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Tuesday, June 28, 2022

25 best Florida movies with locations including Tampa, Miami, Orlando

Deciding on a movie to watch can be tough – especially if you don’t have a specific topic in mind. To help, we revisited a whole bunch of the most popular, famous and critically acclaimed movies primarily set and shot in our home state of Florida. Some held up a lot better than others. 

Over a century of filmmaking here, Florida has experienced all the highs and lows. We’ve created Best Picture Oscar winners “The Greatest Show on Earth” and “Moonlight,” and box-office hits ranging from Ron Howard’s family-friendly films to the raunchy sex comedy “Porky’s.” The Sunshine State also is responsible for movies regularly considered among the worst ever, including the beyond awful “American Idol” spin-off “From Justin to Kelly.”

But if you survey our overall cinematic track record, we’re looking pretty good. Here are 25 of our favorite films about living, loving and, yes, committing crimes in Florida. Note: this list excludes such classics as “Citizen Kane,” “The Godfather Part II” and “Goodfellas,” which have scenes in the Sunshine State but mainly take place elsewhere. We also skipped movies such as “Some Like it Hot,” “Key Largo” and “The Longest Yard” that were set in Florida but primarily shot in states like California and Georgia.

Presented in alphabetical order, here they are. 

Best Florida beaches:10 of our favorites

Best Florida beachfront restaurants:10 of our favorites

Five things for every Floridians:To eat, drink, read, watch and listen to at least once

25 songs by Black women:That rocked the music world, from the 1920s to 2020

Best Florida musicians:Southern rock to Miami sound, the Sunshine State’s most influential musicians

Ticket Newsletter:Sign up to receive the latest news on things to do, restaurants and more every Friday

From left, Tom Hanks, Kevin Bacon and Bill Paxton in the 1995 film “Apollo 13.”

‘Apollo 13’ (1995)

Filmed on location, at least partially, at Kennedy Space Center, “Apollo 13” is Ron Howard’s gripping retelling of the near-disastrous 1970 attempt by NASA to return to the moon. Tom Hanks, Kevin Bacon, Bill Paxton, Gary Sinise, Ed Harris and Kathleen Quinlan all turn in memorable performances, with Harris and Quinlan earning Oscar nominations. 

“The Birdcage” stars Robin Williams and Nathan Lane.

‘The Birdcage’ (1996)

South Beach serves as the setting for director Mike Nichols’ and screenwriter Elaine May’s blockbuster remake of the Franco-Italian comedy “La Cage aux Folles.” The inspired casting finds Robin Williams and Nathan Lane playing a gay couple trying to pass themselves off as straight for the benefit of their son. One of the funniest films of the ’90s, “The Birdcage” was nominated for a GLAAD Media Award. 

Kathleen Turner and William Hurt in a scene from the 1981 film "Body Heat."

‘Body Heat’ (1981)

Largely shot in Palm Beach County and set during a fierce Florida heatwave, “Body Heat” is a “Double Indemnity”-inspired serving of neo-noir mastery starring Kathleen Turner as the femme fatale who wants her husband murdered by her lover (William Hurt). The film marks the directorial debut of Lawrence Kasdan, who was born in Miami Beach. 

Chevy Chase, left, and Bill Murray in "Caddyshack."

‘Caddyshack’ (1980)

One of the most hilarious and quotable movies ever made, Harold Ramis’ slobs-versus-snobs classic “Caddyshack” – featuring killer comedic performances by Chevy Chase, Rodney Dangerfield, Ted Knight and Bill Murray – filmed its golf scenes at Rolling Hills Golf Club (now the Grande Oaks Golf Club) in Broward County, with the dinner scene shot at the Boca Raton Resort & Club. 

‘Cocoon’ (1985)

While St. Petersburg’s reputation as “God’s waiting room” didn’t get any help from this film, Ron Howard’s “Cocoon” remains a heartwarming sci-fi fantasy featuring an all-star cast including Don Ameche, who won an Oscar. The film spawned the 1988 sequel “Cocoon: The Return” (with filming in Miami), while Howard returned to Florida for the hit 1989 comedy “Parenthood,” largely filmed around Orlando, and “Apollo 13.” 

Paul Newman stars in "Cool Hand Luke."

‘Cool Hand Luke’ (1967)

Set and, at least partially, shot in the Sunshine State – it’s based on a book by safecracker Donn Pearce, who did a couple of years in the Florida Dept. of Corrections chain gangs after being arrested in 1949 – “Cool Hand Luke” stands out in the prison movie genre thanks to a tour-de-force performance by Paul Newman, whose endearingly boyish smirk and disarming blue eyes are perfect for bringing to life the vision of inmate Lucas “Luke” Jackson.


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