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Robert Altman, John Cassavetes and more: Steve Buscemi picks his 10 favourite arthouse films of all time


One of the most unique actors in modern film, Steve Buscemi has had some of the most notorious roles in avant-garde cinematic history. From Reservoir Dogs’ Mr Pink to The Big Lebowski‘s Donny, Buscemi is one hell of a performer — making every role distinctly his own.

With a varied filmography that includes the aforementioned titles alongside Pulp Fiction, Fargo, Billy Madison and Con Air, it’s fair to say Buscemi may know his way around a good flick or two. Coupling that with the actor’s known love affair with craft of both acting and filmmaking and you’ve got a sure thing.

At a time when millions of people are forced to spend more time at home amid social distancing measures, we decided to turn to Buscemi’s fascinating eye for cinematic detail for some essential viewing. Here, we’re revisiting a 2008 list published through Criterion which details the actor’s top 10 arthouse films of all time we buckled down for a fascinating read.

First up on the list is John Schlesinger’s 1960s gem Billy Liar, a film from the golden age of British cinema and one Buscemi describes as: “One of the saddest endings to a comedy I’ve ever seen.” It’s clear from the rest of his selections that Buscemi is as dedicated a film lover as he is an actor — intelligent, purposeful and without refrain.

The Reservoir Dogs actor picked up one film he watched with the Dogs director himself, picking Man Bites Dog, he says: “I saw it at the Toronto Film Festival with Quentin Tarantino. It’s a hilariously dark, fake documentary about a serial killer and his concerned friends and family. It’s not for everybody, but it genuinely shocked me while I laughed my ass off.” It’s part of an engaging list that really shows off the actor’s love of high quality film.

He also picks Symbiopsychotaxiplasm it’s a title that “never comes through the spell check unscathed,” Buscemi continues: “I love director William Greaves’s bravery for making this outrageously fascinating experimental feature that pushes the boundaries of what’s traditionally accepted in film.” The Criterion cut is especially brilliant.

The much-beloved actor’s last film on the list is John Cassavetes A Woman Under The Influence which the actor says has influenced him ever since he first came into contact with the director. He concludes the list with a glowing endorsement, “Each film is made with a love, passion, and style unique to John, and inspiring to the rest of us.”

Below you can find the full list of Steve Buscemi’s favourite arthouse films and find the full interview via Criterion here.

Steve Buscemi picks his 10 favourite films:

  • Billy Liar – John Schlesinger
  • Brute Force – Jules Dassin
  • The Honeymoon Killers – Leonard Kastle
  • Man Bites Dog – Belvaux, Nozel, Poelvoorde
  • My Own Private Idaho – Gus Van Sant
  • Salesman – A Maysles, D Maysles, Zwern
  • Short Cuts – Robert Altman
  • Symbiopsychotaxiplasm – William Greaves
  • The Vanishing – George Sluizer
  • A Woman Under The Influence – John Cassavetes

Source: Criterion