10 Best Boston Movies to Binge Before Popular Film Fest

It’s nearly that time of year again for the Boston Film Festival this September. The hustle and bustle will be back for the 38th year in a row, showcasing new films, docuseries, and animated creations. Boston is known for a lot of things—the Red Sox, the Boston Marathon, the Mile Walking Tour, and lots, lots more—but it is equally popular for its film industry. This film event gives aspiring filmmakers and actors a chance to air their creative works and network with industry leaders such as Sam Rockwell, George Clooney, Sir Ridley Scott, and Anne Heche. You never know, maybe it’s their first, big chance to get picked up by our favorite streaming services—Hulu, Netflix, Amazon Prime—or production companies—Paramount, Universal, or Warner Bros. Everyone has to start somewhere. In fact, Boston is exactly where many big-shot movie stars grew up, such as Ben Affleck and Chris Evans (or should we say, Batman and Captain America?!).

The Boston Film Festival logo, consisting of a film reel with the festival's title.

Anyway, to get into the spirit of the Boston Film Festival for all you mega movie fans, or aspiring actors and filmmakers, let’s get binge-watching the top ten movies made in Boston.

1. The Equalizer (2014)

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Oscar-winning actor, Denzel Washington, and prominent director, Antoine Fuqua, are reunited again in The Equalizer after a thirteen-year gap from their last blockbuster, Training Day (2001). If you haven’t watched The Equaliser yet, just know that Denzel and Antoine were as much a dream team in 2014 as they were back then, reigning in nearly $200 million at the box office. Antoine’s directing style and way of delivering this action-packed story are on-point, brilliantly capturing Denzel’s character’s path of destruction around Boston—giving Bostonians a fictional view of their beloved city. The Equalizer is a must-watch before you go to the Boston Film Festival, and you’re in luck—it’s available on Netflix and Amazon.

2. Ted (2012)

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Boston-native, Mark Wahlberg, leads this hilarious comedy, directed by the ingenious Family Guy creator, Seth McFarlane. Filled with the kind of slapstick gags you expect from the eccentric mind of McFarlane, Ted is a lively, laugh-a-minute kind of movie, perfect for a fun movie night-in. Set in the social city of Boston, it’s a must-see that is available on Amazon now.

3. The Town (2010)

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Ben Affleck, a proud Bostonian, writes, directs, and stars in action-thriller heist movie, The Town. With a strong, supporting cast full of big names—Blake Lively, Jeremy Renner, Jon Hamm, and Titus Welliver—Affleck has created an immensely gripping thriller that will keep you on the edge of your seat from the promising beginning to the explosive finale. You won’t want to miss this unashamed gang of robbers who pull off the greatest heist that Boston has ever seen. Be sure to watch on Netflix or Amazon if you’re heading to our favorite artsy film fest.

4. The Departed (2006)

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Legendary director, Martin Scorsese, assembles a crème-de-la-crème cast for this Bostonian-Irish gangster movie—including Boston-made actors, Matt Damon and Mark Wahlberg, and the talented Leonardo DiCaprio, Jack Nicholson, Martin Sheen, Ray Winstone, and Vera Farmiga. Scorsese is famous for his mob movies, usually Italian mafia oriented, but this takes a new spin, giving us a glimpse into the Irish criminal underworld in the capital city of Massachusetts. The Departed is an intense game of cat-and-mouse that will be sure to have viewers roaring at the screen. These gangsters aren’t your typical one-dimensional villains, and the cops aren’t your usual hot-shot detectives, either. It’s a brutal story of fear and distrust, taking us down into the unseen, dark, and gritty Boston. Be sure to watch The Departed on Netflix or Amazon before hitting up September’s film festival.

5. Patriot’s Day (2016)

Rating: 4 out of 5.

The award-winning actor-and-director duo, Peter Berg and Mark Wahlberg reunite for another box-office hit—Patriot’s Day—based on insufferable, true events in the heart of Boston, grossing over $50 million. The harrowing events that unfold tell the story of how two depraved brothers commit a grave act of terrorism, planting a deadly bomb at the finish line of the 2013 Boston Marathon—a worldly popular race with tens of thousands of participants, and even more spectators. Beloved family members and cherished friends were lost that frightful day, and brave civilians suffered life-changing injuries—all sensitively showcased in this powerfully triggering movie. Starring the talented Kevin Bacon, J.K Simmons, and Michelle Monaghan, don’t miss the opportunity to see Patriot’s Day on Netflix or Amazon before heading to the Boston Film Festival this year—it will leave you feeling nothing less than a tender-hearted patriot.  

6. The Fighter (2010)

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Boston’s own Mark Wahlberg stars in The Fighter, an action drama about a rising boxer. Trained by his drug-fallen, ex-boxer brother, and supported by the family matriarch to reach the heights of fame and dosh at any cost, we follow the harsh story of ‘Micky Ward’, based on true events. Starring award-winning Christian Bale, Amy Adams, and Melissa Leo, The Fighter is a much-watch on Netflix or Amazon before visiting Boston this September.

7. Black Mass (2015)

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Johnny Depp devotedly plays the big, bad Bostonian-Irish crime boss, Whitney Bulger, notorious for his violent murders, drug trafficking, and money laundering. True crime drama, Black Mass really packs a punch, sharing how Bulger went from being America’s most-wanted man, behind Osama Bin Laden, to becoming an imprisoned FBI informant, causing carnage for a mafia family who tried annexing his Boston territories. Starring Benedict Cumberbatch, Joel Edgerton, Dakota Johnston, and Kevin Bacon, the cast have flawlessly depicted the mafia past in southern Boston. Be sure to check out this history-rich movie on Netflix or Amazon before the film festival.

8. The Boondock Saints (1999)

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Troy Duffy cleverly writes and directs this cult favorite, starring the talented Norman Reedus and Sean Patrick Flanery. This frenzied story of The Boondock Saints follows two catholic, Irish brothers who set out to clean up the streets of Boston in the name of the church. And just like other vigilante films, you will be firmly supporting the killing-spree heroes, taking down the worst-of-the-worst, Boston crime bosses. Don’t miss this oldie-but-goodie on Amazon before visiting the Boston Film Fest this year.

9. Shutter Island (2010)

Rating: 3 out of 5.

The brilliant Martin Scorsese directs this psychological thriller, starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Emily Mortimer, and Mark Ruffalo. A U.S. Marshall is assigned to an investigation over the mysterious disappearance of a hospital in-patient on Shutter Island, and as it turns out, there’s a twist—he finds himself uncovering a corrupt, underground testing facility for immorally depraved medical practices. Your toes will be curling at the sinister goings-on, and you will be at the edge of your seat from start to finish, too. Scorsese perfects the translation from novel to film, bringing the sinister picture of Shutter Island to life. With a stark and uncomfortable viewing, it is a must-watch for movie buffs going to the Boston film fest. Watch on Hulu now.

10. Paul Blart: Mall Cop (2009)

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Comedy director, Steve Carr, casts Kevin James as the hilarious lead in this action-comedy which grossed nearly $185 million at the box office. The story follows a bumbling security guard who must channel his inner John McClane to rescue terrified hostages from a professional gang of armed robbers in a Boston mall. Armed with nothing but a Segway and a baton, Paul Blart delivers endless laughs for the whole family in this Die-Hard spoof. Be sure to have a movie night in with Paul Blart before heading to Boston this September. Available to watch on Netflix.

So, as you can tell, Boston is a major city for filming and stardom in America—a place to network and showcase your film creations, passions, and talents. Be sure to watch our top ten movies made in Boston and take a trip to the film fest to get exclusives on the freshest filming talents of 2022.

By Rachel Turner