“I really am motivated by being able to work with great people and create a body of work that I can look back and be proud of.”—Leonardo DiCaprio
It can be easy to feel overwhelmed about the sheer volume of incredible titles highlighted to you as some of the best the world of cinema has ever made. Hell, Martin Scorsese has listed hundreds as some of his favourite films of all time, providing an essential watch list for any budding cinephile. Thankfully, the actor and beloved heartthrob, Leonardo DiCaprio, as a succinct list of unmissable feature films.
The Oscar-winning actor, who has worked with some of the all-time greats and continues to thrive as arguably the biggest name in Hollywood, has been a relentless cinephile from his formative years, a time when he clearly envisioned his time in front of a camera. It also gave him an insatiable appetite for watching films as well as making them.
“I grew up when I was 15 when I had my first opportunity in movies,” the actor once commented. “I watched every great movie for a year and a half, and since then I’ve asked myself how I can emulate such artistry. That’s really my motivation. I want to do something as good as my heroes have done.” It goes a long way to show the level of commitment DiCaprio dedicated to his craft from a young age.
So when he was asked by both Esquire and the Golden Globes to pick out some of his all-time favourite films, some of the names involved might not come as such as a surprise. Given the fact that DiCaprio has appeared in a host of Martin Scorsese films such as The Aviator, Shutter Island, The Wolf of Wall Street and The Departed, the actor was quick to pick out the director’s 1976 masterpiece Taxi Driver as one of the films to seriously impact him.
“The only other person who knows as much about film as Martin Scorsese is Steven Spielberg,” DiCaprio once explained in an interview with Esquire. “I went from working with Marty on Gangs of New York to working with Steven on Catch Me If You Can. I had to publicise both movies at the same time, and people would always ask me, What are the differences between Spielberg and Scorsese? All I could find myself talking about was the similarities.”
Always in awe of Scorsese’s work, DiCaprio heaped heavy praise on the filmmaker when presenting The Irishman director with the Robert Osborne Award at the TCM Classic Film Festival in 2018. “As a young actor standing beside him during the creative process of making a movie, I discovered that just like a painting, a sculpture, music or theatre, film was just as essential, relevant, as a matter of fact, the most integral art form of our time,” DiCaprio said. “I felt I could truly own the term artist by working alongside him.”
With a list made up of DiCaprio’s seven favourite pictures, the actor, desperate to show his wide range of understanding, insisted that his list submitted to the Golden Globes must include some of his favourites from varying genres such as comedy, animation and drama.
DiCaprio has never been shy about discussing his admiration Stanley Kubrick and, more specifically, 2001: A Space Odyssey which the actor has often cited as one of his all-time favourites. It’s beyond a movie—it’s a spiritual experience,” he said in the same Esquire issue.
“You have to submerge yourself in it with the idea that Kubrick’s intent was to make us understand our relationship with the universe. The more you watch it the more questions it asks.”
The collection, including the likes of Kubrick and Scorsese, also finds a spot for Hayao Miyazaki, Federico Fellini and more.
See the selections, below.
Leonardo DiCaprio’s 7 favourite films:
- 2001: A Space Odyssey – Stanley Kubrick (1968)
- Taxi Driver – Martin Scorsese (1976)
- Bicycle Thieves – Vittorio De Sica (1948)
- East of Eden – Elia Kazan (1955)
- When Harry Met Sally – Rob Reiner (1989)
- Princess Mononoke – Hayao Miyazaki (1997)
- 8½ – Federico Fellini (1963)