The 11 Best Movies of All Time According to Tarantino

Quentin Tarantino is one of the greatest directors of all time, but what movies inspire him?  

The greatest attribute Quentin Tarantino has given filmmakers and cinephiles alike is the desire to look back at movies they might have never seen or explored. And no one loves movies as much as Tarantino. This is evident in all of his work, but it's especially evident in last year's Once Upon a Time...In Hollywood

“When I make a film, I am hoping to reinvent the genre a little bit,” Tarantino once said. “I just do it my way. I make my own little Quentin versions of them… I consider myself a student of cinema. It’s almost like I am going for my professorship in cinema, and the day I die is the day I graduate. It is a lifelong study.”

Well, those tendencies have led us to some great movies. 

Back in 2008, Tarantino submitted a handwritten list to Empire Magazine that offers up 11 of his favorite films. The genres were all over the map. We know what his favorite overall westerns have been but I loved looking at a complete list of all the best work really got me excited. 

Check out the list below. 

The 11 Best Movies of All Time According to Tarantino

  1. The Good, the Bad and the Ugly – Sergio Leone, 1966.
  2. Rio Bravo – Howard Hawks, 1959.
  3. Blow Out – Brian De Palma, 1981.
  4. Taxi Driver – Martin Scorsese, 1976.
  5. His Girl Friday – Howard Hawks, 1940.
  6. Five Fingers of Death – Jeong Chang-Hwa, 1972.
  7. Pandora’s Box – G. W. Pabst, 1929.
  8. Carrie – Brian De Palma, 1976.
  9. Unfaithfully Yours – Preston Sturges, 1948.
  10. Five Graves to Cairo – Billy Wilder, 1943.
  11. Jaws – Steven Spielberg, 1975.

It's no wonder Tarantino put Leone's masterpiece first. He once said, “I would go even as far as to say that [Leone] is the greatest combination of a complete film stylist, where he creates his own world, and storyteller. Those two are almost never married. To be as great a stylist as he is and create this operatic world, and to do this inside a genre, and to pay attention to the rules of the genre, while breaking the rules all the time — he is delivering you a wonderful western.”

The rest include his friends Scorsese, De Palma, and Spielberg, as well as directors from across the world. 

Do you agree with Tarantino's list? 

For me, it seems more like favorites and not the greatest films ever made, but... who knows? 

The debate begins in the comments.      

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Your Comment


everytimes a cinema lover did his list, he wrote about his favorites. Nice to know that Leone is in pole position for Quentin :-D

July 28, 2020 at 2:19PM

Carlo Macchiavello
Director (with strong tech knowledge)

"Quentin Tarantino is one of the greatest directors of all time"?

Extremely debatable.

July 29, 2020 at 5:59AM, Edited July 29, 5:59AM

Anthony Wood

"Quentin Tarantino is one of the greatest directors of all time"

Even though I like Jackie Brown, Django and Pulp Fiction (and dislike several other of his films) the statement about is not only unprofessional for a site like this, it's also highly subjective. Who defines him to be one of the greatest? And if so, wouldn't he also be between the most (financially) successful directors of all time, which he clearly isn't? What exactly proves his greatness, even if it's just your personal opinion? I mean, as a writer on a film blog you should be able to lay out to your readers why you think he's the greatest instead of just postulating it, otherwise it's as meaningless as saying "Use Boll is the greatest director of all time!"

July 29, 2020 at 11:54PM, Edited July 29, 11:55PM


1. “The statement is unprofessional for a site like this."

It’s not unprofessional or uncommon for a website dedicated to film to make statements about a filmmaker. Film-centric websites make statements about film and filmmakers day in and day out. No Film School is entitled to their opinion.

2. “Who defines him to be one of the greatest.”

Many people — critics, publications, civilians, etc. — think Tarantino is a great director and/or one of the greatest directors of all time. He is frequently talked about, written about and listed as a great director and/or one of the greatest directors of all time.

3. “And if so, wouldn't he also be between the most (financially) successful directors of all time, which he clearly isn’t?”

Tarantino is one of the most financially successful directors of all time. The average box office for his films is similar to that of Bret Ratner, David Fincher, Ron Howard, Ridley Scott and Guy Ritchie. If you combine all of Tarantino’s films, he has made almost 200 Billion Dollars at the box office.

4. “You should be able to lay out to your readers why you think he's the greatest…”

This is not an article about why Tarantino is one of the greatest directors of all time. Instead, it is an article about some of Tarantino’s favorite films.

No Film School does not need to give an explanation every time they choose to describe a filmmaker with a superlative.

August 1, 2020 at 9:56AM


I really wish we could get a list like this on NFS from someone like Kimberly Peirce, Kathryn Bigelow, or Ava DuVernay. Tarrantino is a fine director, but we get tons of articles about him every month, and his various lists are pretty typical for a male director of his generation. I remember almost every one of these movies being part of a watch list for a friend of mine who was going to film school back in 1992. After doing a little googling, I found one of Ava DuVernay's favorite films that she mentions frequently as an influence on her was West Side Story (1961). She also mentions Walter Salles's Central Station (1998), Julie Dash's Daughters of the Dust (1991), and Rúnar Runarsson's Volcano (2011) as important films of our times. Tarrantino's classics are important, of course; but it would be nice to see more variety that reflects the many visions in the world of filmmaking.

July 30, 2020 at 9:05AM

Cedrick May


August 23, 2020 at 2:33AM

Stu Mannion

It should be called "My greatest HOLLYWOOD movies".

July 30, 2020 at 12:10PM

Saby Mondal

The Good The Bad and the Ugly is not a hollywood movie. Doesn't appear on AFI's lists, presumably for this reason.

August 2, 2020 at 3:35AM, Edited August 2, 3:39AM


Quentin's done this stuff a few times and every time, the movies seem a bit different. Interesting to see his thoughts change a lot over time.

August 2, 2020 at 3:37AM


Five Fingers of Death is not even the best old school martial arts film. This is clearly a list if favorites.

August 12, 2020 at 3:36AM



August 17, 2020 at 2:48AM


Good the Bad and the Ugly, don't watch the extended cut though. It's trash.

August 22, 2020 at 4:51PM

Jesse Yules

Good choices.

I love Rio Bravo, it's a nice little western with interesting characters and just a fun movie. I always cringe though when Ricky Nelson picks up that guitar but then you have Angie Dickinson and Walter Brennan is so fun as Stumpy with his dyne-mite.

His Girl Friday is also a great pick. mile a minute lines and energetic story it's a great movie and wonderful to watch the stars play off each other. Cary Grant & Rosalind Russell = WIN!

Prefer once upon a time in the west but The Good the bad is a good pick.

Taxi Driver makes sense and five fingers and Graves to Cairo will have to watch.

Haven't seen Carrie in a while but love Jaws. It's a great movie and nice touch on the ending where after they kill the shark they have to swim back and you see them climb out the water just as the final credits roll.

Good choices.

April 24, 2022 at 6:39PM, Edited April 24, 6:39PM