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Top 12 Movies about Urbanism

Movie poster for "Blade Runner"Chris Leinberger, a nonresident senior fellow affiliated with the Metropolitan Policy Program at Brookings, and Lisa Leinberger of the The Phillips Collection present a list of the top 12 movies about urbanism. Writing on Next City, they say that:

Movies play a powerful, if rarely recognized, role in how we understand urbanism, whether they are set in drivable suburban or walkable urban places. So in the run-up to the Academy Awards on March 2, it seems appropriate and mildly educational to present our entirely subjective list of the top 12 movies about urbanism.

We used three criteria to add a veneer of scholarly rigor to our rankings. First, the movies had to be popular, not obscure indie films. Second, the urban/suburban setting was an essential “character” in the film, even if a subtle one. Third, there are lessons to learn from the film about urbanism and its consequences on society, economics and the environment.

Read their analysis and watch some movie clips on nextcity.org, but if you just want to know the titles, here they are:

1. Back to the Future I & II (1985, 1989)
2. Chinatown (1974)
3. Blade Runner (1982)
4. Do the Right Thing (1989)
5. It's a Wonderful Life (1946)
6. Sunshine State (2002)
7. The Truman Show (1998)
8. The Majestic (2001)
9. Metropolis (1927)
10. You've Got Mail (1998)
11. Blue Jasmine (2013)
12. Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House (1948)


Leinberger is the author of many Brookings papers on urbanism and downtown revitalization, including:

Walk this Way:The Economic Promise of Walkable Places in Metropolitan Washington, D.C.
Footloose and Fancy Free: A Field Survey of Walkable Urban Places in the Top 30 U.S. Metropolitan Areas

 

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