When people ask me if I went to film school, I tell them no, I went to films. – Quentin Tarantino

Quentin Tarantino is not just a world-class filmmaker but also a renowned film lover. He is a lifelong cinephile with an encyclopedic knowledge of the medium. Tarantino always packs his films with homages to the movies he loves. He even uses his renown as a means to provide exposure to films that he believes deserve more success. These are often foreign language films or older films that never found their audience. The following list is not in order of preference. Join us in exploring 20 Quentin Tarantino recommended movies.

Quentin Tarantino favorite movies

20. Battle Royale (2000)

Tarantino’s favorite films since becoming a filmmaker

When Tarantino hosted a ‘takeover’ of Sky Movies in 2009, he began with an introductory countdown of his favorite films released since he became a filmmaker himself, and topping that list was none other than the Japanese action thriller Battle Royale. Tarantino has called it a film he wishes he had made himself, and he would end up casting Chiaki Kuryama as Gogo in Kill Bill as a result of her work in Battle Royale.

Tarantino favourite films

Conclusion

Battle Royale is a violent action flick who’s reach and legacy permeates the zeitgeist in ways that ensure you’ve definitely seen its inspiration in other works, even if you haven’t seen the original film itself. It’s well worth seeking out. You can even find it on Blu Ray with Tarantino’s endorsement right on the cover.

Tarantino recommended films

19. Blow Out (1981)

Tarantino returns to Video Archives

Quentin Tarantino is a huge Brian De Palma fan. In the past he has called De Palma the greatest director of his generation, and called Blow Out his finest film. In the clip above, Tarantino returns to the video store that nurtured his love of cinema, chooses Blow Out as one of his three ‘desert island films,’ and celebrates John Travolta’s standout performance.

Quentin Tarantino favorite movies of all time

Conclusion

Blow Out is Brian De Palma in top form with a thrilling script brought to life by strong performances from not just Travolta but also Nancy Allen and John Lithgow as well.

Tarantino favorite movies

18. There Will Be Blood (2007)

Tarantino chats with Paul Thomas Anderson

Quentin Tarantino and Paul Thomas Anderson hold a great deal of respect for one another and have had a number of lengthy interview or podcast style chats over the years. The two have remarkably different styles but also share a lot in common, right down to their affinity for 70mm film (Tarantino shot The Hateful 8 on 70mm and Paul Thomas shot the majority of The Master on 70mm). Tarantino recommends There Will Be Blood and finds the central character, Daniel Plainview, extremely compelling.

Tarantino favourite films

Conclusion

Both Daniel Day-Lewis and Paul Dano deliver incredible performances in this story of blood, oil, and milkshakes.

Quentin Tarantino favorite movies of all time

17. Rolling Thunder (1977)

Tarantino named his home video line after Rolling Thunder

Quentin Tarantino loves Rolling Thunder so much that he has homaged it a number of times within his films. Tarantino. From 1995 to 1999 Tarantino had his own film distribution company, and he named this company… Rolling Thunder Pictures. While on the Empire podcast with fellow director Edgar Wright (see how we rank Edgar Wright’s filmography), Tarantino proclaimed his love for Rolling Thunder with an even wider audience.

Quentin Tarantino recommended movies

Conclusion

Rolling Thunder is a violent action film about a recently returned vietnam vet out for vengeance with a script from the great Paul Schrader providing a compelling backbone to the carnage.

Tarantino recommended films

16. The Host (2006)

Tarantino recommends The Host

Bong Joon-ho’s South Korean monster movie The Host is one of Quentin Tarantino’s favorite movies in recent years. Bong Joon-ho has cited Quentin Tarantino as both a source of inspiration, and as a powerful voice who championed his movies before he was a world-wide success. Tarantino also recommends Bong-joon Ho’s other films as well, such as his 2003 detective thriller Memories of Murder.

Quentin Tarantino favorite movies

Conclusion

The Host is certainly in contention for the title of ‘best monster movie ever made.’ Though the film came out in 2006, the special effects and sheer spectacle still shine above most competition to this day.

Tarantino favorite movies

15. The Protector (2005)

Tony Jaa is a living special effect

From time to time Quentin’s name gets attached to DVD and Blu-ray releases in what is known as the ‘Tarantino presents’ line of films. This label serves as a sort of ‘Tarantino stamp of approval,’ and provides lesser known, often foreign language films with a promotional boost that helps them reach a much wider audience. The Protector is one such film.

Other excellent martial arts films to receive Tarantino’s megaphone include works like Hero (2002) and Iron Monkey (1993).

Tarantino recommended films

Conclusion

It is impossible to overstate how badass Tony Jaa is in The Protector. The stunts and fights are immensely impressive. Also check him out in Ong Bak for more thai action.

Tarantino favourite films

14. Django (1966)

Franco Nero discusses the making of Django

Tarantino’s love for this Spaghetti Western is immediately clear through the title of his own Django Unchained. Franco Nero who starred as the titular Django in the original film has a cameo in Tarantino’s  film. As many as 30 unofficial sequels exist to the original Django, though only one, Django Strikes Again, sees Franco Nero reprising the iconic role, though that may change as there is a new sequel called Django Lives! Rumored to be in production.

Quentin Tarantino favorite movies list

Conclusion

Django is a cool gunslinger who fights bad guys with a coffin full of guns. Sounds like Tarantino's cup 'o tea!

Tarantino favorite movies

13. Switchblade Sisters (1966)

Tarantino reads from the Switchblade Sisters script

Switchblade Sisters is among Tarantino’s favorite grindhouse films. It was one of the films released through his short-lived Rolling Thunder Pictures brand in an attempt to bring in a new generation of fans to the underseen girl-gang flick. This is a film that goes under many different titles depending on where you live and which copy you track down.

You might find this film going under the titles The Jezebels, Playgirl Gang, Maggie’s Stiletto Sisters, and even The Warriors II.

See how StudioBinder ranks Tarantino’s entire filmography. How does your ranking compare? Best of Tarantino Ranked by Filmmakers.

Quentin Tarantino recommended movies

Conclusion

Switchblade Sisters is a schlocky but it's also undeniably a fun time at the movies.

Quentin Tarantino favorite movies

12. The Street Fighter (1974)

The Street Fighter in True Romance

Sonny Chiba stars as the titular street fighter in the first of a '70s Japanese martial-arts series that would continue with Return of the Street Fighter, and The Streetfighter’s Last Revenge, and even the spin-off Sister Streetfighter.

These films have a permanent place in Tarantino’s filmography as his characters attend a Street Fighter triple feature in the Tony Scott directed True Romance. Tarantino brought Chiba into his own cinematic universe with a role in Kill Bill Vol. 2 as the notorious Hattori Hanzo.

Quentin Tarantino favorite movies list

Conclusion

The Street Fighter is an ultra-violent, karate, gangster flick that was a staple in Grindhouse cinemas throughout the '70s and maintains a cult following today.

Quentin Tarantino favorite movies

11. Apocalypse Now (1979)

Go behind the scenes ‘the horror’

Francis Ford Coppola’s Vietnam war epic is one of Tarantino’s all-time favorite films and has left an indelible mark on the director’s mind. Apocalypse Now had a direct hand in inspiring the use of dogs crossing frame during the Spahn ranch scene in Once Upon a Time… In Hollywood.

Did you love Once Upon a Time… In Hollywood? Check out our Spahn Ranch scene breakdown to see how Tarantino crafts tension.

Quentin Tarantino favorite movies list

Conclusion

Apocalypse Now is a towering achievement in film. If you’ve never given your time over to this war epic, maybe it’s time to remedy that.

Tarantino favorite movies

10. Rio Bravo (1959)

Tarantino introduces Rio Bravo

Tarantino has consistently sung the praises of Rio Bravo throughout many an interview over the course of his career. Director Howard Hawks is often cited as one of the great pioneers of the cinematic art form and his easy-going Western sees him in top form behind the camera.

Quentin Tarantino favorite movies

Conclusion

John Wayne, Dean Martin, and Ricky Nelson make for an unforgettable trio in this hangout movie in the guise of a Western.

Quentin Tarantino favorite horror movies

9. Carrie (1976)

Tarantino talks Hitchcock and De Palma

Ever the De Palma fan, it’s no surprise that Tarantino recommends the 1976 adaptation of Stephen King’s novel Carrie. Maybe don’t bother with the other versions of this classic horror story. Stylistically speaking, Carrie exemplifies Brian De Palma’s vision as a director on set and in the editing room.

A number of stylistic flourishes from De Palma’s oeuvre have found their way into Tarantino’s films as homages over the years; the most eye-catching of which likely being the iconic split-screens.

Tarantino favorite horror movies

Conclusion

Carrie is a horror classic, and the iconic prom set piece alone is enough to ensure its status.

Quentin Tarantino favorite movies of all time

8. Dazed and Confused (1993)

Tied for ‘greatest hangout movie of all time’ for Tarantino

On a number of occasions, Tarantino has professed his love for the ‘hangout movie.’ He considers both Jackie Brown and Once Upon a Time... in Hollywood to be his contributions to the sub-genre. Richard Linklater’s Dazed and Confused is a worthy contender for king of the hangout movie.

For more QT goodness, be sure to check out our comprehensive study on the Directing Style of Quentin Tarantino.

Tarantino favorite movies

Conclusion

Dazed and Confused drops you into a perfectly realized time and place and offers a laid-back snapshot of a day-in-the-life of a group of lovable protagonists.

Quentin Tarantino favorite movies

7. The Great Escape (1963)

The original Great Escape side-by-side with Tarantino’s recreation

Tarantino recommends The Great Escape, the Steve McQueen-led WWII film from director John Sturges. Tarantino’s own WWII film, Inglourious Basterds surely pulled inspiration from The Great Escape. Both Steve McQueen and The Great Escape itself make appearances and factor into the plot of Tarantino’s own Once Upon a Time… In Hollywood as well.

The immense talents of the likes of James Garner, Charles Bronson, and Donald Pleasance among many others round out this cast of memorable characters attempting to escape a POW camp in Nazi Germany.

Tarantino favorite movies

Conclusion

Steve McQueen lives up to his title as the King of Cool is this masterpiece of '60s cinema. 

Tarantino favorite movies

6. His Girl Friday (1940)

A.O. Scott of the NY Times recommends His Girl Friday

His Girl Friday is the second Howard Hawks film on this list of Tarantino Favorites. Cary Grant and Rosalind Russell make for a perfect pairing in this apex of the Screwball Comedy sub-genre. Featuring one of the best scripts of the era, His Girl Friday excels on its whip-sharp dialogue delivered by two actors at the top of their games.

Tarantino favorite movies

Conclusion

The dialogue in His Girl Friday is so sharp and comes so fast that you may be left wondering how the actors didn’t all choke on their tongues and pass out on set.

Tarantino’s favorite movies of the decade

5. The Social Network (2010)

How did they ever make a movie out of Facebook?

When Quentin Tarantino was putting together his personal ‘best of the decade’ list, David Fincher’s The Social Network landed easily in the number one spot. He said of the film, “It is number one because it’s the best… it crushes all the competition.” Tarantino respects and recommends other David Fincher films as well, including 1999’s Fight Club.

Quentin Tarantino favorite movies of the decade

Conclusion

The Social Network will be remembered as an excellent film long after the actual Facebook has lost all relevance.

Tarantino favorite movies

4. The Good, the Bad & the Ugly (1966)

Tarantino on The Good, the Bad & the Ugly

The influence that the work of Sergio Leone had on Tarantino’s work is unmistakable. Tarantino has a great love for the best Spaghetti Westerns, none more so than The Good, the Bad & the Ugly.

Once Upon a Time in the West and Once Upon a Time in America were also important influences for Tarantino. Alongside Black Sabbath and Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein, Tarantino considers The Good, the Bad & the Ugly one of the three most influential films for his filmmaking.

Quentin Tarantino favorite movies of the decade

Conclusion

Featuring an unforgettable score from Ennio Morricone and the pinnacle of ‘showdown’ scenes, The Good, the Bad & the Ugly wraps up the “Dollars” trilogy in excellent fashion.

Tarantino’s favorite movies of the decade

3. Dunkirk (2017)

QT discusses Dunkirk on the Rewatchables podcast

Christopher Nolan’s 2017 WWII film Dunkirk made Tarantino’s best of decade list for the 2010s, landing at the number two spot. As a die-hard proponent of practical effects, Tarantino greatly admires Nolan’s rigor in crafting such jaw-dropping scenes of warfare in as authentic a manner as possible.

Tarantino’s favorite movies of the decade

Conclusion

Dunkirk keeps up a break-neck pace for the entirety of its runtime and features excellent sound design that constantly raises the tension.

Tarantino favorite movies

2. Sorcerer (1977)

Video essay by Matt Draper

Sorcerer is William Friedkin’s remake of the classic French nailbiter The Wages of Fear, also previously remade as Violent Road in 1958. The story follows a Roy Schieder-led group of men tasked with transporting highly volatile trucks full of nitroglycerin through a South American jungle. It is a tense and exhilarating affair.

Quentin Tarantino recommended movies

Conclusion

Tarantino recommends Sorcerer as his favorite William Friedkin picture, the excellent filmmaker behind films like The French Connection and The Exorcist.

Tarantino favorite movies list

1. Taxi Driver (1976)

Tarantino reviews Taxi Driver

One of many Martin Scorsese films that Quentin Tarantino loves and recommends, but none top Taxi Driver. Travis Bickle, one of cinema’s most fascinating protagonists, is played to perfection by a top-of-his-game Robert De Niro. One of QT's Top 5 movies of all-time, Tarantino argues for Scorsese's "exuberance" for filmmaking and the creative momentum he had between the mid-70s and into the '80s.

Tarantino calls it perhaps the best character studies. It puts the viewer directly into Bickle's head — we see through his eyes. Point of view is a difficult thing to master in cinema but Tarantino posits that Scorsese absolutely nailed it.

Quentin Tarantino favorite movies list

Conclusion

Taxi Driver is essential viewing for anyone with a love of cinema, as is most of Scorsese’s filmography.

UP NEXT

How to write dialogue like Tarantino 

Ever wondered how you can write dialogue like Quentin Tarantino? If you want to give it a try, take a look at our pointers in a breakdown of one of Kill Bill’s most important scenes. Check out our corresponding video essay to hear Tarantino’s dialogue in action.

Up Next: Tarantino dialogue →
Solution Icon - Shot List and Storyboard

Showcase your vision with elegant shot lists and storyboards.

Create robust and customizable shot lists. Upload images to make storyboards and slideshows.

Learn More ➜

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.

4 Shares
Copy link