Boston Movies

Saturday, April 16 by Tom Gordon

Boston movies tend to feature tough generations of cops, Harvard University, tough tales of loyalty and conflict, and lots of lines like, "Get in the cah." While many New York movies feature the glamor of the Big Apple, Boston movies tend to focus on the grit and trouble found in many old neighborhoods, particularly South Boston. Here are some excellent Boston-based movies. Just stand by for some authentic accents and some mangled Boston-ese.

  1. "The Departed."  This 2006 Martin Scorsese thriller finally earned the great director an Oscar. The movie follows the tense experiences of a young undercover cop (Leonardo DiCaprio) infiltrating the Irish mafia in South Boston and a young mafia informant (Matt Damon) rising up in the ranks of the Massachusetts State Police's Special Investigation Unit. Jack Nicholson stars as the underworld kingpin and Mark Wahlberg, who earned an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor, plays a police sergeant and one of the few members of the force who can identify the undercover cop now entrenched with the mafia. Sudden and brutal violence runs throughout the film, but it's easily one of the best Boston movies ever made.
  2. "Mystic River."  This grim tale, directed by Clint Eastwood, is based on the novel by Dennis Lehane. The story involves three childhood friends, all emotionally scarred by the time they reach adulthood, whose lives cross again when the daughter of one of the men (Sean Penn) disappears. While this well-received 2003 film is rough going, the performances of Penn, Kevin Bacon and Tim Robbins are stellar. Also outstanding are Laurence Fishburne as a police detective, and Marcia Gay Harden, Laura Linney, and Tori Davis as the wives of the three lead characters.
  3. "Good Will Hunting." Boston pals Matt Damon and Ben Affleck wrote and starred in this 1997 comedy-drama about a genius young janitor named Will Hunting (Damon) at Harvard and his struggle to overcome psychologically the abuse he suffered as a kid. Robin Williams, who won an Oscar, plays a shrink with problems of his own as he works to get through to Hunting. Affleck plays one of Hunting's childhood pals who grows conflicted as his friend starts to get attention for his amazing mind. Minnie Driver is also great as the girl also trying to sort through Hunting's tough exterior.
  4. "The Verdict." In one of the best performances in his amazing career Paul Newman plays Frank Galvin, a seemingly washed-up Boston lawyer with a drinking problem and a lot of regrets. When an associate offers him what looks like an easy malpractice case, in which the victim's family and the hospital are willing to settle out of court, Galvin at first looks only at the payday. But he starts to examine the case and his own life and decides this is a case where the victim's family deserves more than a little payoff by the hospital and the doctors involved need to be held accountable. It's as good a courtroom drama as any ever filmed. Director Sidney Lumet delivered this 1982 classic with a screenplay by David Mamet.
  5. "Fever Pitch." This romantic comedy, based on a British novel about a guy's obsession with his favorite soccer team, featured Jimmy Fallon as a die-hard Boston Red Sox fan and Drew Barrymore as the girl he falls for… in the offseason. When baseball season rolls around, Drew finds herself wondering where she fits into his life. The movie enjoyed one of the most amazing coincidences in Hollywood history as it was being filmed in Boston when the Red Sox went on their unbelievable run through the playoffs to a World Series title in 2004. Fans watching at home probably wondered why Fallon and Barrymore were running around on the field at Fenway Park with the players. But filmmakers took advantage of the real-life change in fortunes for the long-suffering Red Sox fans and included the championship in the movie, changing the planned ending, but making for a lighthearted and enjoyable movie nonetheless.
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