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


Cre­ative Com­mons image via Wiki­me­dia Com­mons

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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Comments (31)
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  • Tex Antoine says:

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

  • Philippe Jolival says:

    Does he know Orson Welles ?

  • Vincent says:

    Rolling Thun­der is from 1977, not 1997..

  • Sam says:

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

  • David king says:

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

  • CBS says:

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

  • Frank Darabont says:

    What about Twister?

  • Johan says:

    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.

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

  • John says:

    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.

  • 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.

    • Bing says:

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

      • 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.

    • Sasha Kozak says:

      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.

  • Ray Authur Franks says:

    Rolling Thun­der (John Fly­nn, 1977)

  • marcoselmalo says:

    BNB? Wal­ter Matthau paired with Tatum Oneil? Fegged­aboutit!

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

  • Jeremy Gilbert says:

    Put at least Clock­work Orange on this list.

  • Richard Sutton says:

    I don’t know if it has been said but Rolling Thun­der is from 1977 not 1997

  • Gilbert Guston says:

    “One real­ly must see it to appre­ci­ate it.” Not to be a fatu­ous dick, but how is this dif­fer­ent than absolute­ly every movie on this list?

  • HeppCat says:

    Taran­ti­no has con­sis­tent­ly placed “Blow Out” (De Pal­ma) and “Rio Bra­vo” (Hawks) in his top 5. Both absent from your list.


  • melee says:

    Very sur­prised by his lack of Asian films on this list.

  • R Russell Last says:

    Curi­ous that he pre­ferred Fried­kin’s Sor­cer­er, a re-make of Clouzot’s “Wages of Fear,” to the orig­i­nal. Per­haps he respects Fried­ken’s almost pure­ly visu­al approach to the sto­ry: there are long stretch­es where the sto­ry is told w/ visu­als, edit­ing, sound effects and… no dia­logue. It’s real­ly quite mes­mer­iz­ing and often over­looked. Clouzot may have been a vic­tim of the short­ness of this list.

  • wilBaum says:

    and Felli­ni, Anto­nioni, Tarkovs­ki, Bres­son, Cro­nen­berg…

  • Voluntarysit Dude says:

    Taran­ti­no’s favorite movie of the past 20 years is “Bat­tle Royale,” a Japan­ese film which he loves so much that he wish­es that he’d made it.

  • David in Atlanta says:

    Inter­est­ing that he did­n’t men­tion Lady Snow­blood or Bande à part

  • consonetti thierry says:

    good movie

  • Kevin says:

    Taran­ti­no is a lousy film­mak­er with lousy taste. The few titles on here that aren’t C‑plus qual­i­ty stuff are what you’d expect to find as the favorite films of a review­er in ‘TV Guide.’ Taran­ti­no is a vicious and repel­lant twelve year old who grooves on burn­ing insects with a mag­ni­fy­ing glass. And his vio­lent pablum films are dull to look at, too.

  • Dave says:

    Tar­enti­no is the best film­mak­er cur­rent­ly going in my opin­ion. I love all his movies and there are just so much fun!

  • Nick L. says:

    It is all about Blow Out! While his love for Casul­ties is much pub­li­cized it is Blow out that makes Depal­ma his favorite direc­tor. Car­l­i­tos Way is not the same with­out view­ing Blow Out. It is Love sto­ry the Depal­ma way. Think Tra­vol­ta and its Urban Fever with Fic­tion resur­gence yet this his mag­nus opus remains shame­ful­ly over­looked. Blow Out a mas­ter crafts­men at his apex gift­ing us the last great film of an era. Only until the man we speak of here today changes cin­e­ma a decade lat­er.

  • Alicia Barboza says:

    Q.T. is by far one of the most, if not the most enter­tain­ing film mak­ers of all time. He always hints a bril­liant sense of humor that goes along with the vio­lence. His choice of actors for every movie is on point. And he makes you believe that you are in an era from the past with his cin­e­matog­ra­phy with every sin­gle film to date. He makes you feel like you are a kid again back in the 70/80’s! I per­son­al­ly love his work! And I know that I am not alone!

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