Martin Scorsese Reveals His 12 Favorite Movies

kubrick listCin­e­ma as we’ve almost always known it — “Edi­son, the Lumière broth­ers, Méliès, Porter, all the way through Grif­fith and on to Kubrick”  — has “real­ly almost gone.” So writes Mar­tin Scors­ese in his recent essay for the New York Review of Books, “The Per­sist­ing Vision: Read­ing the Lan­guage of Cin­e­ma.” He argues that tra­di­tion­al film forms have “been over­whelmed by mov­ing images com­ing at us all the time and absolute­ly every­where, even faster than the visions com­ing at the astro­naut” in Kubrick­’s 2001: A Space Odyssey. “We have no choice but to treat all these mov­ing images com­ing at us as a lan­guage. We need to be able to under­stand what we’re see­ing and find the tools to sort it all out.” Only nat­ur­al that Scors­ese, as one of the best-known, high­est-pro­file auteurs alive, would ref­er­ence Kubrick, his gen­er­a­tional pre­de­ces­sor in the untir­ing fur­ther­ance of cin­e­mat­ic vision and craft.

We just yes­ter­day fea­tured a post about Kubrick­’s 1963 list of ten favorite films. Scors­ese, for his part, has impressed many as one of the most enthu­si­as­ti­cal­ly cinephilic direc­tors work­ing in Amer­i­ca today: his essays about and appear­ances on the DVDs of his favorite movies stand as evi­dence for the sur­pris­ing breadth of his appre­ci­a­tion. Today, why not have a look at Scors­ese’s list, which he put togeth­er for Sight and Sound mag­a­zine, and which begins with the Kubrick selec­tion you might expect:

In “The Per­sist­ing Vision,” he cham­pi­ons com­pre­hen­sive film preser­va­tion, cit­ing the case of Hitch­cock­’s Ver­ti­go, the final entry on his list, now named the great­est film of all time by Sight and Sound’s crit­ics poll. “When the film came out some peo­ple liked it, some didn’t, and then it just went away.” When, after decades of obscu­ri­ty, Ver­ti­go came back into cir­cu­la­tion,  the col­or was com­plete­ly wrong,” and “the ele­ments — the orig­i­nal pic­ture and sound neg­a­tives — need­ed seri­ous atten­tion.” A restora­tion of the “decay­ing and severe­ly dam­aged” film even­tu­al­ly hap­pened, and “more and more peo­ple saw Ver­ti­go and came to appre­ci­ate its hyp­not­ic beau­ty and very strange, obses­sive focus.” I, per­son­al­ly, could­n’t imag­ine the world of cin­e­ma with­out it — nor with­out any of the oth­er pic­tures Scors­ese calls his favorites.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Mar­tin Scors­ese Makes a List of 85 Films Every Aspir­ing Film­mak­er Needs to See

Mar­tin Scors­ese Cre­ates a List of 39 Essen­tial For­eign Films for a Young Film­mak­er

Revis­it Mar­tin Scorsese’s Hand-Drawn Sto­ry­boards for Taxi Dri­ver

Mar­tin Scorsese’s Very First Films: Three Imag­i­na­tive Short Works

Mar­tin Scors­ese Brings “Lost” Hitch­cock Film to Screen in Short Faux Doc­u­men­tary

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.

by | Permalink | Comments (21) |

Sup­port Open Cul­ture

We’re hop­ing to rely on our loy­al read­ers rather than errat­ic ads. To sup­port Open Cul­ture’s edu­ca­tion­al mis­sion, please con­sid­er mak­ing a dona­tion. We accept Pay­Pal, Ven­mo (@openculture), Patre­on and Cryp­to! Please find all options here. We thank you!

Comments (21)
You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.
  • Fred says:

    nice to see the John Wayne movie on his list.

  • Tango-Hannes says:

    Now I’ll be damned but this “list of 10 favorite movies” real­ly looks like a “list of 12 favorite movies”.

  • Nacho says:

    It’s a bit dis­ap­point­ing that his last select­ed movie is dat­ed in 1968. So film lan­guage and the fact of mak­ing top bril­liant movies has stopped in 1968, 45 years ago…

  • Richard Block says:

    Amaz­ing list. Noth­ing mod­ern. No Bergman. Seems very arbi­trary list for such an intel­lect. No com­e­dy. Hap­py guy!

  • David Campos says:

    12, right?

  • Magdalena Lenczowska says:

    “Ash­es and Dia­monds” are legal­ly avail­able at Youtube , among 30 oth­er sig­nif­i­cant Pol­ish movies at the chanel of its pro­duc­er Stu­dio Fil­mowe KADR. Some of the movies already have Eng­lish subs, Ash­es are unluck­i­ly only in Pol­ish, but the chan­nel is quite new, so I hope that an Eng­lish ver­sion is a ques­tion of a near future!

  • Bunny Lavander says:

    noth­ing beyond 1970. this is sad .

  • unknown1 says:

    Lives of Oth­ers, God­fa­ther 2, Man on the Fly­ing Trapeze. Thin Red Line, tra­sure of Sier­ra Madre.n

  • bobby bartram says:

    sine the ear­ly 80s film­mak­ing in Hol­ly­wood has gone down the toi­let that’s a fact!!I would say 65 per­cent of what hol­ly wood puts out now is flat out garbage movies!!

  • Otavio Magnani says:

    Looks like mr. Scors­ese and I have some­what dif­fer­ent tastes. I’m very glad to see The Riv­er includ­ed, how­ev­er. Jean Renoir was a true mas­ter — “the great­est of all direc­tors”, in the words of no one oth­er than Orson Welles — and he was one of the few direc­tors who could use col­or to achieve tru­ly beau­ti­ful aes­thet­ic effects, which is no acci­dent, since his father was one of the great­est mod­ern painters.

    The most recent movie in the list dates back to 1968. I think he should have added more recent ones. Some good can­di­dates, in my opin­ion, would be Kuro­sawa’s Ran and some­thing by Bela Tarr. And maybe Aguirre. I also find it dis­ap­point­ing that there are no movies by Tarkovsky and Bres­son, as well as no silent movies, but then again, our tastes seem to be some­what dif­fer­ent.

  • james says:

    Great col­lec­tion of movies !

  • Chris says:

    i agree that these are great films. I have to include thoughts of some that I have enjoyed watch­ing sev­er­al times for a vari­ety of rea­sons. Far­go, God­fa­ther 2, The Shaw­shank Tedemp­tion and The Depart­ed.

  • >Yılmaz says:

    that’s what i thought.

  • James Shaw says:

    Good to the The Searchers in there. Ter­rif­ic movie.

  • Anna says:

    The youtube shows this video is pri­vate.


    Great list, by my favourite direc­tor, here is mine :)

    alpha­bet­i­cal order-

    Apoc­a­lypse Now (Copol­la, 1979)
    Bicy­cle Thief, The (Di Sica, 1948)
    Breath­less (Godard, 1960)
    Chi­na­town (1974, Polan­s­ki)
    Deka­log (Kielows­ki, 1989)
    Dr. Strangelove (Kubrick, 1964)
    Net­work (Lumit, 1976)
    Peep­ing Tom (Pow­ell, 1960)
    Gangs Of Wassey­pur (Kashyap, 2012)
    Godfather,The (Copol­la, 1972)
    Taxi Dri­ver (Scors­ese, 1976)
    Wild Straw­ber­ries (Bergman, 1957)

  • Aaron Abernethy says:

    With regards to there being noth­ing lat­er than 1968 — in A Per­son­al Jour­ney with Mar­tin Scors­ese through Amer­i­can Movies, a doc­u­men­tary he made with the BFI, Scors­ese said that that was when he start­ed mak­ing movies, and that he was­n’t as able to cri­tique that work. He does­n’t real­ly give a rea­son, oth­er than when he offers this list he’s real­ly telling us the movies that made him want to be a film­mak­er — by 1970 he was one.

  • Francesco says:

    Gosh, your replies are so stu­pid.

  • Vadapinson says:

    The Searchers is to Amer­i­can cin­e­ma what Huck­le­ber­ry Finn is to Amer­i­can lit­er­a­ture.

  • marquiz says:

    you are stu­pid.

  • Jane Doe says:

    What’s with the peo­ple say­ing the replies and/or com­menters are “stu­pid?” There are some inter­est­ing, sub­stan­tive respons­es.

Leave a Reply

Open Culture was founded by Dan Colman.