Fordham Cinephiles Can Finally Know Peace

Have no fear, film fans: Here’s the definitive ranking of every movie theater in New York City (more or less)

By ANA KEVORKIAN

Like many incoming students, I came to Fordham wide-eyed, ready to live life to its fullest, to seize the day, et cetera. So, naturally, I began a quest to find the best movie theater in the Big Apple — a journey for which I was deeply qualified, having spent six weeks tearing tickets at my hometown’s AMC — because nothing says “living life to the fullest” like sitting silently in a dark room with a group of senior citizens. 

Throughout my time at Fordham, I’ve traversed the city in search of the perfect theater. I’ve spent countless hours on downtown trains, camouflaging myself into crowds of New York University students in A24 merch as I successfully prove my taste more esoteric, niche and simply better than everyone else’s.

To be clear: You don’t need to travel very far to see a good movie. We have two world-famous theaters within a five-minute wand Benny Safdie, “Daddy Longlegs,” which was accompanied by a question-and-answer alk of campus — Film at Lincoln Center and AMC Lincoln Square 13 — both of which show a wide array of contemporary and repertoire programming. But, if you’re like me, you might be looking for something different — so, I present to you, dear reader and fellow cinephile, the definitive ranking of New York City movie theaters. 

Coming in last, my personal hell: the AMC Empire 25. Inexplicably, this theater is located inside of both a Dave and Buster’s and an Applebee’s, somehow simultaneously.

Before we begin, I have a quick disclaimer: One theater is missing from my list. In my pursuit of serious journalism, I attempted to make the trip to the Metrograph, the cinephilic paradise which has as of yet eluded my grasp, largely due to its hefty $17 ticket price. However, despite my best efforts, the screening was sold out. I’m sure the Metrograph is a lovely place, but I cannot in good conscience rank a theater which I have yet to visit. You’ll have to try that one for yourself.

With that being said, here is my (correct) ranking of the New York City movie theater landscape:

  1. AMC Empire 25

Coming in last, my personal hell: the AMC Empire 25. Inexplicably, this theater is located inside of both a Dave and Buster’s and an Applebee’s, somehow simultaneously. If you’re looking to start an argument in your theology class over the existence of God, simply show them a photo of this Satanic space. 

Should you decide to ignore my warnings and patronize this theater, prepare to wade through throngs of tourists as they pour into Madame Tussauds or Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville while you flee the 42nd Street-Times Square subway station. And remember: Do not make eye contact with a man in an Elmo suit. 

It’s hard to compare the Alamo Drafthouse to any other theater — where else can you sip on a margarita or merlot (or, for the underage community, water, I guess) while watching the latest release.

To be fair, there’s nothing particularly wrong with the theater itself. Sometimes good things can be found in bad places (for example, I’m from Ohio). But ultimately, unless you truly cannot find a movie anywhere else — like when my favorite film of all time, “Titanic,” got rereleased and had to compete with James Cameron’s box-office juggernaut “Avatar: The Way of Water” for premium format screens — the harrowing trip to Times Square just isn’t worth it.

  1. Angelika Film Center

I anticipate this being controversial, as the Angelika is legendary. As I prepared to move to New York for college, I couldn’t wait to go to this theater. After living here for nearly two years, though, I’ve realized the uncomfortable truth: It’s nothing special.

I’ve only been here once, to see a screening of the documentary “Fire of Love” in August 2022. As usual, I was running late, so I sprinted from the train, frantically (and, ultimately, unsuccessfully) attempting to follow directions on my phone until I realized that I’d passed the same coffee shop three times. Though I managed to make it to the theater before the previews ended, it was pitch-black as I stumbled to my seat, causing me to drop my phone and blast Taylor Swift’s “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together” to everyone in the theater for a solid 30 seconds until I managed to fish it out from between the seats and turn the volume down. 

That’s not really the theater’s fault, but I don’t care. Second to last.

  1. Alamo Drafthouse Lower Manhattan

It’s hard to compare the Alamo Drafthouse to any other theater — where else can you sip on a margarita or merlot (or, for the underage community, water, I guess) while watching the latest release. One obvious point of comparison, though, is price: Calling the Alamo Drafthouse expensive is the understatement of the century. After spending $19 on your ticket, be prepared to drop at least $40 on food and drinks, pre-tip. Every once in a while, though, it’s a fun time. 

  1. Village East by Angelika

The Angelikas join “Star Wars,” “High School Musical” and “The Hunger Games” in proving that sometimes, the sequel actually is better than the original. The Village East, located directly across the street from my personal favorite New York restaurant, John’s of 12th Street, is the Angelika’s cooler, artsier sister and serves as the home for iconic events like Hitchcocktober and midnight screenings of Tommy Wiseau’s “The Room.”

  1. The Paris Theater

Operated by Netflix, The Paris Theater is a historic New York fixture, as it’s currently the only single-screen theater in the city. Often, it’s the only option to see Netflix original movies on the big screen. It also programs a sizable amount of older, repertory content.

If you want to watch an esoteric, arthouse film with a group of 15 senior citizens, I know just the place for you: Film at Lincoln Center, located around the corner from Fordham Lincoln Center.

While the uncomfortable, tightly packed seats and limited programming — it’s hard to have a wide range of films when you only have one screen to work with — have knocked this theater down a few places on my list, the inexpensive concessions and old-style vibe make The Paris Theater a must-visit.

  1. Film at Lincoln Center

If you want to watch an esoteric, arthouse film with a group of 15 senior citizens, I know just the place for you: Film at Lincoln Center, located around the corner from Fordham Lincoln Center. From the breakout indie “Aftersun” to Golden Lion-winning documentary “All the Beauty and the Bloodshed,” the films I’ve seen at Film at Lincoln Center have been some of my favorite moviegoing experiences so far. 

Every year, Film at Lincoln Center hosts the world-famous New York Film Festival (NYFF), hosting premieres for some of the biggest movies of the year. In 2022, NYFF premiered the Netflix documentary “Sr.,” focusing on the life of Robert Downey Sr. I was able to attend a question-and-answer session with the filmmakers afterward, including Robert Downey Jr. The festival also hosted the U.S. premieres of Oscar-winner “Women Talking” and Oscar-nominee “Triangle of Sadness.”

  1. IFC Center

Located in the heart of Greenwich Village, the IFC Center is a fixture in the just-moved-to-New-York-and-thinks-they’re-cool community, screening everything from new indie releases to iconic repertory programming. (As of writing this ranking, they’re screening Richard Linklater’s “Before” trilogy, and I’m typing this through tears because I’m not there.)

The summit of Mount Cinephilia, my personal favorite movie theater in New York City — and probably the world — is Film Forum.

If you’re reading this article in 2030 and Sight and Sound magazine’s “Greatest Films of All Time” list just came out, get excited: The IFC Center is probably screening many of them in celebration. During finals last semester, I saw “Beau Travail” with 17 (probably) college students who have definitely unironically proclaimed themselves “film bros” on more than one occasion. Totally worth it.

  1. AMC Lincoln Square 13

In addition to being the centerpiece of Fordham Lincoln Center moviegoing culture, AMC Lincoln Square 13 is a national treasure. Home to one of the largest IMAX screens in the country, AMC Lincoln Square is the only place for a true cinephile to see the latest blockbusters. And, luckily for Fordham Lincoln Center students, it’s just a five-minute walk from campus. 

In addition to the famous IMAX screen, AMC Lincoln Square has a Dolby Cinema, which has, in my opinion, the most comfortable movie theater seats in the city and the best immersive sound experience. I’m a Dolby-over-IMAX truther — argue with the wall.

  1. Film Forum

At long last, we’ve arrived at the top of my list. The summit of Mount Cinephilia, my personal favorite movie theater in New York City — and probably the world — is Film Forum. What isn’t there to love about Film Forum? The concessions are cheap; the programming is reliable; and it’s located directly across from the Houston Street subway station, where the 1 train stops. (For those unfamiliar with the subway, that means it’s very easily accessible from Fordham Lincoln Center.)

I lost my Film Forum virginity to a screening of the first film by “Uncut Gems” directors Josh and Benny Safdie, “Daddy Longlegs,” which was accompanied by a question-and-answer session with the directors. Since then, I’ve made the trip on the 1 train for countless films, from Martin Scorsese’s “The Last Waltz” to Bernardo Bertolucci’s “The Conformist.” Each month, I receive excited texts from my dad with photos of listings he’s circled in Film Forum’s newsletter for the upcoming month, asking if I want to go with him. 

New York City is a cinephile’s paradise; there’s always a new film to see, a panel to catch, or a premiere to attend, and we’re lucky to still have a relatively thriving arthouse cinema scene. While I love the AMCs around the city, you should support the smaller theaters! You never know what new favorite you’ll discover, surrounded by 80-year-old retirees at Film at Lincoln Center. And, worst case scenario, at least you’ll save $10 on the popcorn.