Group of people watch a horror movie at the cinema

Massachusetts Movies!

We’ve all been there. Watching a random movie and seeing something familiar. Was that the Esplanade by the Harbor? If you were watching Free Guy, Ted or Blown Away yes it was! Or maybe it’s a house on a chilly windswept beach. IS THAT IN SICHUATE?! If you were watching the recent Academy Award Winning film American Fiction, yes it was! There’s no doubt that there are a lot of films that have been made in Boston and Massachusetts. But which of these Massachusetts Movies is the best?

My Mission

That’s what I set out to find out after watching American fiction, which is primarily set in Boston. It’s an Academy award-winning movie, but is it the best movie set in Massachusetts? My criteria was to go to rotten tomatoes, which has the aggregate score of every major movie critic as well as Audience voted scores. And I also used Wikipedia to find a list of every major film set or shot in Boston and Massachusetts.

My Criteria

There have been literally hundreds of movies set or shot in Boston. Not just the obvious one’s like Good Will Hunting or Fever Pitch. Other ones like The Firm and Mermaids (do you even remember that Cher movie from the early 90s? I barely did. I remember the song from it more). The reason so many movies are set here is kind of obvious when you think about it. 30% of movies are based on books and Boston and Massachusetts have long been known for their higher education as well as literary traditions. Couple that with the, let’s say, unique nature of the culture in the Bay State and you have a place that makes for a perfect backdrop for a lot of movies.

The Best Massachusetts Movies

But back to the question. Which Massachusetts movies are the best? And maybe even more important which one is the worst? Well check out the list below to find the answer!

Quick Note: Some of these are not in actuality set in Boston/Massachusetts but were filmed there. For instance Amity Island in Jaws is supposed to be in New York. However it was filmed on Martha’s Vinyard. Also not all of them take place entirely in Boston or Massachusetts but have key scenes in the area.

  • Worst: Deck The Halls

    I love Danny Devito, I love Mathew Broderick. This is not the worst movie I’ve ever watched, because I did watch it to completion. But it is the worst movie I have ever finished. And it’s the worst Massachusetts Movie.

    Deck the Halls

    Critic Rating: 6

    Audience Rating: 30

    Consensus: “Relying on flat humor and a preposterous plot, Deck the Halls is an unnecessarily mean-spirited holiday movie that does little to put viewers in a holiday mood.”



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  • Honorable Mention: The Boondock Saints

    I’m including this because I have several friends and listeners who would kill me if I didn’t. It’s not one of the best movies according to my criteria, those are further down.

    The Boondock Saints

    Critic Rating: 26

    Audience Rating: 91

    Consensus: Critics absolutely HATED this movie”A juvenile, ugly movie that represents the worst tendencies of directors channeling Tarantino.” BUT Audiences if loved it. This is the biggest disparity between critics and audience for any movie set in Massachusetts. 

  • #14 Mystic River

    Mystic River (film)

    Critic Rating: 89

    Audience Rating: 89

    Consensus: “Anchored by the exceptional acting of its strong cast, Mystic River is a somber drama that unfolds in layers and conveys the tragedy of its story with visceral power.”


  • #13 Captain America Civil War

    Captain America: Civil War

    Critic Rating: 91

    Audience Rating: 89

    Consensus: “Captain America: Civil War begins the next wave of Marvel movies with an action-packed superhero blockbuster boasting a decidedly non-cartoonish plot and the courage to explore thought-provoking themes.”


  • #12 Gone Baby Gone

    Gone Baby Gone

    Critic Rating: 94

    Audience Rating: 86

    Consensus: “Ben Affleck proves his directing credentials in this gripping dramatic thriller, drawing strong performances from the excellent cast and bringing working-class Boston to the screen.”


  • #11 The Fighter

    The Fighter

    Critic Rating: 91

    Audience Rating: 89

    Consensus: “Led by a trio of captivating performances from Mark Wahlberg, Christian Bale, and Amy Adams, The Fighter is a solidly entertaining, albeit predictable, entry in the boxing drama genre.


  • #10 The Social Network

    The Social Network

    Critic Rating: 96

    Audience Rating: 87

    Consensus: “Impeccably scripted, beautifully directed, and filled with fine performances, The Social Network is a riveting, ambitious example of modern filmmaking at its finest.”

  • #9 The Departed

    The Departed

    Critic Rating: 91

    Audience Rating: 94

    Consensus: “Featuring outstanding work from an excellent cast, The Departed is a thoroughly engrossing gangster drama with the gritty authenticity and soupy morality we come to expect from Martin Scorsese.”

  • #8 Jaws


    Critic Rating: 97

    Audience Rating: 90

    Consensus: “Compelling, well-crafted storytelling and a judicious sense of terror ensure Steven Spielberg’s Jaws has remained a benchmark in the art of delivering modern blockbuster thrills.”


  • #7 Little Women 2019

    Little Women

    Critic Rating: 95

    Audience Rating: 92

    Consensus: “With a stellar cast and a smart, sensitive retelling of its classic source material, Greta Gerwig’s Little Women proves some stories truly are timeless.”

  • #6 Glory


    Critic Rating: 95

    Audience Rating: 93

    Consensus: “Bolstered by exceptional cinematography, powerful storytelling, and an Oscar-winning performance by Denzel Washington, Glory remains one of the finest Civil War movies ever made.”

  • #5 Knives Out

    Knives Out

    Critic Rating: 97

    Audience Rating: 92

    Consensus: “Knives Out sharpens old murder-mystery tropes with a keenly assembled suspense outing that makes brilliant use of writer-director Rian Johnson’s stellar ensemble.”


  • #4 American Fiction

    American Fiction

    Critic Rating: 93

    Audience Rating: 96

    Consensus: “Jeffrey Wright and American Fiction will forever be inextricable thanks to the actor’s committed approach to playing the main character.”

  • #3 The Holdovers

    The Holdovers

    Critic Rating: 97

    Audience Rating: 92

    Consensus: “Beautifully bittersweet, The Holdovers marks a satisfying return to form for director Alexander Payne.”

  • #2 Spotlight


    Critic Rating: 97

    Audience Rating: 93

    Synopsis: “Spotlight gracefully handles the lurid details of its fact-based story while resisting the temptation to lionize its heroes, resulting in a drama that honors the audience as well as its real-life subjects.”

  • #1 Good Will Hunting

    Good Will Hunting
    Critic Rating: 97
    Audience Rating: 94
    Consensus: “It follows a predictable narrative arc, but Good Will Hunting adds enough quirks to the journey — and is loaded with enough powerful performances — that it remains an entertaining, emotionally rich drama”

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