Best Movies Set in Chicago

Let’s face it, there’s no way to list every single one of the best movies set in Chicago. Our collection inevitably leaves out somebody’s favorite Chicago movie. The fans of Ferris Buller’s Day Off, for example, will be very disappointed in a Best of Chicago Movies list that focuses on gritty, edgy films like Christopher Nolan’s Batman series, which uses Chicago locations as a stand-in for Gotham, or the Clive Barker horror-fest Candyman.

Our list is more about the city than the genre or content of the film; there are plenty of movies where Chicago is just as much a star as any of the big Hollywood names who show up in the films. See below the Best of list if you want to see the full list of movies filmed in Chicago.

Best Movies Filmed in Chicago

Best Movies Set In Chicago

The Blues Brothers

 It’s a hoary old classic from the 1980s, but one that shows more of Chicago and the surrounding area than probably any other film ever made.

And it has an all-star cast including Carrie Fisher, James Brown, Aretha Franklin, and too many other musical luminaries to name. John Belushi and Dan Ackroyd take their SNL characters to the big screen not realizing that they’ve accidentally started an entire film movement bringing small-screen comedy to Hollywood. And on that note…

Wayne’s World

SNL’s Mike Myers and Dana Carvey bring their lovable lunkheaded antics off the SNL set and onto the silver screen and somehow manage to pull off a feature-length movie out of the concept.

The fictional TV show Wayne’s World is set in Aurora, Illinois, which technically makes it a film for this list since Aurora is known to many locals as being part of “Chicagoland” which reaches far beyond the Magnificent Mile and into suburban Chicago areas such as Oak Park, Joliet, and Aurora, Illinois.

Batman Begins, The Dark Knight, The Dark Knight Rises, The Batman

In the interest of space, it makes sense to lump all these Batman films together by virtue of how much they showcase Chicago and surrounding areas. Some of the most familiar sights of the city show up in these films, and in some cases the director chose not to CGI-out landmarks, signs, and other visuals that specifically tie the movies to Chicago, notably the Franklin Street Bridge and parts of Lower Wacker Drive. The film is not technically set in the city, but the real Chicago is definitely on display.


Director Spike Lee shot his film on gun violence for some five weeks in the Chicago South Side and Englewood, but also at well-known locations such as the now late-great Double Door, the General Jones Armory, and the Chicago Cultural Center.

If you have never seen Chiraq, consider the writeup the Chicago Tribune gave the movie, calling it a satire “based on the Aristophanes play ‘Lysistrata’ from 411 B.C.” In that play, the Tribune notes, “Grecian women withhold sex until their men put an end to the Peloponnesian War”.

Transformers 3: Dark Of The Moon, TransFormers 4: Age of Extinction

Giant metal robots beating each other up in Chicago? Local residents loved it and hated it at the same time during the filming of these movies, which closed down big portions of Wacker Drive, Indiana Avenue, and North Wabash Avenue for filming. The annoyance of the road closures was replaced (for some) with fascination watching a major film production take over major city blocks for two Transformers films in a row.

High Fidelity

No monsters, villains, or giant robots; just John Cusak and Jack Black and their daily misadventures running a fictional major record store in Chicago. The record store in the film was only a few blocks from a real legendary Chicago record store, Reckless Records. Other great Chicago locations featured in this film include the Green Mill, a speakeasy-type watering hole and The Music Box Theater, which is a beautifully preserved old-fashioned mid-century modern movie house.

The Untouchables

Brian de Palma tells the story of Elliot Ness trying to put an end to the Al Capone crime empire. Union Station, the Chicago Cultural Center, and Roosevelt University are all locations used to tell the story. Fun real-life Chicago trivia about the people represented in this movie; one source claims that in 1923, the real-life Al Capone bought a home in the South Side of Chicago just five miles down the road from where a college student named Elliot Ness lived with his parents.

Breakfast Club and Ferris Buller’s Day Off

John Hughes was known as a “Chicago filmmaker” since most of his comedies are set in suburban Chicago as well as Chicago proper. Ferris Buller’s Day Off shows off Michigan Avenue, parts of Des Plaines and Northbrook, where Breakfast Club shows…the inside of a high school. But in spite of this, there’s something strangely Chicago about The Breakfast Club–it’s set in the burbs and shows nothing of the city, it’s true. But the John Hughes vibe is there.

Candyman, Candyman 2, and the 2021 Candyman

Clive Barker’s Candyman series, including the 2021 Candyman directed by Nia DaCosta, are all set in and shot in Chicago. The film’s events take place in Chicago’s Caprini Green district, which was once notorious for violence before it was heavily gentrified; the Candyman series is supernatural horror with a strong social commentary.

The 2021 film was shot in Chicago’s Near North district but also has the distinction of being possibly the first film shot on location at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago. The original Candyman films were also shot in Near North but also at locations on the campus of the University of Illinois at Chicago.


This gritty film features James Caan and a host of Chicago locations including the Shedd Aquarium, Western and Irving Park, and Chinatown. Michael Mann’s feature-length debut is said to be his “most Chicago” film, and this one features a pulsating score by Tangerine Dream. It’s the classic “retired bank robber does one last job” plot, and stars Chicago actor Jim Belushi alongside Caan, Tuesday Weld, and Willie Nelson.

Eight Men Out

The story of corruption in major league baseball isn’t the draw for some; it’s the fact that it was a true-life story about a Chicago baseball team is the real attraction for fans of Chicago movies. The 1919 Chicago White Sox team will go down in sports history as being one of the most notorious; this film tells the story of eight players permanently banned from big-league baseball after throwing a World Series game.

We include Eight Men Out here because it is directly related to a real-life event central to Chicago’s identity as a city, but it’s also the joker in the pack because most of the locations used to tell this story were shot outside of Chicago; Cincinnati and Louisville being among the most notable. The fact that the movie was made without using the White Sox stadium in any way might have had more to do with aesthetics than anything else, but it’s interesting to note that this film shows up on most Best of Chicago movies lists in spite of it being shot elsewhere.

All Movies Filmed in Chicago

8-Bit ChristmasDear St. Anthony
Christmas …Again?!Hoop Dreams
Good Guy With A GunLady Mary
Hot Mess HolidayLosing Isaiah
Merry SwitchmasMen Of War
The BatmanMiracle on 34th Street
The Year BetweenObjects Rhapsody
2020Richie Rich
All Jacked Up and Full of WormsStrawberry Fields
Christmas AgainStuart Saves his Family
2019The Best Short Feature Ever Made
CandymanThe Joust
I Used To Go HereThe Prodigy
Thunder ForceWhile You Were Sleeping
The Trial of the Chicago 71993
2018Baby’s Day Out
Minding the GapBlink
Book of LeahForever Yours
Canal StreetHim
Captive StateHudsucker Proxy
RampageI Love Trouble
PagesLittle Big League
Soul SessionsMajor League 2
The Christmas GiftMy Life
WidowsNatural Born Killers
Bad Santa 2Scenes from the Soul
Death WishThe Childhood Friend
The Empty ManThe Fence Blue Chips
LandlineThe Fugitive
Mercury in RetrogradeThieves Quartet
Office Christmas PartyWayne’s World 2
Signature MoveWith Honors
ChiraqA Man of Respect
ImperfectionsCaptain Ron 
Jim ShooDennis the Menace
OperatorGroundhog Day
Southside with YouHoffa
Who Get’s the Dog?Home Alone 2
2014Judgement Night
Batman v Superman: Dawn of JusticeMeet the Parents
Sinister 2Rookie of the Year
Insurgent Rudy
UnexpectedSleepless In Seattle
DivergentA League of Their Own
Jupiter AscendingAn American Love
Transformers 4Candy Man
2012Curly Sue
Drinking BuddiesFolks
2011How U Like Me Now?
AlteredJust a Matter of Time
Broken & BeautifulMad Dog & Glory
DirectorsMo’ Money
Just Like a WomanPrelude to a Kiss
Marching BannedPublic Eye
Melody & Old Sock Nate & MargaretRapid Fire
Rose WhiteStand-Up
Roundabout AmericanStraight Talk
Superman: Man of SteelThe Babe
2010Watch It
AliveWayne’s World
Bad Teacher1990
ContagionBix Beiderbecke Pastime
CraveChild’s Play II
Get a JobCritical Action
Laughing Out LoudCurly Sue
Life LessonsHeaven is a Playground
Lino’s LateHome Alone
Motivational GrowthJohnny Ryan
One Small HitchKid Who Loved Christmas
SalvagingOnly the Lonely
ShakeyV.I. Warshawski
Sin Bin 1989
Source CodeCold Justice
The Alumni ChapterFlatliners
The DilemmaGeronimo
The InterrogationMiss Missouri
The Trio ProjectMusic Box
The VowOpportunity Knocks
Transformers 3Shaking the Tree
Turkish CoffeeThe Package
Victim of GravityUncle Buck
2009 Victimless Crime
A Nightmare on Elm Street1988
Bluegrass RunChild’s Play
Couples RetreatLimit’s Up
DistortionMajor League
Einstein’s God ModelMen Don’t Leave
Happily AfterNational Lampoons’ Christmas Vacation
Janie JonesNext of Kin
Polish BarTaxi Killer
Return of Joe RichThe Tender
Schzigo ChicagoWar Zone
The Last Rites of Joe MayWhen Harry Met Sally
The Moleman of Belmont Avenue1987
TrustAbove the Law
What’s your Raashee?Adventures in Babysitting
2008Afterlife with Father
AmeekaAll Set Mr. Pootski
Baby on BoardButterscotch & Chocolate
DesertionMidnight Run
DistortionPlanes, Trains & Automobiles
Eagle EyePoltergeist III
Everybody’s FineRed Heat
Fallen SoulsBetrayed
Fancy PantsSwitching Channels
Five Star DayThe Couch Trip
Formosa BetrayedThe Untouchables
Go For ItThings Change
Hannah FreeVice Versa
HunterA Night in The Life of Jimmy Reardon
LAID: Life as it’s DealtAbout Last Night
MidrangeBig Shots
NeighborhoodEnd of the Line
Nothing Like the HolidaysGoodbye Judy
Public EnemiesHenry: Portrait of a Serial Killer
The HelixLight of Day Native
The InformantSon No Mercy
The LandlordRaw Deal
The RotogravureRent-a-Cop
The SuitcaseShe’s Having a Baby
The UnbornThe Big Town
They Came from UpstairsThe Color of Money
TraitorThe Messenger
2007Club Paradise
Actually, Adieu my LoveDatenight
Chicago OvercoatDeath in California
DiacriticalFerris Bueller’s Day Off
Diminished CapacityLucas
Eagle EyeNothing in Common
Farewell DarknessOuttakes
Fred ClausRaw Deal
Jerry for PresidentRed Dragon
Kit Kittridge: An American GirlRunning Scared
Make it HappenThe Car Thief
Meet the BrownsWildcats
My Friends Told Me About You1984
Of Boys & MenCode of Silence
Seven SolesSavage Beliefs
Sex DriveTouch & Go
Silent Shame1983
SquealCome Around
The Dark KnightHeartbreaker
The Disappearance of Daniel DodgerHere’s Chicago
The ExpressSixteen Candles
The Merry GentlemanStreets of Fire
The Poker HouseSunny
The Root of All Evil (The Cache)The Big Score
The Time Traveler’s WifeThe Naked Face
Were the World MineBad Boys
Witless ProtectionClass
2006Dr. Detroit
Actually Adieu my LoveI Was a Mail Order Bride
Arithmetic LessonNational Lampoon’s Vacation
August RushRisky Business
Beau JestThe Apprentice
Black MailThings Are Tough All Over
Counting BackwardsWindy City
DiacriticalContinental Divide
Fred ClausPennies From Heaven
Grace is GoneThey Call Me Bruce
Grudge 21980
He’s Such a GirlEndless Love
License to WedEscape From NY
Love, Blood CryptoniteFour Friends On The Right Track
Osso BuccoOrdinary People
ProvidenceThe Blues Brothers
ShatteredThe Hunter
SketchesThe Music Box
StashThe Perfect Circle
TapiocaThe Psychotronic Man
The 1/2 Life of Mason LakeThief
The Break-Up1979
The First Breath of Tengan Rei1941
The Promotion (formerly Quebec)My Bodyguard
2005Ordinary People
Batman BeginsRoar
Chasing RobertSomewhere in Time
The Lake HouseThe Hunter
39 – A Film by Carroll McKane1978
The DoorDreamer
A Rain of BloodPromises in the Dark
Drunk BoatTowing
Stranger than Fiction1977
DimensionA Piece of the Action
Crime FictionDamien-Omen II
The GiftStony Island
Riff RaffThe Fury
Say Hello to Clive for meThe Wedding
RolloverLooking for Mr. Goodbar
Let’s go to PrisonMonkey Hustle
Get Pony BoySilverstreak
Flags of our FathersWhisper the Sounds Roller Coaster
All Fall DownCooley High
Get a LifeMahogany Brannigan
A Voice from the Grave1973
Cheaper by the Dozen 2The Sting
Fool’s GoldThree the Hard Way Harry and Tonto
In the Name of GodTough Guys
The PackUptown Saturday Night
Spinning into Butter1972
2004The Gore Gore Girls
The Weather ManThe Naked Ape
Bad City1971
Under the CityRocco Papaleo
Ocean’s TwelveT.R. Baskin
Windy Field1970
Roll BouncePrologue
Finding Preet1969
Relative StrangersGaily Gaily
Amityville HorrorMedium Cool
Christmas with the KranksThe Monitors
Poetic Emancipation1968
The VesselBullitt
Regretful DecisionThe Young Runaways
American Gun1967
The Trouble with Dee DeeCountry Western Hoedown
ProofFearless Frank
DerailedIn the Heat of the Night
Welcome Back to the BarrioThe Busy Body
The Long Goodbye1966
A Series of Small ThingsNashville Rebel
I Want Someone to eat Cheese WithSomething Weird
Surviving Christmas1965
2003Mickey One
Barbershop 21964
Blank VerseGoldstein
Cheaper by the Dozen1963
Connie & CarlaHow the West was Won
Cup of my Blood1962
Even Trade1964
Legally BesiAmerican Revolution 2
Mr. 3000Route 66
No More MondaysThe College
On the OneThe Inheritance
Outing RileyWilderness Calling
RepetitionRaisin in the Sun
Shall we DanceTomboy and the Champ
Strange as Angels1960
Street ThiefThe Prime Time
The Evil OneNorth by Northwest
The Icing on the Cake1957
The LotBeginning of the End
The Weather Man1955
To Kill a KillerChicago Syndicate
Wicker Park1953
2002City That Never Sleeps
Bad MeatThe Joe Louis Story
Bobbie got GroundedChicago Calling
Chicago: The MusicalNative Son
Diagnosis TraumaThe Golden Gloves Story
Insanity the MovieUnion Station
Meditations on Trafficking1948
Midnight MassCall Northside 777
Players and PawnsThe Babe Ruth Story
Skin Complex1947
SolarisCitizen Saint
Spider-Man 21946
StepsThe Life and Miracles of Blessed Mother Cabrini
Surviving Christmas1944
That Defining MomentRoger Touhy, Gangster!
The A-GameThe Navy Navy
The Company1931
The In-Laws Clothe your SoulThree Exile
The KilnThree Girls Lost
The Lot1929
The Weather ManKing of the Rodeo
Uncle Nino1928
WestsideChicago After Midnight
A Ball in the HouseFaith of Millions
DragonflyInternational Eucharistic Congress
Eye of CrueltySweet Adeline
Hale Bopp1923
JoshuaAdam’s Rib
Language BarrierGentle Julia
Missing BrendanThe Little Girl Next Door
Ocean’s Eleven1920
On the Line Stolen SummerDo the Dead Talk?
The Acedia ThingIn the Depths of our Hearts
The MisanthropeWithin our Gates
The Road to Perdition1919
Twelve Minutes to LoveBreed Of Men
Constructing Mulligan StewThe Challenge of Chance
DesignThe Homesteader
DragonflyThrough Hell and Back with the Men of Illinois
DreamcatcherWhere’s Mary?
Driven Present Perfect1918
Experiment MeA Busted Romance
Harbored ThoughtsA Milk Fed Hero
HardballAnd the Children Play
High FidelityAre Working Girls Safe?
Imagine ThisBarnacle Bill
Israel in ExileBilly the Janitor
John QBlack Sherlock Holmes
Life SentenceFixing the Faker
Love RelationsGood Luck in Old Clothes
Mr. IdMercy, the Mummy Mumbled
NovacaineMovie Marionettes
One WeekThe Birth of a Race
Save me a Seat (Liar’s Club)The Bully
Save the Last DanceThe City of Purple Dreams
Short HairsThe Comeback of Barnacle Bill
Stray DogsThe Painters
The Rest of your LifeA Reckless Rover
Unconditional LoveCracked Ice
Vanilla CitySpooks
What Women WantSpying the Spy
1999The Frozen Warning The Baseball Revue of 1917
Adrift in the HeartlandThe Penny Philanthropist
All The RageThe Small Town Guy
Brothers 2When You Hit-Hit Hard
Bruised OrangeWhen You’re Scared, Run
DreamersCousin Jim
Just VisitingDreamy Dud has a Laugh on the Boss
Kwik StopDreamy Dud in the African War Zone
Lana’s RainDreamy Dud Joyriding with Princess Zlim
Life SentenceDreamy Dud, Lost at Sea
Light it UpPower
Madison TricksThe Little Girl Next Door
No TomorrowThe Misleading Lady
One WeekThe Right to Live
Return to MeThe Sting of Victory
Rocky & BullwinkleThe Truant Soul
SmileThree Pals
Soul SurvivorsTwo Knights in Vaudeville
The WatcherUncle Sam Awake
Two Weeks, One YearVernon Howe Bailey’s Sketch Book of Chicago
Unconditional Love1915
Under the BusA Black Sheep
1998Dreamy Dud at the Old Swimmin’ Hole
AftermathDreamy Dud in King Koo Koo’s Kingdom
BetavilleDreamy Dud in Love Dreamy Dud in Swim
Blessings from the Food CourtDreamy Dud Lost in the Jungle
Desperation BoulevardDreamy Dud Resolves not to Smoke
Following PaulaDreamy Dud Sees Charlie Chaplin
Fool’s GoldDreamy Dud Visits the Zoo
Goodbye Spaceship AlDreamy Dud, a Visit to Uncle Dudley’s Farm
Idea MenDreamy Dud, Cowboy
LambDreamy Dud, Goes Bear Hunting
Lawrence MelmDreamy Dud, up in the Air
Love and Action in ChicagoGraustark
MarilynHis New Job
MerlotIn the Palace of the King
Message in a BottleShould a Woman Divorce
My Father’s ShoesThe Crimson Wing
Never Been KissedThe End of the Road
Notes From the FieldThe House of 1000 Candles
PostmortemThe Whirl of Life
Private Dick1914
Pushing TinChicago Herald Movies
ResurrectionGolf Champion Chick Evans Links with Sweedie
Serious BusinessJoliet Prison
Stir of EchoesThe Adventures of Kathlyn
The High LineThe Jungle
The Sphinx FileThe Pit
Three to Tango1913
Time ServedFamous Illinois Canyons and Starved Rock
Two Brothers in a Dope Car1912
Two RiversBrotherhood of Man
Under the BusNepatia, The Greek Singer
WhiteboyzThe Starbucks
A Lover for My HusbandThe Coming of Columbus
Apples and OrangesWinning an Heiress
Blues Brothers 20001910
Casting JudgementGotch-Zbyszko Wrestling Match
Chicago CabHank & Lack: Lifesavers
Deep End of the OceanHenry’s Package
Don’t FlushLevi’s Dilemna
Down in the DeltaThe Wizard of Oz
He Got Game1909
Hope FloatsHunting Big Game in Africa
I DoTen Nights in a Barroom
JunkThe Magic Melody
Kissing a Fool1908
Kitchen EroticaGotch-Hackenschmidt Wrestling
March in the Windy CityThe Baseball Fan
Mercury RisingThe Confession
My Best Friend’s WeddingThe Count of Monte Cristo
Night of the Running Boys1907
Oak Street BeachAn Awful Skate/The Hobo on Rollers
On Becoming BlondeThe Dancing Night
PardesiThe Grafter
Payback Tom & Jerry1906
Return of the LifeThe Tramp and the Dog
Superman LivesHumpty Dumpty
Temporary GirlThe Tramp Dog
The Call1903
The NegotiatorA Hot Time on a Bathing Beach
U.S. MarshalsBusiness Rivalry
Young AmericansChicago Fire Run
A Kick InsideChicago Fireboats on Parade
Chain ReactionThe Girl in Blue
Cold Night Into DawnTrip Around the Union Loop
Do You Wanna Dance?View of State Street
Eating LA1901
Err on the Side of CautionChicago Police Parade
Home Alone IIIDewey Parade
HoodlumGans-McGovern Fight
Love Jones1900
MichaelLincoln Park
My Name is James1898
Primal FearA Chicago Street
Reach the RockIllinois Central Terminal
Sketches Three DaysSoldiers at Play
Soul Food1897
SpacemanCorner Madison & State Streets, Chicago
The Blank Page1896
The Book of SwordsThe Tramp and the Dog
The Chamber 
The Jackal Weird Karma 
You Gotta See This 
A Family Thing 
Comedy Shorts 
Conflicts of Interest  
Freak Occurrences 
Heaven’s Breath 
Paradise Lost 
Shiva’s Rain 
Space Jam 
The American Way 
The Commission 
The Relic 
The Vagrant 

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