The best arthouse cinemas in New York
Cinema buff? Read on for a handful of our favourite movie theatres in Manhattan (and one in Brooklyn) dedicated to the best of arthouse film, cult classics and new releases fresh from the world’s best film festivals…
Landmark’s Sunshine Cinema
A film buff’s fantasy, the Lower East Side’s Sunshine Cinema started out in life as a Yiddish vaudeville theatre when it opened as the Houston Hippodrome in 1909. After World War II it closed its doors to the public and became a warehouse, but was rescued and renovated in 1996 and now houses five beautifully-restored auditoriums and draws arthouse, cult and classic cinema lovers from all over the city and beyond. Expect nice touches like a range of seasonings for your popcorn, an espresso bar, plenty of lobby seating and midnight showings of classic movies on Saturday nights.
143 East Houston Street on the Lower East Side. Take the F Train to the 2nd Avenue Stop. The theatre is located between 1st and 2nd Avenues.
Angelika Film Center
Another cinephiles’ favourite, the Angelika Film Center in Soho is known for its thoughtful programming of feature documentaries, independent and foreign-language films, with a reputation for bringing the most hotly-tipped crop of movies from top international film festivals to its screens. The spacious lobby cafe serves well as a place for discussion (or heated debate) before or after a movie, or just to sit and reflect over a gourmet coffee and slice of New York cheesecake. It’s open to the public regardless of whether you’re watching a film. And that occasional rumble you might hear? It’s the subway beneath you.
18 West Houston St (at Mercer St). Take the B, D, F or V train to Broadway/Lafayette St. Exit at the west end of the station.
Located in the heart of midtown Manhattan just off Fifth Avenue and next door to the Bergdorf Goodman department store, the plush Paris Theatre opened in 1948 with Marlene Dietrich cutting the inaugural ribbon. The cavernous single-screen auditorium is known for its well-spaced, comfortable seating and great sightlines, in both the main and balcony levels, and is often used as a venue for premieres of international and independent movies, along with the odd Hollywood flick. The Lovely Bones, Remember Me, Iris and Moulin Rouge all received the red-carpet treatment here.
4 West 58th Street at 5th Avenue. Take the N, Q or R train to 5th Ave/59th Street.
With aspirations to be an alternative screening space for independent movies, the Film Forum was opened by two film fanatics in 1970, with nothing more than a single projector and a collection of folding chairs. Fast forward forty-odd years and today the Film Forum is a non-profit, three-screen cinema in Soho, showing a meticulously curated range of foreign and American indies alongside director retrospectives, festivals and the work of emerging filmmakers.
209 West Houston Street between 6th and 7th Aves. Nearest subways: West 4th/6th Ave, Spring St and Houston St.
BAM Rose Cinemas
Across the bridge in elegant Fort Greene, Brooklyn, the BAM Rose Cinemas are part of the renowned Brooklyn Academy of Music, a centre for the arts in operation for more than 150 years. Opened in 1998, the four-screen Rose Cinemas were created from the 1,000-seater Corey Playhouse, and specialise in first-run arthouse films, often with guest speakers, as well as repertory and offbeat cinema, revivals of old classics and family favourites. Don’t forget to look up and admire the old playhouse’s impeccably restored moulded ceilings and proscenium arch.
30 Lafayette Ave, Brooklyn, NY. A wide range of public transport will take you there.