Quentin Tarantino films ranked from worst to best
(Credit: Miramax Films)

From Scorsese to Spielberg: Quentin Tarantino picks the 12 greatest films of all time

As we’ve all been locked down in our homes of recent weeks, the need for a continuous roll of incredible films to watch is ever-imposing. Still, with lockdown measures looking now a temporary facet of life, there’s a sense of gobbling up all of the free time you have left. It has left us asking for film recommendations from everyone we speak to and, luckily, we’ve also been given a tip-off from a legendary director as Quentin Tarantino lays down 12 of the greatest films of all time.

There’s no praise higher than one of the greatest filmmakers of all time saying he loves your picture but to list them down as part of his 12 favourites of all time is something different altogether. It acts as the perfect list for anyone starting out on exploring the darker side of Hollywood, the grittier side, the more violent side. If Tarantino had a signature style then violence and blood would be at the centre of it and, as you might imagine, that’s reflected in his choices.

Tarantino, who has often had his films characterised by his unique storyline exploration and depiction of violence, also revealed his admiration for similar feats of visual craftsmanship in joining those parallels at the seam. It’s something which the director holds in the highest esteem and guides much of his choosing.

It means in Tarantino’s 12 favourite films, he picks the likes of the great Francis Ford Coppola, the man who inspired much of Tarantino’s work, Brian de Palma, an equally imposing figure in Tarantino’s world and of course, the bastion of cinematic subtlety, Martin Scorsese. The list, however frivolous it may be, and they usually are, is a pretty fair assumption of Tarantino’s work.

Veering away from any piece of cinema too pretentious, intellectualised or overtly stuffy, Tarantino has always prided himself on creating films for the audience before anybody else. He even once said: “When People Ask Me Whether I Went To Film School I Answer No, I Went To Films!” It’s a perfect testament to his accessible but captivating style.

It just so happens that Tarantino’s style is engrained in audience reward. The inclusion of ‘New Hollywood’ films such as Apocalypse Now and Taxi Driver should come as little surprise then—but he did also reserve some room for blockbuster Jaws, from Spielberg.

Despite previously stating that Kinji Fukasaku’s super violent film Battle Royale was his favourite film released since he became a director in 1992, Tarantino has chosen not to include it in the list he compiled for the Sight & Sound poll a few years ago, instead, voting for a range of titles but all with one common theme— big payoffs.

Tarantino’s knowledge and fandom for cinema know no bounds, his directional style has been heavily influenced by the feature films that have dominated his youth. When discussing Tarantino’s love for cinema, actor Danny Strong once described Tarantino as “such a movie buff,” before explaining that “he had so much knowledge of films that he would try to get people to watch really cool movies.”

When learning about cinema, Tarantino once said: “[My] head is a sponge. I listen to what everyone says, I watch little idiosyncratic behaviour, people tell me a joke and I remember it. People tell me an interesting story in their life and I remember it,” in reference to the small details he likes to focus on when creating a new picture.

“When I go and write my new characters, my pen is like an antenna, it gets that information, and all of a sudden these characters come out more or less fully formed. I don’t write their dialogue, I get them talking to each other.”

Tarantino thinks in this way, so intrinsically connected with his audience, because frankly, he spent so much time as that audience. Paying a few bucks to eat popcorn and watch a movie was one of his greatest joys and it’s one he wants to share.

Check out the 12 films that Quentin Tarantino calls the greatest, below.

Quentin Tarantino’s 12 greatest films of all time:

  • Apocalypse NowFrancis Ford Coppola, 1979.
  • The Bad News Bears – Michael Ritchie, 1976.
  • Carrie – Brian de Palma, 1976.
  • Dazed and Confused – Richard Linklater, 1993.
  • The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly – Sergio Leone, 1966.
  • The Great Escape – John Sturges, 1963.
  • His Girl Friday – Howard Hawks, 1939.
  • Jaws – Steven Spielberg, 1975.
  • Pretty Maids All in a Row – Roger Vadim, 1971.
  • Rolling Thunder – John Flynn, 1977.
  • Sorcerer – William Friedkin, 1977.
  • Taxi Driver – Martin Scorsese, 1976.

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