Top 10 Best Italian Films

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The home of style, cool and without doubt some of history’s greatest films and personalities, there’s no denying Italy’s legendary cinematic credentials.

But which are the best films from Il Bel Paese? Let’s count down the top 10 Italian films of all time.


10. Il Sorpasso (1962)

dir. Vittorio Gassman

A fast, frenetic comedy following a charismatic man who impulsively takes a shy young student on a road trip through the Italian countryside, Il Sorpasso is an absolute riot.

From its gorgeous settings and cinematography to the brilliant oddball chemistry between lead actors Vittorio Gassman and Jean-Louis Trintignant, this is Italian cool at its most entertaining and most chaotic, with great laughs from start to finish.

Read a full review here.


9. La Dolce Vita (1960)

dir. Federico Fellini

The quintessential Italian film, Federico Fellini’s legendary comedy La Dolce Vita remains staggeringly iconic to this day, and it’s not hard to see why.

An elegant and chaotic view of life in Rome, the film follows a magazine gossip columnist as he navigates the upper echelons of the city’s society.

Complete with an effortlessly charismatic performance from Mr. Cool himself, Marcello Mastroianni, as well as countless number of iconic moments, insightful drama and gorgeous visuals, La Dolce Vita is an undeniable cultural phenomenon, and one of Italy’s very best films.

Read a full review here.


8. Nights Of Cabiria (1957)

dir. Federico Fellini

A truly heartbreaking tale, Nights Of Cabiria sees director Federico Fellini and frequent collaborator Giulietta Masina at the height of their powers.

The story of a prostitute who searches Rome for true love, the film is a sobering and devastating look at broken dreams, loss and betrayal, as Masina is repeatedly hurt in her quest for a real romance.

It’s a dark, neo-realist movie, but an astonishingly beautiful one too, featuring a career-best performance from Masina as well as one of cinema’s most iconic final scenes.

Read a full review here.


7. Life Is Beautiful (1997)

dir. Roberto Benigni

Known just as well by its Italian title, La vita è bella, Roberto Benigni’s triple Oscar-winning drama is a gorgeous tearjerker like few other films.

A soaring love story at first, the film is an irresistible watch thanks to Benigni’s relentless energy and optimism. As the plot begins to take a more dramatic turn, the film never loses sight of its humour and charisma, taking a dark, dark piece of history and showcasing a small glimmer of optimism in devastating yet inspiring fashion.

Read a full review here.


6. The Best Of Youth (2003)

dir. Marco Tullio Giordana

A staggeringly moving six-hour epic set against the backdrop of Italy in the late 20th century, The Best Of Youth is a film that proves patience and passion are some of the most powerful ingredients in cinema.

Following the lives of two brothers from the 1960s right up to the present day, watching this film really feels like a lifetime – and in the best way possible. With a blend of harsh, real-world drama and gorgeous, sun-baked nostalgia, the film lets you experience the ups and downs of a life in just six hours, from ageing, growing apart and a lifelong love story.

Read a full review here.


5. Perfect Strangers (2016)

dir. Paolo Genovese

An enormously entertaining comedy-drama, Perfect Strangers is a rollercoaster ride from start to finish, but undeniably one of the best ensemble movies of the 21st century.

Hilarious, emotional and incredibly sleek, director Paolo Genovese turns an innocent dinner party game into a story of nightmarish proportions, as a group of friends begin to fall apart as their secrets are revealed one by one. Complete with outstanding performances from all seven of its lead actors, this is an absolutely intoxicating piece of cinema.

Read a full review here.


4. Welcome To The South (2010)

dir. Luca Miniero

Italy’s films of the 1950s and ’60s may remain its most iconic, but as far as modern Italian cinema goes, there are few better films than the gut-bustingly funny Welcome To The South.

Following a stuck-up Milanese man who is transferred to work at a post office in a small southern town, the film exposes the country’s bitter north-south divide in hilarious fashion, poking fun at both sides while telling a genuinely heartwarming story, brought to life in the form of the unlikely friendship between leads Claudio Bisio and Alessandro Siani.

Read a full review here.


3. Cinema Paradiso (1988)

dir. Giuseppe Tornatore

The best movie about movies ever made, Giuseppe Tornatore’s achingly gorgeous Cinema Paradiso is the stuff of legend, and remains as powerful today as ever.

The moving story of a young boy who falls in love with cinema at his small town’s picture house, the film details his life as he grows up and falls in love, all with his passion for cinema in the background. Beautifully directed by Tornatore and filled with powerful nostalgia, this is the movie that all film fans will find themselves weeping at.

Read a full review here.


2. Divorce Italian Style (1961)

dir. Pietro Germi

The funniest Italian movie ever made, the side-splitting hilarity of Divorce Italian Style is utterly irresistible, making for one of the most deliriously entertaining films you’ll ever see.

Starring Marcello Mastroianni as a man who falls in love and marries a beautiful woman, only to realise that divorce is illegal when he is fed up of her, so sets about trying to murder her.

Full of dark, risqué humour as well as pure slapstick, this movie will have you wetting yourself thanks to its relentless, frenetic pacing and comedy-of-errors humour, as Mastroianni’s increasingly harebrained schemes keep going wrong.

Read a full review here.


1. 8½

dir. Federico Fellini

The story of a film director who begins to lose his mind as he tries to make an epic science-fiction movie, Fellini’s is surreal, maddening brilliance from start to finish.

Influenced by the experiences of countless directors before and after, the film is a powerful view into the mind of an artist struggling to create his vision, and beginning to lose touch with the world around him as a result.

Complete with beautiful cinematography, iconic scenes, bizarre humour and a career-best performance from the legendary Marcello Mastroianni, this is one of those films that really has to be seen to be believed, but is without doubt the very best that Italian cinema has ever had to offer.

Read a full review here.

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About Author

The Mad Movie Man, AKA Anthony Cullen, writes articles and reviews about movies and the world of cinema. Since January 1st, 2013, he has watched and reviewed a movie every day. This is the blog dedicated to the project: www.madmovieman.com