The chain movie theaters are all over the place in New York, but what about independent cinemas? They are aplenty as well... and these are some of my favorites.
Owned by Clearview Cinemas, so technically not an indie house, the Ziegfeld is one of the only remaining old-school movie palaces (it seats more than 1,300 people). It's still the site of many a NYC premiere, but on other nights it's a return to what it must have felt like to see a movie in 1933 (except with more special effects and, you know, color).
I positively adore this theater, which is the oldest continually run art house in the United States. I've also seen someone "famous" on line almost every time I've seen a film here -- my favorite being Ethan Hawke.
Yeah, you won't find niceties here. Welcome to a blast from Manhattan's past, a subterranean movie theater whose small screens are more than made up for with the selection of films screened there.
Home to a collection of more than 1,400 movie artifacts -- including Yoda! -- this museum offers insight into every aspect of the movie-making process. It also offers movie screenings -- sometimes with films given pseudonyms to mask what's really being shown.
The purported birthplace of experimental NYC cinema, the theater here continues to screen eclectic films. It's also an international center for film research, if that sort of thing interests you.
This is one of my favorite places in the world to see movies -- not only do you get to see contemporary independent releases but the Film Forum brings back older films you'd probably never hear of otherwise.
Owned by the same family since 1972, the Quad is a Greenwich Village institution that screens the best of independent, underground, and experimental cinema.
Every Woody Allen movie released in the last ten years, I've seen for the first time at the Angelika. This wasn't on purpose; it just happened. The cafe is particularly well stocked (especially on vegan options).
There are a ton of events here, but my favorites are the mix of movies (foreign, mainstream, indies, and classics) shown on a regular basis.
Technically part of a chain, I still consider this an independent film house, because it shows indie films (as well as quirky mainstream movies). The Yonah Schimmel Knishery is right down the street, making it easy to stop off for a pre-movie knish!
With state-of-the-art technology and an amazing sound system, you can't go wrong here. Screenings range from classics to modern indie films, and the society often hosts mini-festivals focusing on a particular actor, director, or genre.
The midnight films here are my favorite; a few months ago I was wandering by after a dinner date and noticed Taxi Driver was playing in less than ten minutes. I jumped on the chance to see it... and realized that for 20 years I'd been misremembering the ending!
Offering a mix of mainstream and indie films, the Village East Cinema was once a vaudeville theater. These days, it's a multiplex offering smaller theaters as well as one large one, which screens whatever's most popular that week.