009 when filming finally began.

Ted (2012)

Mark Wahlberg in Ted. Photo Courtesy of
Mark Wahlberg in Ted. Photo Courtesy of
Rating: R
Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Mila Kunis, Seth MacFarlane
Mark Wahlberg stars in another Boston film on this list, TedCreated by Family Guy‘s Seth McFarlane, Ted is a teddy bear that John Bennett (Wahlberg), wished to have a child. As he grew up, so did his best friend, Ted. Now as adults, they live, drink, and share crude jokes together–much to the misfortune of John’s girlfriend, Lori (Mila Kunis), who wants Ted gone. From Ted’s strong Boston accent to a trip to Fenway, everything about this movie screams Boston. And that’s just how we’d want it.
Fun Fact: Shawn Thornton of the Boston Bruins makes a cameo in the film when he runs on stage after Norah Jones.

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