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From Martin Scorsese to Steven Spielberg: Quentin Tarantino’s 11 favourite films of all time


“When people ask me if I went to film school I tell them, ‘no, I went to films.'”— Quentin Tarantino.

Quentin Tarantino is a modern-day auteur, a directer held in such high regard that many consider him one of the greatest filmmakers of all time — even if he has only directed nine full features. With talk of retirement is a never-ending one, fans of Tarantino wait patiently to discover if, despite his brilliant love for filmmaking, the director will stay true to his word and walk away at the top of the pile following the release of his still unknown tenth movie. 

It’s widely known that Tarantino is a cinephile of quite obsessive levels. Having worked in a rental store in his youth, Tarantino developed an infatuation with the world of cinema that only Martin Scorsese could rival. In fact, it’s a love that has even seen the Pulp Fiction director hold a longstanding grudge with his own mother after she urged him to focus on a ‘more serious’ career path. While remaining relentlessly focused on his ambition to live and breathe the film universe, Tarantino has carried this mentality throughout his life and career: “When I’m doing a movie, I’m not doing anything else,” he once explained. “It’s all about the movie. I don’t have a wife. I don’t have a kid. Nothing can get in my way… I’ve made a choice, so far, to go on this road alone. Because this is my time. This is my time to make movies.”

Coming off the back of yet another critically acclaimed response to his latest film, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, a project which has been described by many as Tarantino’s great homage to the finest examples of cinema, here we get a glimpse at the movies that shared his vision. The film, which includes references to iconic Italian filmmaking, western pictures, Bruce Lee and the ever-churning clogs of old and contemporary Hollywood, further exhibits Tarantino’s love for cinema.

“In the ’50s, audiences accepted a level of artifice that the audiences in 1966 would chuckle at,” Tarantino once said when discussing the changing landscape of cinema. “And the audiences of 1978 would chuckle at what the audience of 1966 said was okay, too. The trick is to try to be way ahead of that curve, so they’re not chuckling at your movies 20 years down the line.”

“When I make a film, I am hoping to reinvent the genre a little bit,” Tarantino once added. “I just do it my way. I make my own little Quentin versions of them…I consider myself a student of cinema. It’s almost like I am going for my professorship in cinema, and the day I die is the day I graduate. It is a lifelong study.”

It comes as little surprise that Tarantino has studied the significant moments of cinematic history with an unrelenting thirst to quench his artistic desire. So, when the filmmaker was asked to pick 11 films that he considered to be the greatest of all time, he, of course, struggled to define them with precision.

One unsurprising factor, however, is that Tarantino selected Sergio Leone’s film The Good, the Bad and the Ugly at the top of his list: “When it comes to the filmmakers of the 1960s that mean the most to filmmakers of the 1990s and 2000s, I believe that Leone is pointing the way towards modern filmmaking,” the director once said. “You don’t go past Leone, you start with Leone.”

Detailing his admiration for Leone further, Tarantino added: “I would go even as far as to say that [Leone] is the greatest combination of a complete film stylist, where he creates his own world, and storyteller.”

Adding: “Those two are almost never married. To be as great a stylist as he is and create this operatic world, and to do this inside a genre, and to pay attention to the rules of the genre, while breaking the rules all the time — he is delivering you a wonderful western.”

Elsewhere Tarantino includes classics such as Taxi Driver, Jaws and Pandora’s Box while, on the flip side, included some surprise entries like Jeong Chang-Hwa film Five Fingers of Death.

See the list, below.

Quentin Tarantino’s 11 favourite films:

  1. The Good, the Bad and the Ugly – Sergio Leone, 1966.
  2. Rio Bravo – Howard Hawks, 1959.
  3. Blow Out – Brian De Palma, 1981.
  4. Taxi Driver – Martin Scorsese, 1976.
  5. His Girl Friday – Howard Hawks, 1940.
  6. Five Fingers of Death – Jeong Chang-Hwa, 1972.
  7. Pandora’s Box – G. W. Pabst, 1929.
  8. Carrie – Brian De Palma, 1976.
  9. Unfaithfully Yours – Preston Sturges, 1948.
  10. Five Graves to Cairo – Billy Wilder, 1943.
  11. Jaws – Steven Spielberg, 1975.
(Credit: @LoSceicco1976)

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