Given the generous tax exemptions our great state of Louisiana offers filmmakers, New Orleans has been host to the creation of plenty of movies and serves as the setting for many. In celebration of these great cinematic feats and the upcoming New Orleans Film Fest, we have compiled a list of the best of these Nola-set movies.
#5: Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans
Yes, this first movie does star infamous quasi-local Nicholas Cage, but don’t stop reading just yet! This reimagining of the 1992 Werner Herzog film by the same name actually boasts some great performances from Mr. Cage and costar Eva Mendez. Follow Cage’s character of a disturbed, narcotics-fueled officer, as he becomes tangled up with drug dealers, bookies, murderers and of course, fellow men in uniform.
#4 Interview with a Vampire
Kirsten Dunst’s breakout role of a woman trapped in the body of a young girl for decades never fails to entertain those in the mood for a dramatic and dark tale of the undead. This twisted movie follows the relationships of vampires as they travel from New Orleans to Paris, then back again- leaving bloodied victims in their wake. Excellent performances by Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt make this movie a good time for anyone who enjoys drama and action, and the art design and score each earned an Oscar nomination. This is a great option for anyone living with teenagers requesting Twilight. Look to get them hooked on the plot before they notice no one is sparkling!
#3 The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
It will come as no surprise that Nola enthusiast Brad Pitt makes a second appearance on the list, this time with the 2008 blockbuster he costarred in with Cate Blanchett. The postmodern storyline dreamt up by F. Scott Fitzgerald and brought to life by director David Fincher follows the, well, curious, case of a man who ages backwards. Nominated for thirteen Oscars, including Best Picture and Actor, there is no denying this is one of the greatest films set in Nola.
To add to the fun- visit Button’s house, located in the Garden District at 2707 Coliseum.
#2 The Princess and the Frog
Marking a return to traditional Disney animation, as well as a break from traditional white, blonde Disney princesses, (apologies to exceptions: Pocahontas, Jasmine, Ariel and Snow White!) the Princess and the Frog brings the magic of animation and childhood wonder to the Big Easy. Incorporating all of the important aspects of New Orleans, (read: food, music, Voodoo, swamps) this movie is a heartwarming tale that people of all ages can enjoy.
#1 A Streetcar Named Desire
The 1951 movie, or the 1984 movie, or the 1995 movie, or the 1947 play, or the 2012 musical scored by Nola local Terrence Blanchard. (Catch him at Voodoo Festival this year!) Really, go see any iteration of this age-old whirlwind of drama that tops the list for Nola-set entertainment.
In the process of identifying these excellent films, some less than cinematically exceptional New Orleans-set films popped up that we felt deserved to be recognized.
Given New Orleans’ reputation for embracing the spooky and other worldly, it seems that some filmmakers have taken initiative to produce scarily misguided horror films in the Big Easy.
Zombie! Vs. Mardi Gras, The Last Exorcism Part II and Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter top the list for worst ideas, worst acting and greatest cinematic detriment to Nola culture. Although it is undeniably creative to frame President Lincoln as the protector of the living in the realm of the undead, watching a room of fifth graders recite the Gettysburg Address for two hours would be a better experience than Tim Burton’s cross-genre experiment. As for Zombie! Vs. Mardi Gras and the Last Exorcism Part II- if after hearing the names of these films you’re still interested in viewing them, then by all means go for it. You just might enjoy these atrocities.
In a different but equally scary type of horror film, the acting in both Love, Wedding, Marriage and A Little Bit of Heaven earned these two "romantic" "comedies" an honorable mention in the worst movies set in New Orleans. Apologies to Mandy Moore and Kate Hudson- but not your best work.