The Best Movies Filmed in Upstate New York, Ranked


When it comes to the mechanics of filmmaking, there are many moving parts. The writers, actors, and directors all play a vital role in getting the movie made. A big job that you might not think about is that of the person who scouts out the perfect location to film the movie. If it’s a big action movie, perhaps most of the filming would be done on a set in Hollywood somewhere. However, if it’s not an artificial set with a green screen background, you can rest assured that they’re filmed in a real town, city, or state. Some of the best movies that you know and love are shot on location, such as in beautiful Wilmington, North Carolina.

Some of the best and biggest blockbusters take place in one of the greatest cities in the world: New York City. If you go 3–4 hours north of the city, you’ll reach the capital region and upstate New York. Many great movies have been filmed near the Hudson Valley, Albany, Saratoga, Buffalo, and even the small city of Schenectady. It’s almost surreal when you see local places in your city or town in blockbuster movies. You feel this sense of pride as a diner or a bank is showcased in a movie that is filled with huge stars and memorable scenes. That being said, while New York City often gets all the spotlight, let’s take a look at the best movies filmed in Upstate New York, ranked.

Related: Best Films Set in New York, Ranked



8 Nobody’s Fool (1994)

nobodys fool
Paramount Pictures

If you’re a fan of the movie Nobody’s Fool, you should start making a trip to a tiny town just outside the Hudson Area, known as the town of Beacon. The town’s population is around 14,000, and if you drive through it, you’ll easily be able to scout out different locations that were featured heavily throughout the film. Such as the diner that was featured, which now has the name The Grazin Diner, sits on Warren Street in this small town. It’s amazing to think about how this small town in an even smaller area was featured in a huge movie that had big stars such as Paul Newman, Melanie Griffith, and Bruce Willis! In return for spending weeks filming in this area, production paid the town $40,000 for any inconveniences residents might have experienced during the shooting.

7 Scent of a Woman (1993)

Scent of a Woman
Universal Pictures

Scent of a Woman was nominated for three Academy Awards, gained over $100 million in box office sales, and filmed some of its major scenes in Troy, New York. Troy is another city neighboring Albany and housed the production of Scent of a Woman for quite a bit of time. While filming also took place in Manhattan, not only at the Waldorf Astoria but also at The Plaza, they took the location to Troy at the Emma Willard School, which is still standing to this day. The school stays true to the film as it’s a private college prep day boarding school for grades 9–12.

6 Ironweed (1986)

TAFT Entertainment Pictures

In 1987, the city of Albany was bombarded with a huge movie premiere located in The Palace Theater, which now hosts some of the biggest pop star names for various concerts. Ironweed, which stars Meryl Streep and Jack Nicholson, was filmed in both Albany and Troy and essentially took over both areas while filming was in production. The movie which was based on the book written by Albany native William Kennedy hired over 1,100 local residents to be not only extras but also production staff. While the movie is not so memorable, the influence this production had still holds credibility, as the premier night of this film raised over $170,000 for local homeless shelters, and it’s said that the after-party was hosted at the local Hilton.

5 Salt (2009)

Evelyn Salt (Angelina jolie) surrenders
Sony Pictures Releasing

In 2009, the filming of Salt took place and was one of the biggest crime movies of that year. Angelina Jolie was at the top of her game and brought a lot of hype to filming when the location moved to Albany, the capital of New York. One of the biggest action scenes in this movie is when Salt is running from the FBI and makes an escape on top of a movie truck, and the background is the city of Albany, more specifically the 787 highway. If you’re a resident of the Albany area, it will be easy to spot familiar capital buildings in the background as Jolie balances on top of a fast-speeding truck. Even though the movie is supposed to be set in Washington, D.C., in this particular scene, you can tell Albany was clearly featured.

4 The Irishman (2019)

Robert De Niro as Frank Sheeran

The Hudson Valley is no stranger to hosting huge stars while even bigger movies are made, and Martin Scorsese’s The Irishman made use of the iconic Upstate area. The film is very long, over three hours, so if you feel that you need a break in the middle of it, maybe you can take a trip to Weir’s Ice Cream shop located in Salisbury, New York, where one of the iconic scenes from this movie was filmed. Not only that, The Irishman also has scenes filmed in the Orange Top Diner in Tuxedo, New York, as well as in the Callahan-Nannini Shale located in Salisbury. If you’re from the area, these locations might just seem normal as you drive past them on a day-to-day basis, but seeing them in a huge Netflix movie must have been surreal.

Related: Best Martin Scorsese Films, Ranked

3 A Quiet Place 1 and 2 (2018-2021)

A Quiet Place
Paramount Pictures

John Krasinksi, who wrote A Quiet Place 1 and 2, seemed to take a liking to the Upstate area and insisted on filming both movies in the Hudson Valley area. If you’re from Upstate, you’re well aware of how large the Hudson area is, so it makes sense that the thriller-suspense films were made here, on such a high caliber. The towns featured were Herkimer, Dutchess, and Ulster, and you can actually visit some of the places where filming took place, such as the house where the family was living. Outside the Hudson area, filming also took place in New Paltz, where the iconic bridge scene took place, and you can visit it at the Wallkill Valley Rail Trail.

2 The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (2014)

The Amazing Spider-Man 2
Columbia Pictures

It might be hard to picture this film on the list since Spider-Man’s hometown is Queens, no matter the adaptation. However, many scenes of this film took place in Rochester and Buffalo, which, although large cities, are far more rural than the Big Apple. The producers of The Amazing Spider-Man 2 made it their goal to include people who actually lived in these two cities, and hired more than 400 residents to portray extras in the hustle and bustle. While that was a great idea to make it more authentic to both the movie and the audience who would eventually watch their cities be portrayed in this huge Marvel film, this movie would become the most expensive film made in Upstate New York, specifically due to the hiring of 400 residents.

1 The Place Beyond the Pines (2012)

Sydney Kimmel Entertainment

The Place Beyond the Pines is a masterful example of three different stories shown throughout one movie. Filming took place in the city of Schenectady, with one of the writers being from Niskayuna, New York, and it’s just 20 minutes outside of Albany. Residents of Schenectady previously stated that the big stars of the movie, such as Ryan Gosling, Bradley Cooper, and Eva Mendes, practically lived in the city the entire time while filming. The movie is about three different points of view and the repercussions when the relationship between fathers and sons is soiled. Another landmark in the Capital Region is the Altamont Fair, and the opening scene of The Place Beyond the Pines takes place at the iconic fairgrounds.

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