Top Ten Movies of All-Time from Scorsese, Tarantino, Coppola, Allen, Del Toro and More

Last week, the recent Sight & Sound list of the top 50 movies of all-time (find it here) was released. The poll is conducted every ten years and this year's edition was made by polling 846 critics, programmers, academics and distributors.

In addition to that list, however, Sight & Sound polled 358 film directors, which included Martin Scorsese, Quentin Tarantino, Francis Ford Coppola, Woody Allen and Mike Leigh. Tallying the results the directors' top ten looked like this:

  1. Tokyo Story (dir. Yasujiro Ozu)
  2. 2001: A Space Odyssey (dir. Stanley Kubrick)
  3. Citizen Kane (dir. Orson Welles)
  4. 8 1/2 (dir. Federico Fellini)
  5. Taxi Driver (dir. Martin Scorsese)
  6. Apocalypse Now (dir. Francis Ford Coppola)
  7. The Godfather (dir. Francis Ford Coppola)
  8. Vertigo (dir. AAlfred Hitchcock)
  9. Mirror (dir. Andrei Tarkovsky)
  10. Bicycle Thieves (dir. Vittoria De Sica)

The problem, for me at least, is that doesn't really tell us much. Just like the Sight & Sound list we're looking at something that simply lists several classic films we've seen referenced time and again. Happily, The Playlist has helped make things more interesting by presenting the individual lists for several of the directors included.

These top tens come from the likes of Martin Scorsese, Quentin Tarantino, Woody Allen, Francis Ford Coppola, Richard Ayoade, Bong Joon-Ho, Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne, Guillermo Del Toro, Sean Durkin, Asghar Farhadi, Michel Hazavanicius, Miranda July, Mike Leigh, Michael Mann, Steve McQueen, Jeff Nichols, David O. Russell, Bela Tarr, Edgar Wright and Apichatpong Weerasethakul.

Why do I see these as more interesting? Well, I imagine the films a director believes to be the "greatest of all-time" will most likely be the films that also influenced his/her career and made them want to become a filmmaker. It gives more specifics for those of us that may want to explore the work of Scorsese, Mann or Allen a little closer.

NOTE: This article has been edited to include only five of the top tens at the request of Sight and Sound.

Woody Allen

  1. Bicycle Thieves (1948, dir. Vittorio De Sica)
  2. The Seventh Seal (1957, dir. Ingmar Bergman)
  3. Citizen Kane (1941, dir. Orson Welles)
  4. Amarcord (1973, dir. Federico Fellini)
  5. 8 1/2 (1963, dir. Federico Fellini)
  6. The 400 Blows (1959, dir. Francois Truffaut)
  7. Rashomon (1950, dir. Akira Kurosawa)
  8. La Grande Illusion (1937, dir. Jean Renoir)
  9. The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie (1972, dir. Luis Bunuel)
  10. Paths of Glory (1957, dir. Stanley Kubrick)

Francis Ford Coppola

  1. Ashes and Diamonds (1958, dir. Andrzej Wajda)
  2. The Best Years of Our Lives (1946, dir William Wyler)
  3. I Vitteloni (1953, dir. Federico Fellini)
  4. The Bad Sleep Well (1960, dir. Akira Kurosawa)
  5. Yojimbo (1961, dir. Akira Kurosawa)
  6. Singin' in the Rain (1952, dir. Stanley Donen and Gene Kelly)
  7. The King of Comedy (1983, dir Martin Scorsese)
  8. Raging Bull (1980, dir. Martin Scorsese)
  9. The Apartment (1960s, dir. Billy Wilder)
  10. Sunrise (1927, dir. F.W. Murnau)

Guillermo Del Toro

  1. Frankenstein (1931, dir. James Whale)
  2. Freaks (1932, dir. Todd Browning)
  3. Shadow of a Doubt (1943, dir. Alfred Hitchcock)
  4. Greed (1925, dir. Erich Von Stroheim)
  5. Modern Times (1936, dir. Charlie Chaplin)
  6. La Belle Et La Bete (1946, dir. Jean Cocteau)
  7. Goodfellas (1990, dir. Martin Scorsese)
  8. Los Olvidados (1950, dir. Luis Bunuel)
  9. Nosferatu (1922, dir. F.W. Murnau)
  10. 8 1/2 (1963, dir. Federico Fellini)

Martin Scorsese

  1. 8 1/2 (1963, dir. Federico Fellini)
  2. 2001: a Space Odyssey (1968, dir. Stanley Kubrick)
  3. Ashes and Diamonds (1958, dir. Andrzej Wajda)
  4. Citizen Kane (1941, dir. Orson Welles)
  5. The Leopard (1963, dir. Luchino Visconti)
  6. Palsa (1946, dir. Roberto Rossellini)
  7. The Red Shoes (1948, dir. Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger)
  8. The River (1951, dir. Jean Renoir)
  9. Salvatore Giuliano (1962, dir. Francesco Rosi)
  10. The Searchers (1956, dir. John Ford)
  11. Ugetsu Monogatari (1953, dir. Kenji Mizoguchi)
  12. Vertigo (1958, dir. Alfred Hitchcock)

Quentin Tarantino

  1. The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966, dir. Sergio Leone)
  2. Apocalypse Now (1979, dir. Francis Ford Coppola)
  3. The Bad News Bears (1976, dir. Michael Ritchie)
  4. Carrie (1976, dir. Brian DePalma)
  5. Dazed and Confused (1993, dir. Richard Linklater)
  6. The Great Escape (1963, dir. John Sturges)
  7. His Girl Friday (1940, dir. Howard Hawks)
  8. Jaws (1975, dir. Steven Spielberg)
  9. Pretty Maids All in a Row (1971, dir. Roger Vadim)
  10. Rolling Thunder (1977, dir. John Flynn)
  11. Sorcerer (1977, dir. William Friedkin)
  12. Taxi Driver (1976, dir. Martin Scorsese)
  • Chris138

    Empire? Wow, I'm amazed someone has even sat through that.

  • AS

    I was surprised to see Paths of Glory on Woody Allen's list. That doesn't seem like a film that would have resonated with him.

    • Criterion10

      Yeah, I feel like if he was to choose a Woody Allen film he probably would've chosen something like 2001, which I know he praised before in an interview.

      • Criterion10

        Whoops, meant to say, "If he was to choose a Stanley Kubrick film"...NOT Woody Allen

  • Scott

    I have to admit, I would honestly love to see the list for Michael Bay. I'm not kidding. Would there be the seemingly obligatory obscure foreign movie from the 1930's in there? Would half the list be of Michael Bay movies? The mind boggles.

    • Evengan

      Michael Bay...?

    • Heath Cowart

      I know one of his picks would be West Side Story since he sights that as one of his inspirations when putting together scenes. Yeah, I know - freaking West Side Story!

  • Alex C.

    Very glad to see 'Modern Times' and 'The Wages of Fear' on a few of those top ten lists. Maybe in ten years, those movies will be in the top ten.

  • dre

    Really interesting list. It's fun seeing which directors most closely resemble your tastes. Not sure which list does for me. So many are close in pieces.

  • Criterion10

    Someone actually leaked this list onto the Criterion facebook page a few days ago, so I got a sneak peek at it. (For anyone interested, we actually had a poll over on that page a few days ago, in honor of the recent Sight and Sound poll, collecting our 50 greatest films of all time. Those in charge of the results posted them on a blog and the website "They Shoot Pictures, Don't They?" mentioned it on their homepage.)

    Brad, I completely agree that this is much more interesting than the overall top 10. For me, this is all that really matters, reading about my favorite directors and seeing what their favorite films are.

    I know this was mentioned on the podcast, but I also still don't understand all the hype over Tokyo Story. It's the only Ozu film I've seen, so it's not fair for me to judge him as a director, but I found the film well made, though rather tedious. I feel that a great film should not just be well made with deeper themes and contexts. It should also be entertaining. Tokyo Story was only the former. Take for instance some of the greats, like Kubrick, Lynch, Bergman, etc. They all knew how to entertain and challenge their audiences.

    Very interesting to see that Apichatpong Weerasethakul chose "A Brighter Summer Day". I was at a rare screening of the film months ago where he introduced the film and called it the director's best. Great film, BTW. *Fingers crossed Criterion releases it*

  • Nina

    avatar? for real?

  • G-Man

    Neat lists. Reminds me of how many titles I need to still see. The directors whose tastes I'd say coincide the most with mine are Sean Durkin and David O. Russell.

  • dre

    I'm guessing Jeff Nichols' favorite actor of all time is Paul Newman. Just a hunch.

  • Fan

    Wow Bong Joon-Ho has Zodiac on his list, one of Fincher's best in my opinion, and it's also one of my favorite Fincher film. Probably number two if I had a list of the films I like from Fincher films.

    Anyways, very interest to see most of theses director has Scorsese in their list. Who I think is still the reigning king of cinema. Yes, and I agree with what you guys say it's far more interesting than the overall top 10 from last week.

    • Jordan B.

      Zodiac is, in my opinion, Fincher's best and is one of my favorite films if I were to put together a list. Glad to see that others have an appreciation for it as well.

      • Fan

        Yes, Zodiac is a great film from Fincher, even though the film is 2hrs. and 30mins., which I didn't mind, there wasn't a dull moment. The film is very engaging and with great performances from Jake Gyllenhaal and Mark Ruffalo too. I read the book by Robert Graysmith which has more in-depth details, but the film hits the major points and theory of the of the book. A very interesting read. Fantastic film from Fincher.

  • MKing

    After all that praise Tarantino gave Battle Royale, you would've thought he would've put it on his list. He even said it was his favorite film of the past ten years.

    • Fan

      He also said that about There Will Be Blood too, but it's not on his list, and I didn't see Blow Out which use to be on his list.

  • Drew

    The highlight of this for me was discovering that Quentin Tarantino ranked 'The Bad News Bears' as his #3.

  • Scott

    Here's my list. Glad to see some overlap between some of those esteemed directors!

    1. Stalag 17 (Billy Wilder, 1953)
    2. Apocalypse Now (Francis Ford Coppola, 1979)
    3. Darker and Brighter (Kenji Mitusaga, 1964)
    4. Citizen Kane (Orson Welles, 1941)
    5. Der Schwarze Teich ("The Black Pond"), Hans Weits, 1958
    6. Unbearable Shame (Antoine Moisso, 1943)
    7. Svetlana in Death (Vladimir Kafelnikov, 1970)
    8. Judge in the Court of Dogs (Soren Christensen, 1961)
    9. Groaning in Anticipation (Russell Henry Green, 1954)
    10. Now We Lay Down and Die (Antonio De La Vigo, 1972)

  • Brian

    Interesting post. I feel like Del Toro's is easiest to how/why those films influenced him after seeing his work.

  • Reindeer

    Funny how the Dardenne brothers have only 1 list together. Like both their opinions and tastes are exactly the same...

  • J. Allder

    Well at least SOMEBODY mentioned Carol Reed's The Third Man. I thought I was about to have a conniption fit.

  • John W

    Did a little tabulating on some of the directors to see how often they'd be mentioned:

    Martin Scorcese - 12 times
    Alfred Hitchcock - 9 times
    Stanley Kubrick - 8 times
    Francis Ford Coppola - 5 times
    Orson Welles - 5 times
    Akira Kurosawa - 4 times

  • Badge

    I would've expected PEEPING TOM to be on Scorsese's list, given all his work "resuscitating" it, but at least there's another Powell/Pressburger title in there. And kudos to the guy who put THE GOONIES in there - now that's an honest list. Some films have much more impact and influence on us when we see them as children than those we view as adults.

  • Desiree

    Wow! This is a great list. Please recommend all movies on I would love to see those recommendations on the website.