Best Italian Movies – Iconic Italian Films

These Italian movies have changed the world: iconic Italian films, Italian westerns - spaghetti Westerns, cult Italian horror movies and classic Italian comedies.

The majority of these movies were produced at legendary Cinecittà film studios in Rome – where greatest Italian film directors and Italian movie stars created their magic.

Italian Movies - Bicycle Theives (1948) by Vittorio de Sica

Italian neorealism by Vittorio de Sica

Bicycle Thieves (1948) by Vittorio de Sica is often cited as not only the best Italian film, but also one of the best movies of all time.

The Italian film director financed the project himself, because no movie studio agreed to produce it. He shot on location only and used non-actors for the main parts. Oscar for best Foreign Language Film.

Rome by Federico Fellini

Maestro of Italian cinema, Federico Fellini, is one of the most influential movie directors of all time. He received 4 best movie Oscar awards, the highest number of Oscars for Best Foreign Language Film, including one for his autobiographical masterpiece 8 ½ (1963).

Martin Scorsese, Woody Allen, Francis Ford Coppola, Ingmar Bergman, David Lynch and David Cronenberg all praised the Italian movie director.

Italian Movies - 8 1/2 (1963) by Federico Fellini

Italian Movies - Blow-up (1966) by Michelangelo Antonioni

Italian films by Michelangelo Antonioni

There isn't much action in Michelangelo Antonioni’s movies. One could call them boring. But few did. He was the most influential art film director in the world. He achieved international prominence with L’avventura (1960), La Notte (1961) and Eclipse (1962).

His best known film is probably cult classic Blow-up (1966), set in London’s swinging sixties. It tells a story of a photographer who discovers he had unknowingly witnessed a murder. Grand Prix at 1966 Cannes Film Festival.

Italian movies by Bernardo Bertolucci

Bernardo Bertolucci is arguably the most controversial Italian main-stream movie director.

Last Tango in Paris (1972) is now a classic Italian film. But upon initial release, it caused unprecedented public and critical uproar. It was banned in many countries, including Bertolucci’s native Italy, where he was sentenced to 4 months in prison.

Along with The Godfather, which was made at around the same time, Last Tango in Paris sealed the fate of Marlon Brando as the greatest male movie star ever.

Italian Movies - Last Tango in Paris (1972) by Bernardo Bertolucci

Italian Movies - The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966) by Sergio Leone

Spaghetti Westerns by Sergio Leone

Italian westerns were not taken seriously until Sergio Leone introduced his unique style and vision. He dispensed of Hollywood glamour and created a ruthless world that the Wild West really was, accompanied by iconic Ennio Morricone music and a few Western cliché’s.

As a result, his Spaghetti westerns The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966) and Once Upon a Time in the West (1968) are not only among the best westerns, but are also some of the best movies of all time.

Commedia All’Italiana Movies

Between 1960 and 1980, Italian film industry produced a large bouquet of great comedy movies. That period was called Commedia all’Italiana (Comedy Italian Style). Comedies of that time were a satire on Italian way of life. Essentially, Italians made fun of themselves.

Divorce, Italian Style (1961), Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow (1963) and Marriage, Italian Style (1964) are some of the most famous classic Italian movies of the time.

Italian Movies - Italian Comedies

Italian Horror Movies - Suspiria (1977) by Dario Argento

Italian horror movies

This list of best Italian films would not be complete without cult Italian horror films. They are known to be violent, slow, and excessive, with elements of eroticism. They range from low-quality “giallo” films to critically-acclaimed masterpieces of world cinema.

Dario Argento is the most famous movie director of Italian horror films. His movies Deep Red (1975) and Suspiria (1977) are rated as some of the scariest films of all time and are also among the best films of world cinema.

New Wave of Classic Italian Movies

In the 80’s Italian cinema had a slow period. Cinecittà studios were bought by the Italian government in an attempt to save famous Italian studios from bankruptcy.

Cinema Paradiso (1988) was an unexpected and much needed success. Top awards at Cannes Film Festival, Oscars, Golden Globes and BAFTA’s.

But more importantly, the film breathed life back into Italian film business. In the 1990’s, Italy released Mediterraneo (1991) and Life is Beautiful (1997). Both movies received Oscars for Best Foreign Language Film.

Italian Movies - Cinema Paradiso (1988) by Giuseppe Tornatore

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