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

woody allen clarinet

Image by Colin Swan, via Wikimedia Commons

We’ve looked this week at the favorite movies selected by such respected filmmakers as Stanley Kubrick and Martin Scorsese. Today we round out this trio of eminent directors with the greatest films of all time according to Woody Allen, voting in the almighty Sight and Sound poll. The director of Annie Hall, Crimes and Misdemeanors, and Midnight in Paris selected, in no particular order, the following:

  • The 400 Blows (François Truffaut, 1959)
  • (Federico Fellini, 1963)
  • Amarcord (Federico Fellini, 1972)
  • The Bicycle Thieves (Vittorio de Sica, 1948)
  • Citizen Kane (Orson Welles, 1941)
  • The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie (Luis Buñuel, 1972)
  • Grand Illusion (Jean Renoir, 1937)
  • Paths of Glory (Stanley Kubrick, 1957)
  • Rashomon (Akira Kurosawa, 1950)
  • The Seventh Seal (Ingmar Bergman, 1957)

It comes as no shock that Ingmar Bergman makes the list, given Allen’s well-documented and openly admitted enthusiasm for (and, in cases like Interiors, direct imitation of) the man who made The Seventh Seal. If that vote represents Allen’s contemplative, morally serious side, then the vote for Luis Buñuel’s enduringly funny surrealist farce The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie represents his well-known predilection for humor, often class-based, which occasionally melts into silliness.

Like Scorsese, Allen includes Kubrick, though for his early Paths of Glory rather than the more widely-seen 2001. Like both Scorsese and Kubrick, he picks a Fellini — two, in fact — and all three of their lists illustrate that it would take a contrarian filmgoer indeed to deny Orson Welles’ Citizen Kane a vote. Kubrick, you’ll recall, also had great praise for Vittorio de Sica and François Truffaut, and their early pictures show up among Allen’s selections. Take Kubrick, Scorsese, and Allen’s lists together, and you have a few principles to guide your viewing: concentrate on the midcentury masters. Citizen Kane really does merit all those accolades. And above all, make sure you watch your Fellini. But which films did Fellini love?

Related Content:

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)

How Woody Allen Discovered Ingmar Bergman, and How You Can Too

Woody Allen Answers 12 Unconventional Questions He Has Never Been Asked Before

Meetin’ WA: Jean-Luc Godard Meets Woody Allen

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 (27)
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  • Brian Denton says:

    This list mirrors my own with the only exception being that I would add a healthy dollop of Mr. Allen’s own productions.

    8 1/2 is my favorite Fellini film. Orchestra Rehearsal is definitely his most underrated. Satyricon is unwatchable.

  • Tim Knights says:

    How about a top ten from a female director? x

  • beek says:

    What a boring list, and certainly too obvious for such an erudite director.

    These are all great films of course, but really? Two Fellini films? Nothing from the last 30 years nor the first 30 of the 20th century?

  • Hooper says:

    Annie Hall, Crimes and Misdemeanors, and Midnight in Paris??? What about his masterpiece, Manhattan?

  • Lynn says:

    The fourth movie on the list is “The Bicycle Thief”, not “The Bicycle Thieves”!

  • nash mascaro says:

    Every time I see a photo of good old Woody I remember the scene in the film when he’s acting the lothario as he takes the record out of the sleeve and it flies across the room..classic classic stuff.

  • val says:

    No Tarkovski? what a list of ignorance.

  • Krishna Pachegonker says:

    Undoubtedly the listing of all-time best films is in the order of their class is appropriate but it is dismaying that no film from India is founf place in this list. Urguably the world’s finest filmaker Gurudutt whose Pyaasa is appreciated even by Time mag is not mentioned here! Shyam Benegal whose films are world class for their delineation of indian life are missing!

  • Ludmilla says:

    What about Loves of a Blonde by Milos Forman, and what about Paradjanov’s Shadow of Forgotten Ancestors?

  • Alex Levy says:

    Citizen Kane may be the most overrated film of all time. I found it completely boring. I would replace it with Eisenstein’s Potemkin. Much of what is admired in Kane is foreshadowed in Potemkin. And it is The Bicycle Thief, not Thieves.

  • claude says:

    always funny. all these lists on the internet followed by all the complaints about what’s missing. this isn’t god’s list of best films. just a fellow human’s opinion. if criticizing woody allen’s subjectivity makes you feel better about your own…well…cool i guess

  • Andre says:

    @Alex: De Sica’s film has been distributed in the US under both titles: The Bicycle Thief and Bicycle Thieves. The DCP version that’s in current distribution uses the latter title.

  • Coupe says:

    Interesting in that he is looking at unexposed film. Well, I mean, it’s exposed now…

  • SFPaul says:

    To Lynn…
    It’s The Bicycle Thief for those that don’t speak Italian. The Italian title is most certainly The Bicycle Thieves. Ladri di Biciclette.

  • Evan says:

    Apparently no great films were made after 1972…

  • vincenzo says:

    To SFPaul:
    if you translate literally the italian title “Ladri di Biciclette” in english, it would sound “Bicycle Thieves” without “The”.
    “The Bicycle Thieves” is translated in italian as: “I Ladri di Biciclette”.

  • Matt says:

    Yeah, there aren’t many great movies in the last 30 years… There Will Be Blood, American Beauty, Full Metal Jacket.

  • Billy says:

    beek, believe it or not, but there were many great films made before the modern era too! About 70 years of it in fact! Yes, cinema didn’t start with the 1980’s :) And, believe it or not, they were pretty good too! And something tells me you’ve never watched many black and whites or even Fellini on your own accord, or at least not Amarcord…

  • Yayai says:

    People complaining about Allen selecting older movies is kind of funny. Those are the movies that inspired him, the movies that made him be the director he is. It is only natural that he names movies released during his youth! Besides, although some modern titles are really solid, the classics he lists are truly hard to beat. And com’on, There will be blood? American Beauty? Let’s see where those movies are in 50 years from now!

  • The Great says:

    Woody Allen is a real fine filmmaker who makes real fine films whenever he can.

  • The Great says:

    Not true

  • Jen Pack says:

    Woody Allen’s “Annie Hall” would definitely be on my list of favorite movies, so I trust his taste. I loved “The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie” and “The Seventh Seal.” However, I was a little underwhelmed by “The 400 Blows,” probably because it has been parodied so much. The same goes for “The Seventh Seal,” but I prefer Bergman to Truffaut.

  • Trey says:

    ‘the vote for Luis Buñuel’s enduringly funny surrealist farce The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie represents his well-known predilection for humour’ …and the vote for the 400 Blows at #1 shows his predilection for 13 year old boys!

  • Cathy Searfinowicz says:

    What about “Some Like It Hot” ?

  • Lawrence Cerf says:

    I say La Dolce Vita.

  • Steve Reilly says:

    Definitely not one of his favorites: https://youtu.be/hpniYxRjX3o?t=103

  • Jeff says:

    The original title in Italian is “Bicycle Thieves”, not “Bicycle Thief” as it was known forever.

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