Quentin Tarantino Lists the 12 Greatest Films of All Time: From Taxi Driver to The Bad News Bears

Tarantino

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.

Related Content:

Quentin Tarantino Lists His Favorite Films Since 1992

Woody Allen Lists the Greatest Films of All Time: Includes Classics by Bergman, Truffaut & Fellini

Martin Scorsese Reveals His 12 Favorite Movies (and Writes a New Essay on Film Preservation)

Stanley Kubrick’s List of Top 10 Films (The First and Only List He Ever Created)

Watch His Girl Friday, Howard Hawks’ Classic Screwball Comedy Starring Cary Grant, Free Online

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 AngelesA Los Angeles Primer. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall.



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  1. Tex Antoine says . . . | August 20, 2013 / 8:56 am

    Meh. True cinephiles know The Bad News Bears in Breaking Training is by far the better film.

  2. Philippe Jolival says . . . | August 20, 2013 / 9:19 am

    Does he know Orson Welles ?

  3. Vincent says . . . | August 20, 2013 / 10:04 am

    Rolling Thunder is from 1977, not 1997..

  4. Mike says . . . | August 20, 2013 / 10:46 am
  5. Sam says . . . | August 20, 2013 / 1:30 pm

    Wow but a heart touching story thank you for sharing.Taxi

  6. David king says . . . | August 20, 2013 / 11:20 pm

    You’ve never seen Bad News Bears?! And, honestly, “kids sports comedy” ? Get a clue before you’re aloof and dismissive.

  7. CBS says . . . | August 21, 2013 / 4:57 pm

    You sound like a real douchenoodle…..The Bad News Bears is classic and awesome

  8. Frank Darabont says . . . | August 21, 2013 / 5:21 pm

    What about Twister?

  9. Johan says . . . | August 22, 2013 / 5:58 am

    His a bit inconsitent with his best films since 92-list. That list was topped by Battle Royale(by far). Yet that film is not on this list but Dazed & Confused is…hm.

  10. william hamel says . . . | August 26, 2013 / 3:04 pm

    Tarantino is big, very big, bright direct and I am his big sis admired films are on another level

  11. John says . . . | September 29, 2013 / 3:01 pm

    I havent seen all of the movies on his list, but if i had a best movie list, at least 4 of his movies would be on it. I know Carrie (1976) was awesome and i hope the new Carrie is almost or as good as the original.

  12. Kristine Maitland says . . . | October 7, 2013 / 12:21 pm

    I am not a big fan of Quentin’s films (violence is not my thing). However, I respect him as a film historian – the man knows his movies – but I think he looks at films from the perspective of visual storytelling. At any rate, anyone who can give Uma Thurman a stage direction (the Twist dance sequence), based on Zsa Zsa Gabour’s character performance in Disney’s The Aristocats, gets my vote.

  13. Ray Authur Franks says . . . | October 7, 2013 / 2:48 pm

    Rolling Thunder (John Flynn, 1977)

  14. Bing says . . . | October 7, 2013 / 11:43 pm

    Are you implying that films aren’t meant to exist as visual storytelling?

  15. Kristine Maitland says . . . | October 8, 2013 / 7:52 am

    Films are a combination of audio (or lack of audio) and visual storytelling. But that can be broken down. Audio can be soundtrack, sound editing, delivery of dialogue. The thing I have noticed about QT is that he has an appreciation of visual details, even if the film would not be considered Oscar grade. This is a guy whose introduction to Blackploitation films and the like shaped his filmmaking. He understands, as far as I can see, how you can get the effect you want without anything fancy or with a different medium entirely to draw the eye (e.g. animation in Kill Bill).nnBut you are right to call me on this, Bing. Because on reflection, his audio knowledge (see his soundtrack in Jackie Brown) should not be ignored. But again, it is all about the details.

  16. Sasha Kozak says . . . | December 2, 2013 / 12:58 pm

    Fair enough about not liking violence but for me QT has always grabbed my attention because of his dialogue and writing. The violence always feels like a backseat to the story, dialogue and characters for me.

  17. marcoselmalo says . . . | December 19, 2013 / 11:19 pm

    BNB? Walter Matthau paired with Tatum Oneil? Feggedaboutit!

    It’s a great sports movie that just happens to feature children.

  18. Jeremy Gilbert says . . . | July 28, 2014 / 1:25 am

    Put at least Clockwork Orange on this list.

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