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Any list of the most respected American filmmakers of the past half-century would have to include Stanley Kubrick, Woody Allen, and Martin Scorsese. The latter two have kept creating, and prolifically, but that doesn't delay those heated debates about who will most proudly carry the auteur's tradition into the next few decades. Much smart money bets on Quentin Tarantino, who, at age 50, has already racked up over twenty years (and if you count My Best Friend's Birthday, over 25) of demonstrating his distinctive cinematic sensibility.
That sensibility has made him a director of renown, but it comes in large part from his equally formidable stature as a film fan: his beginnings as a highly curatorial video-store clerk, his ownership of the revival theater the New Beverly Cinema (which I myself frequent), his cinephile's-dream home theater and large collection of prints. Having featured top-movie lists from Kubrick, Allen, and Scorsese, let's take a look at one from Tarantino:
- Apocalypse Now (Francis 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, 1997)
- Sorcerer (William Friedkin, 1977)
- Taxi Driver (Martin Scorsese, 1976)
The director of Pulp Fiction, Jackie Brown, and Django Unchained voted for these pictures in Sight & Sound's 2012 poll. Not only does this high-profile auteur select several other high-profile auteurs, he favors ones who show a similar enthusiasm for genre: de Palma, Leone, Hawks, Spielberg, Friedkin. Other selections, like Apocalypse Now and Taxi Driver, come from filmmakers associated with the "New Hollywood" movement of the seventies, the last major burst of creative filmmaking in the American mainstream before — you guessed it — the "Indiewood" boom of the late eighties and nineties which launched the career of not only Tarantino himself but also Richard Linklater, whose breakout Slacker you can watch online. You can also catch, free on the internet, one of the classic Hollywood productions Tarantino includes: His Girl Friday. As for the seemingly inexplicable presence of the 1976 kids' sports comedy The Bad News Bears, I haven't found it free online yet, but everybody tells me you really do need to see it to truly appreciate it.
Colin Marshall hosts and produces Notebook on Cities and Culture and writes essays on literature, film, cities, Asia, and aesthetics. He’s at work on a book about Los Angeles, A Los Angeles Primer. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall.