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Spotlight | © BagoGames / Flickr
Spotlight | © BagoGames / Flickr
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10 Films to Watch Before Visiting Boston

Picture of Ashley Kane
Freelance Writer
Updated: 8 February 2017
Chances are that even if you’ve never been to Boston, you’ve seen a movie set here. Many of them feature gangsters, exaggerated Boston accents, and crime—but don’t let that give you the wrong idea. Boston is one of the safest large cities in the country. Here are 10 films to should watch before visiting the city.

The Departed (2006)

This classic 2006 film is set in South Boston and centers around a police force trying to stop organized crime. A young cop (Leonardo DiCaprio) has to infiltrate a mob run by gang chief Costello (Jack Nicholson). There are many twists and turns as the movie goes on. Though many scenes were shot in New York, Colin Sullivan’s (Matt Damon) penthouse, was filmed at the top floor of Suffolk University Law School’s library.

Good Will Hunting (1997)

This 1997 movie brought Matt Damon and Ben Affleck to fame and also features the late, incredible Robin Williams. Good Will Hunting centers around Damon’s character, a troubled young mathematical genius who works as a janitor at MIT, as he gains direction and insight from a psychologist (Williams). A legendary scene between the two takes place on a Boston Public Garden bench.

Boston Public Garden | © Lucy Orloski / Flickr
Boston Public Garden | © Lucy Orloski / Flickr

The Town (2010)

An iconic Boston film, The Town centers around Doug MacRay (Ben Affleck), who leads a group of bank robbers from Charlestown. They live with no attachment until MacRay falls in love with a woman (Rebecca Hall) taken hostage during a holdup by fellow robber James Coughlin (Jeremy Renner). The film ends with an unforgettable heist at Fenway Park, America’s oldest MLB ballpark.

The Town | © Wikimedia Commons
The Town | © Wikimedia Commons

Mystic River (2003)

Mystic River, an acclaimed mystery-drama based on Dennis Lehane’s novel of the same name, stars Sean Penn, Tim Robbins, and Kevin Bacon as three men who grew up together. After a shared childhood tragedy, the three drift apart but reunite after one of them suffers a horrible family tragedy. The movie is partially filmed in East Boston, most notably along the Tobin Bridge, and at a grocery store on K Street in South Boston.

Spotlight (2015)

Winner of the Academy Award for Best Picture, Spotlight is based on the Boston Globe‘s uncovering of the massive child molestation scandal by numerous Roman Catholic priests in the Boston area in the early 2000s. The series of investigative stories by the Spotlight team (played by Mark Ruffalo, Rachel McAdams, Michael Keaton) won them the 2003 Pulitzer Prize for Public Service. Though most of the filming takes place in Ontario, Canada, some scenes are filmed at the Boston Globe and at Figueroa’s Market on Parker Street in Roxbury.

Spotlight | © BagoGames / Flickr
Spotlight | © BagoGames / Flickr

Ted (2012)

While many of Boston’s movies are crime-filled, dramatic, or based on horrible real-life events, Ted takes a raunchy departure. This comedy follows John Bennett (Mark Wahlberg), whose childhood wish of his teddy bear (voiced by Seth MacFarlane) coming to life comes true. He must now decide between his relationship with Ted and his relationship with his girlfriend, Lori (Mila Kunis). The movie is filmed around Boston, with Lori’s and John’s apartment on Chandler Street, and a restaurant scene is filmed at Sorellina.

Chandler Street | © Lucy Orloski / Flickr
Chandler Street | © Lucy Orloski / Flickr

Fever Pitch (2005)

In this romantic comedy, Lindsay (Drew Barrymore) finds herself stuck in the middle of her relationship with Ben (Jimmy Fallon) and his relationship and passion for the Red Sox. Fever Pitch shot some scenes at Fenway Park and around Boston, including a scene at East Boston High School.

The Boondock Saints (1999)

This 1999 crime-thriller stars Sean Patrick Flanery and Norman Reedus as fraternal twins trying to rid Boston of evil as an FBI agent (Willem Dafoe) tracks them. While much of the film is shot in Canada, the epic final scenes are all filmed around Boston, including at the famous Copley Square.

The Fighter (2010)

This drama centers on the true story of boxer “Irish” Micky Ward (Mark Wahlberg) as he trains with his brother (Christian Bale) to go pro in the 1980s. The Fighter is set and filmed in Lowell, Massachusetts along the Merrimack River, where Ward grew up in real life.

Shutter Island (2010)

Shutter Island, a mystery-thriller based on Dennis Lehane’s bestselling novel, is set in 1954 around a U.S. marshal (Leonardo DiCaprio) investigating the disappearance of a murderess who escaped from a hospital for the criminally insane. The movie was filmed in Medfield and Tauton as well as at the East Point lighthouse in Nahant, Massachusetts. Shutter Island is set at one of the Boston Harbor islands.

Shutter Island | © Chirinecarlao / Flickr
Shutter Island | © Chirinecarlao / Flickr