“Genius is the true mystery, and at its edge—the abyss.” — Guillermo Del Toro
When you’re a director as acclaimed and adored as Academy-award winning Pan’s Labirynth and Shape of Water creator Guillermo Del Toro, you have certainly had your fair share of cinematic education. While Del Toro studied at the University of Guadalajara, in truth, he learned most of his skills working with his hands as the special effects assistant to Dick Smith or simply creating small films wherever he could — creating fantasy worlds to get lost in. Like many before him, Del Toro’s real education in the movie world came from sitting in front of the screen.
It means when he was asked to create a list of the ten greatest films ever made for BFI’s Sight and Sound poll back in 2012, the director was more than happy to not only provide his imposing list of classics but also share his thoughts on each one too. You can read the full entry here, but below, we have the best movies ever made, according to Guillermo Del Toro.
When creating a list like this, there are bound to be several films that should be included by every single person asked. Picking out the undoubted landmark film from Federico Fellini, 8½ was perhaps one of his easiest choices: “A true classic has to be both intimate and universal,” the director wrote. “To speak about cinema through cinema requires a voice unwavering in its passion and purity. 8½ speaks as much about life as it does about art — and it makes certain to connect both. A portrait of the teller and his craft — a lustful, sweaty, gluttonous poem to cinema.”
Also included on Del Toro’s list of the 10 best films ever made is Jean Cocteau‘s 1946 gem Beauty and the Beast, which the director spoke about with great passion: “La Belle et la Bête is the most perfect cinematic fable ever told. After Méliès, only Cocteau has understood that perfect simplicity is required to tell a fairytale – and that nothing but the power of pure cinema is needed to create awe and wonder.”
Of course, when faced with such an imposing title, “The greatest films ever made,” one instantly turns to the true greats of cinema, and you don’t get much greater than Alfred Hitchcock. Del Toro picks out his 1943 film Shadow of A Doubt as his favourite, “Shadow of A Doubt is one of the perfect Hitchcocks – the very first true American Gothic he made, and an eerie portrait of the world of the past being transformed by the touch of evil. As quintessentially American as Edward Hopper or Harper Lee.” Del Toro also pays homage to Charlie Chaplin and the iconic Nosferatu which he calls a “symphony of fear.”
Del Toro doesn’t reserve his praise for the black and white classics of cinema, though, and heaped praise on Martin Scorsese’s 1990 feature film Goodfellas, noting it as the director giving “birth to the 21st century in one of the most influential films of the last two decades. A movie that can be rewatched endlessly and remain fresh and surprising. Perfect in every aspect, behind and in front of the camera.”
The director also pays special attention to Luis Buñuel, the acclaimed Spanish director who would turn the fortunes of Mexican cinema around. Naturally, a storyteller close to Del Toro’s heart, he said this when selecting his 1950 film Los Olvidados: “I am certain that my favourite Buñuel is the Mexican period Buñuel and of all his films, Los Olvidados and El (1953) shine the brightest. His surreal, anarchist spirit cuts the deepest when used against a conventional genre or a commercial constraint.”
Adding: “This example of the golden era of Mexican cinema packs a punch, never flinching in depicting innocence suffocating by rules and concrete buildings. Ruthless Dickens as regurgitated by an atheist.”
It completes one of the most impressive lists we’ve ever seen. Take this down to your local cinema and try to find a patron who will fight the inclusion of any of the ten films mentioned. We bet you’ll be fighting with yourself. Below, find the ten greatest films ever made according to Guillermo Del Toro.
Guillermo Del Toro picks 10 best films ever made:
- 8½ — Federico Fellini
- La Belle et la Bete — Jean Cocteau
- Frankenstein — James Whale
- Freaks — Tod Browning
- Goodfellas — Martin Scorsese
- Greed — Erich von Stroheim
- Los Olvidados — Luis Buñuel
- Modern Times — Charles Chaplin
- Nosferatu — F. W. Murnau
- Shadow of A Doubt — Alfred Hitchcock