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Martin Scorsese's 12 favourite films of all time


“Cinema is a matter of what’s in the frame and what’s out.”― Martin Scorsese

A list created by Martin Scorsese detailing his favourite films of all time has surfaced online, a wide-ranging selection of iconic cinematic history pieced together by a modern great. Of course, it is a collection of films that must be taken with a pinch of salt, largely because the director has offered so many over the years. From his favourite movies with the realm of foreign cinema to his favourite British films, anything the acclaimed director shares has been relentlessly pawed over — but this list feels a little more definitive.

Part of the New Hollywood wave of filmmaking, 78-year-old Scorsese had previously been taking some time out while in a period of self-isolation following the release of his most recent project, The Irishman, which famously brought together the likes of Robert De Niro, Al Pacino and Joe Pesci in an all-star cast. However, now the director has confirmed that he is working on a new project featuring DeNiro and Leonardo DiCaprio, titled Killers of the Flower Moon.

Scorsese’s love for cinema knows no bounds; a deep-seated obsession for filmmaking has been engrained into his life from the age of three when his parents began taking him to the cinema. “Movies touch our hearts and awaken our vision, and change the way we see things,” the filmmaker once famously said. “They take us to other places, they open doors and minds. Movies are the memories of our lifetime, we need to keep them alive.” 

Having started creating ludicrously impressive storyboards at the age of 11, Scorsese has repeatedly paid homage to some of cinema’s all-time greats throughout his career. “The term ‘giant’ is used too often to describe artists,” Scorsese once said when asked about some of cinema’s most creative forces. “But in the case of Akira Kurosawa, we have one of the rare instances where the term fits,” he added.

So it comes as a slight surprise, then, that Scorsese opted not to include the great Japanese artist as part of the list of his favourite films of all time, which he created for Sight and Sound magazine. Mind you; he didn’t leave much space for manoeuvring the acclaimed director.

The inclusion of Luchino Visconti film The Leopard should come as little surprise to those who have followed Scorsese’s career choices over the years and, in numerous interviews, how the director has referenced those who have inspired him. When discussing Visconti in previous years, Scorsese said: “He has often been referred to as a great political artist, but that’s too limiting and frozen a description,” with renewed admiration.

“He had a strong sense of the particular manner in which absolutely everyone, from the Sicilian fishermen in his neorealist classic La Terra Trema to the Venetian aristocrats in Senso, was affected by the grand movements of history,” he added.

Many other titles on this list will be regular viewing for those among us devoted to cinema. However, if by some chance you’ve not seen the reem of films mentioned by Martin Scorsese, then there is no better time than now to begin watching them. By the end of the twelfth film, you’ll be supremely entertained and educated in the wonderful world of cinema.

Martin Scorsese’s 12 favourite films of all time:

  • 2001: A Space OdysseyStanley Kubrick, 1968.
  • – Federico Fellini, 1963.
  • Ashes and Diamonds – Andrzej Wajda, 1958.
  • Citizen Kane – Orson Welles, 1941.
  • The Leopard – Luchino Visconti, 1963.
  • Paisan – Roberto Rossellini, 1946.
  • The Red Shoes – Michael Powell/Emeric Pressburger, 1948.
  • The River – Jean Renoir, 1951.
  • Salvatore Giuliano – Francesco Rosi, 1962.
  • The Searchers – John Ford, 1956.
  • Ugetsu Monogatari – Mizoguchi Kenji, 1953.
  • VertigoAlfred Hitchcock, 1958.

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