Guillermo del Toro’s Favorite Movies: 52 Films to See
From “Nosferatu” to recent Alfonso Cuarón and Thomas Vinterberg masterpieces, here are films that have earned del Toro’s stamp of approval.
Guillermo del Toro’s boundless imagination, from the gothic horrors of “Crimson Peak” to the creature-feature-inspired “The Shape of Water,” has been cultivated by a lifelong love of cinema. The Mexican filmmaker proudly wears his influences on his sleeves, while championing the past and future of moviegoing and movie-making. Just take his latest projects.
There’s the stunning, stop-motion “Pinocchio” reimagining, which is leagues better than Disney’s straight-to-streaming competitor — far too slick for its own good (no matter how much Tom Hanks tried). And, also at Netflix, there’s the “Cabinet of Curiosities“: an eight-part horror anthology that unfortunately does not include any directing from del Toro, but does feature his writing, producing, and a Rod Serling-like “Twilight Zone” style intro for each episode.
Before that, the 2021 show business noir “Nightmare Alley” saw del Toro loosely remake a 1947 classic, but he also imbued plenty of his own sensibilities and penchant for shocking horror, luscious production design, and arch performances into the Oscar-nominated thriller. As always, del Toro adoringly looks backward at cinema as much as he looks forward. “Pan’s Labyrinth” drew from his love of Lewis Carroll and early silent cinematic folktales to craft a contemporary fairy tale. Not to mention “Cronos”: the director’s 1993 feature debut, praised for its rich vampire mythology and undying attention to detail.
Del Toro has long used social media and interviews for his own films to champion the movies past and present that he deems masterpieces. He’s an especially avid online presence in colder months, when the chilly change of seasons puts his eerie expertise in especially high demand. To celebrate del Toro’s body of work — and, let’s be real, shamelessly seek out new favorites for ourselves — IndieWire has rounded up 52 movies by other filmmakers that del Toro has publicly championed and recommended.
Take a look below at some of the classic titles and new adventures touted by the two-time Oscar winner as among the films he doesn’t want you to miss, including black-and-white staples like “Bride of Frankenstein” and “The Prowler” as well as modern masterpieces like James Camerons “Avatar: The Way of Water” and David Cronenberg’s “Crimes of the Future.” The following is organized alphabetically, and was most recently updated to include del Toro’s selections from the 2022 Sight and Sound Greatest Films of All Time poll.
Ryan Lattanzio and Zack Sharf contributed to this story.
(Editor’s note: The following gallery was originally published in July 2019. It’s been updated multiple times since.)
“Barry Lyndon” (1975)
Del Toro kicked off his 2022 Sight and Sound ballot with Stanley Kubrick’s 1975 period drama “Barry Lyndon.” Based on William Makepeace Thackeray’s 1844 novel “The Luck of Barry Lyndon,” the visually lush film stars Ryan O’Neal as the titular Irish rogue intent on climbing the ladder of French aristocracy. It’s a narratively complex consideration, and at times satirization, of the tragic trappings of societally-defined success.
At the Oscars, it earned a nod for Best Picture as well as nominations for Kubrick for Best Director and for Best Adapted Screenplay. “Barry Lyndon” won four Academy Awards that year, including Best Art Direction, Best Costume Design, Best Cinematography, and Best Score. —AF
Del Toro told the BFI that Martin Scorsese’s 1990 gangster movie “Goodfellas” is one of the most “influential films” ever made, single-handedly playing a part in creating the look and feel of 21st century cinema. “A movie that can be rewatched endlessly and remain fresh and surprising,” del Toro added. “Perfect in every aspect, behind and in front of the camera.” —ZS
Del Toro also included this title on his 2022 Sight and Sound ballot.
“City Lights” (1931)
Charlie Chaplin is a favorite performer of del Toro’s for the obvious reasons. The Mexican filmmaker previously included Chaplin’s 1936 film “Modern Times” on his Sight and Sound ballot from 2012 (and we’ve included it later in this list). But in 2022, del Toro highlighted the earlier “City Lights” from 1931, which sees Chaplin simultaneously playing out the hysterical beats of a silent rom-com and deftly exploring the melancholic heartbreak that fuels the film’s humor. —AF
“Close Encounters of the Third Kind” (1977)
Steven Spielberg’s 1977 alien visitation drama “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” made del Toro’s 2022 Sight and Sound list. The classic sci-fi staple is regarded among the greatest extraterrestrial epics ever rendered, and stars “Jaws” icon Richard Dreyfuss as a UFO-obsessed electrician living in Indiana. —AF
Given how much of an outspoken fan Guillermo del Toro is of movie monsters, it’s not too surprising to see James Whale’s pre-Code monster movie “Frankenstein” listed as one of his favorites. “‘Frankenstein’ is a film — and a tale — that touches the very essence of what I am and all that I believe in,” del Toro told the BFI. “Whale’s superb eye and tonal command are matched by a Karloff performance that manages to transmit both fragility and power.” —ZS
Del Toro also included this title on his 2022 Sight and Sound ballot.
For his 2012 Sight and Sound poll naming the best movies ever made, del Toro showered Federico Fellini’s magnum opus in significant praise. “A true classic has to be both intimate and universal,” the director wrote. “To speak about cinema through cinema requires a voice unwavering in its passion and purity. ‘8½’ speaks as much about life as it does about art — and it makes certain to connect both. A portrait of the teller and his craft — a lustful, sweaty, gluttonous poem to cinema.”—ZS
Del Toro also included this title on his 2022 Sight and Sound ballot.
Luis Buñuel’s satirical “Nazarín” adapts Benito Pérez Galdós’s 1895 novel of the same name, and tells the story of the titular priest Nazarín (Francisco Rabal) and a profound testing of his faith. It appeared on Del Toro’s 2022 Sight and Sound ballot. —AF
“No Country for Old Men” (2007)
Joel and Ethan Coen adapted Cormac McCarthy’s 2005 novel “No Country for Old Men” into a brilliant Western crime caper just two years after its release. The Oscar-nominated film — nominated for a total of eight Academy Awards — won Best Picture, Best Director, Best Supporting Actor for Javier Bardem, and Best Adapted Screenplay, before eventually snagging a spot on del Toro’s 2022 Sight and Sound list. Josh Brolin stars as a man who stumble upon and subsequently steals the fortune of a Bardem’s unbelievable villain. —AF
“Shadow of a Doubt” (1943)
Del Toro is an admirer of fellow horror heavyweight and the Master of Suspsense Alfred Hitchcock, as so many genre filmmakers are. He previously praised Hitchcock’s “The Man Who Knew Too Much” to Criterion, and in 2022 shouted out the 1943 film “Shadow of a Doubt” on his Sight and Sound list. The psychological thriller stars Teresa Wright as a young girl who discovers her uncle (Joseph Cotten) is a wanted killer. —AF
“The Magnificent Ambersons” (1942)
Based on Booth Tarkington’s 1918 novel of the same name, “The Magnificent Ambersons” was the last entry on del Toro’s 2022 Sight and Sound list. The 1942 period piece centers on a wealthy family in decline at the turn of the 20th century. Joseph Cotten, Dolores Costello, Tim Holt, Anne Baxter, and more star. —AF
“A Ghost Story” (2017)
In naming his favorite films from 2017, del Toro picked David Lowery’s awe-inspiring “A Ghost Story” as his personal best of the year. He would later refer to the film, starring Casey Affleck and Rooney Mara as a “masterpiece” and one of the best cinematic ghost stories ever made. —ZS
“Another Round” (2020)
Guillermo del Toro was such a fan of Thomas Vinterberg’s “Another Round” that he joined the movie’s Oscar campaign by hosting a video panel with Vinterberg and actor Mads Mikkelsen. The film went on to win the Oscar for Best International Feature Film.
“It’s extraordinary to see a movie that moves you, that affects you, the way this one did to me,” Guillermo del Toro said. “I wanted to say something: The title in Danish (‘Druk’), and the title in English, both are very, very beautiful. In English, it’s because ‘Another Round’ means all these characters are going to get another round at life, and the other is about binge-drinking, the original title, but it is the same thing: Can we get intoxicated with life? Can we take it again?”
Del Toro added, “The final scene is one of the most extraordinary things I’ve seen on film ever,” referring to the buoyant dance Mads Mikkelsen bursts into before leaping into the water. “It truly captures something that is lightning in a bottle.” —ZS
“Avatar: The Way of Water” (2022)
Del Toro loved James Cameron’s “Avatar: The Way of Water,” as did many more of the Oscar-nominated film’s critics. After waiting just under 13 years for the film to reach audiences, del Toro raved about the sequel and called it an “astounding achievement” on Twitter. He continued, describing the film as having “majestic Vistas and emotions at an epic, epic scale.” Del Toro finishied by calling Cameron “a master at the peak of his powers.” —AF
“Beauty and the Beast” (1946)
Jean Cocteau’s 1946 adaptation of Jeanne-Marie Leprince de Beaumont’s iconic fairy tale is “one of the most magical films ever made,” del Toro told Criterion when naming his favorite movies. “It’s a film that truly is in love with the sublime, sophisticated, Freudian quality that a fairy tale really has.” Del Toro would go on to cite this Cocteau masterwork numerous times when discussing influences behind his Oscar winner “The Shape of Water.” —ZS
“Blood Simple” (1984)
Joel and Ethan Coen made their directorial debut with this neo-noir crime thriller about a man who hires a private investigator to kill his unfaithful wife and her new lover. Del Toro told Criterion the film, starring Frances McDormand in her feature acting debut, is as perfect as first features get. “’Blood Simple’ contains most, if not all, of the preoccupations the Coens will articulate throughout their career,” the filmmaker said. “It’s a perfect first movie.” —ZS
“Terry Gilliam is a living treasure, and we are squandering him foolishly with every film of his that remains unmade,” del Toro once told Criterion Collection. “Proof that our world is the poorer for this can be found in two of his masterpieces. Gilliam is a fabulist pregnant with images — exploding with them, actually — and fierce, untamed imagination. He understands that ‘bad taste’ is the ultimate declaration of independence from the discreet charm of the bourgeoisie. He jumps with no safety net and drags us with him into a world made coherent only by his undying faith in the tale he is telling. ‘Brazil’ remains one of the most important films of my life.” —ZS
“Bride of Frankenstein
“‘Bride of Frankenstein’ is absolutely perfect,” gushed del Toro in a 2010 list for Rotten Tomatoes. “It has the innocence and beauty of a fairy tale, but has the darkness of a gothic horror tale. So the combination is irresistible.” The 1935 sequel to Universal’s “Frankenstein” sees Elsa Lanchester as the titular, black-and-white haired beauty opposite Boris Karloff, reprising his role as Frankenstein’s monster alongside Colin Clive as the mad scientist. —AF
“Canoa: A Shameful Memory” (1976)
Felipe Cazals’ 1976 drama “Canoa: A Shameful Memory” is landmark Mexican cinema, del Toro told Criterion. The depicts the struggles of a group of young workers who get mistaken for communist students during a trip in the mountains. “The screenplay is one of the most brilliant ever written,” del Toro said. “Formally and thematically, it absolutely changes the game of what a Mexican movie was able to portray: it breaks with censorship, it breaks with formal rigidity and with what the state-funded cinema considered sanctionable.” —ZS
“Crimes of the Future” (2022)
Guillermo del Toro attended the 2022 Cannes Film Festival and left the world premiere of David Cronenberg’s latest body horror movie stunned. “Quick drop-in to report that CRIMES OF THE FUTURE is 100% Cronenbergian Body Gospel- hinting at the cosmic reaches of biology and the very human limits of our grief. Odd, moving and authentic, with a fantastic final close-up. Cronenberg-Lantos together again!” he wrote on Twitter. —RL
“Eyes Without a Face” (1960)
“(The main character is) like an undead Audrey Hepburn. It influenced me a lot with the contrast between beauty and brutality,” del Toro told Criterion about Georges Franju’s 1960 French-Italian horror film. Pierre Brasseur stars as a plastic surgeon obsessed with performing a face transplant on his daughter after she lives through a terrible car crash. “The clash of haunting and enchanting imagery has seldom been more powerful,” the director said. “‘Eyes Without a Face’ boasts an extraordinary soundtrack too!” —ZS
“Full of iconic moments of pure cinema, pulp horror, carny noir, perverse melodrama — ‘Freaks’ is still unclassifiable after many decades,” del Toro wrote for his Sight and Sound ballot about Tod Browning’s 1932 cult classic. “Still sick, twisted, perverse and profoundly human. Pickled in a jar of bile, it contains Browning’s view of the world at its purest.” —ZS
“An exquisite engraving of human perversity, ‘Greed’ is a monumental fable that will continue to influence cinema for decades to come,” del Toro wrote for Sight and Sound in 2012 about Erich von Stroheim’s silent drama. “As modern and brutal today as it was the day it was released. A perfect reflection of the anxiety permeating the passage into the 20th century and the absolute dehumanization that was to come.” —ZS
“I Walked with a Zombie” (1943)
Del Toro shouted out a number of films in this 2019 tweet, praising the opening of “The Seventh Victim,” the genre impact of “Cat People,” and the hidden gem status of “Ghost Ship.” But the cinephile really hit the nail on the head with Jacques Tourneur’s “I Walked with a Zombie,” likening it to “Rebecca” or “Jane Eyre” with voodoo. Tom Conway and Frances Dee star. —AF
“I’m No Longer Here” (2020)
Fernando Frías de la Parra’s acclaimed drama “I’m No Longer Here” was Mexico’s official 2021 Oscar submission for Best International Film, but it did not end up receiving a nomination. Del Toro and Alfonso Cuarón (an Oscar winner in the category for “Roma”) went to bat for the film in a conversation with IndieWire in which del Toro praised the 10-time Ariel Award-winning drama (the Ariel Awards are the equivalent of the Oscars in Mexico).
“The movie has been successful because it portrays a specific reality that exists briefly in a time and a space that are no more,” said Del Toro. “It talks about things that are evanescent, go away, both in terms of in our culture and in our identity. It’s a movie about exile, it’s a movie that by being particular has become universal and it can connect with everyone.”
Del Toro continued, “The true artist has a specificity that comes from truth and this movie is all truth. It tells the story of the essential disenfranchisement of a young man in a society that changes right before his eyes. He leaves for a moment, he’s in exile for a moment, and finds himself a stranger in a stranger land, and then comes back to his country to be in exile within that country, because what it was has changed. That is rare — a movie that you find being done so early in the career of a young filmmaker that has the wisdom and the control of a medium that is formally but at the same time, very, very free narratively.” —ZS
“Jason and the Argonauts” (1963)
It should come as no surprise that del Toro recommends Don Chaffey’s “Jason and the Argonauts”: a groundbreaking 1963 achievement in fantasy filmmaking that relied heavily on stop-motion to pull off its legendary special effects. Though the Greek mythology-inspired epic frequently breaks from its ancient origins, associate producer and visual artist Ray Harryhausen (who is widely credited with the film’s most triumphant beats, including its famed skeleton scene) transports audiences to a bygone world with its own special, nostalgia-imbued charm. —AF
Steven Spielberg’s “Jaws” is one of the best horror films ever made, del Toro told Wired during a video interview. The director’s decision to hide his eponymous shark until the second half of the film would shape the structure of monster movies for decades to come, a contribution that was never lost on del Toro while making his own horror films. —ZS
Guillermo del Toro has always had a love for ghost stories, and Masaki Kobayashi’s “Kwaidan” is one of his favorites. As the filmmaker told Criterion, “It’s a fairy tale that is both incredibly scary and incredibly beautiful and talks about love and death with equal passion.” —ZS
Again speaking with Criterion, del Toro writes of Kaneto Shindo’s “Onibaba” and “Kuroneko”: “Horrors and desire, death and lust go hand in hand in Onibaba and Kuroneko, a perverse, sweaty double bill from Kaneto Shindo. I saw these two films at age ten, and they did some serious damage to my psyche. Both are perfect fables rooted in Japanese folklore but distinctly modern in their approach to violence and sexuality. As exuberant and exquisite as a netsuke carving, these atmospheric jewels show mankind trapped in a cosmically evil world. The tales seem to fit together so perfectly that they fuse into one as time goes by. Onibaba and Kuroneko make a perfect double bill for the second circle of hell.” —AF
“La Chienne” (1931)
“La Chienne,” the second sound film directed by French master Jean Renoir, tells the story of a pimp and his prostitute who team up to exploit a painter for money with unintended consequences. “Renoir is, above anything else, a humanist, and he doesn’t judge anyone,” del Toro told Criterion. “There is an all-encompassing goodwill toward humanity in his films.” —ZS
“Los Olvidados” (1952)
Del Toro told the BFI that Luis Buñuel’s Mexico period piece is a particular favorite of his, including the 1950 drama “Los Olvidados.” “His surreal, anarchist spirit cuts the deepest when used against a conventional genre or a commercial constraint,” del Toro said. “This example of the golden era of Mexican cinema packs a punch, never flinching in depicting innocence suffocating by rules and concrete buildings. Ruthless Dickens as regurgitated by an atheist.” —ZS
“Modern Times” (1936)
What filmmaker isn’t inspired by the great Charlie Chaplin? Del Toro says Chaplin’s silent comedy masterpiece “Modern Times” represents the “absolute command of the cinematic medium,” adding, “It’s ballet, pantomime…Chaplin manages to entertain and move the audience. In a sense it is the flip side of Murnau’s ‘Sunrise.’” —ZS
“Night of the Hunter” (1955)
Del Toro once said Charles Laughton’s thriller “Night of the Hunter” was so dark and so beautiful that it “truly made me weep in awe.” The film famously stars Robert Mitchum as a minister turned serial killer who comes up with a plan to charm a widow and steal her money after executing her husband. For del Toro, the film is one of the “supreme works” of both his childhood and the horror genre. —ZS
Another silent horror film del Toro adores is F. W. Murnau’s Expressionism vampire classic “Nosferatu.” The director told Sight and Sound in 2012 the film is “a symphony of perfect visual storytelling. The hypnotic nature of the film engrosses the audience into a trance. Along with Dreyer’s ‘Vampyr’ (1932), it’s one of the two pillars for every vampiric film ever made. Whereas Dreyer concerns himself with the spiritual, Murnau’s film has a tangible, physical component of corruption that makes evil immediate and real.” —ZS
“Other Men’s Women” (1931)
Guillermo del Toro’s tastes frequently lean toward the obscure, and he is never afraid to dig into some of America’s earliest works of cinema. Another one of del Toro’s recent recommendations on Twitter was William Wellman’s 1931 melodrama “Other Men’s Women.” The “Pan’s Labyrinth” director described it as “a powerful pre-Code film that depicts a touching love triangle. Fluid, gorgeous camera work and an early Cagney appearance that you will savor.” —CZ
“Paths of Glory” (1957)
Including both “Spartacus” and “Paths of Glory” in his top 10 favorite films for The Criterion Collection in 2010, del Toro writes: “Kubrick was a fearsome intellect. His approach to filmmaking and storytelling remains as mysterious at it is compelling… ‘Paths of Glory’ is a searing indictment of the war machine, as pertinent now as it was in its day.”
He continues: “I suspect, however, that Kubrick was also a highly instinctive director, and that he grasped incessantly for his films. An anecdote tells us of him begging Kirk Douglas to stay in bed a few more days after an accident, because Kubrick was using the ‘downtime’ to understand the film they were making.” —AF
Another favorite filmmaker of del Toro’s is Japanese legend Akira Kurosawa, who adapted Shakespeare’s “King Lear” into the epic “Ran.” Del Toro said of the film, “Kurosawa’s being one of the essential masters is best represented by (‘Ran’), one of his most operatic, pessimistic, and visually spectacular films. How he managed to be both exuberant and elegant at the same time will be one of life’s great mysteries.” —ZS
Guillermo del Toro is good friends with fellow director Alfonso Cuarón and proclaimed his three-time Oscar winner one of his five most favorite films of all-time. Del Toro would go on to share 10 observations about “Roma” on his Twitter page, proving why the film leaped into the top of his “best films ever made” list.
“‘Roma’ is, for me, the culmination of Alfonso’s career so far,” del Toro later said at the 2018 New York Film Festival. “When I first saw the movie, I said to him, ‘This is not only your best movie, it’s one of my top five movies of all time. But don’t get big-headed: it’s number five.”
“At its highest function, cinema is memory,” del Toro said of the film’s power. “It tells us things that we remember, but never happened to us. We live them like experiences.” —ZS
“Something in the Dirt” (2022)
Del Toro, ever eager to see and rave about the latest films, has been stumping for Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead’s “Something in the Dirt” for weeks on social media. In his review for IndieWire, Carlos Aguilar described the 2022 sci-fi comedy as “the most bizarrely intricate film” from the creative duo yet. Once again starring in a project they also wrote, Benson and Moorhead fall into the tale of two unexpected friends who witness an unexplainable phenomenon. —AF
“The Automat” (2021)
For those unfamiliar with food service company Horn & Hardart, responsible for popularizing the American automat, del Toro has two recommendations. First, there’s Mitchell Leisen’s “Easy Living”: a 1937 rom-com that del Toro described as having “one of the great automat scenes.” Second, there’s the documentary “The Automat,” directed by Lisa Hurwitz. Del Toro tweeted of the film: “This documentary has a gentle soul and an original song by Mel Brooks. What’s not to like?” —AF
“The Exorcist” (1973)
Guillermo del Toro told Wired that William Friedkin’s “The Exorcist” is one of the scariest movies he’s ever seen, but it took a couple of years for the iconic movie to terrify the filmmaker. “When I was a kid, ‘The Exorcist’ didn’t do anything to me. But then I became a parent and it became incredibly scary. Films change with your age. The truth in our world and what we need to understand is that horror is all too human. You have to fear the living more than the dead.” —ZS
“The Innocents” (1961)
While picking the best horror movies ever made in a video interview with Wired, del Toro gave a shout out to “The Innocents.” The 1961 psychological thriller from British filmmaker Jack Clayton stars Deborah Kerr as a governess who becomes convinced her home and the children she’s caring for are possessed. “I admire it the most because of Jack Clayton’s camerawork is just astounding,” the director told IGN. —ZS
“The Invisible Man” (1933)
Del Toro was quick to jump to the defense of James Whale’s Universal Monster staple “The Invisible Man.” Responding to an article describing the 1933 sci-fi film as “mid-tier” on Twitter, del Toro wrote: “It is not mid-tier IMO it is top 5 Whale. Right alongside Waterloo Bridge (1931).” Del Toro has also praised Whale’s “Frankenstein” and its sequel “Bride of Frankenstein,” both of which appear on this list. —AF
“The Man Who Knew Too Much” (1956)
Like nearly every working director born in the 1960s, del Toro was greatly influenced by the films of Alfred Hitchcock. Del Toro picks “The Man Who Knew Too Much” as the Master of Suspense’s most influential movie for him, telling Criterion, “There is a haphazard chaos that this version has that I find completely charming. You can feel that (Hitchcock) is bringing all the tools of the trade that he acquired in England for one great romp.” —ZS
“The Prowler” (1951)
“A great – disturbing – and very ‘now’ Noir!” del Toro once tweeted of director Joseph Losey’s 1951 thriller. Starring Van Heflin and Evelyn Keyes, “The Prowler” tells the twisty tale of a woman who calls the police to her home when she hears something outside, only to fall in love with the responding officer. The sordid (if slowly paced) story to follow takes hard turns when you least expect it with a final act that’s satisfying in its unabashed bleakness. —AF
“The Seventh Seal” (1957)
“I am often surprised at how the humor and comedic elements in ‘The Seventh Seal’ seem to be overlooked in favor of its reputation as a quintessential ‘serious’ art film,” del Toro told Criterion. The existential drama from Ingmar Bergman is often cited as one of the greatest films ever made. —ZS
“The Uninvited” (1944)
Guillermo del Toro spoke to IGN during the press tour for “Crimson Peak” about why Lewis Allen’s 1944 horror movie “The Uninvited” is such a personal favorite. The film stars Ray Milland and Ruth Hussey as a brother and sister who purchase a house in Cornwall, England, that is plagued by paranormal events. “It’s one of the great movies that scared me when I was younger, but I showed it to my family now and they didn’t think it was scary,” del Toro said. “It very much uses ghosts the way I use ghosts, which is a big challenge. To use the ghosts as a scary thing that is evil is an easy thing. You just give background to the audience saying they are demonic or the specter of a mass murderer. If you treat ghosts with neutrality in order to make them characters, that’s so hard, and ‘The Uninvited’ does it such a beautiful way and better than I ever could. Watch that movie, it’s really good.” —ZS
“Throne of Blood” (1957)
Akira Kurosawa’s adaptation of William Shakespeare’s “Macbeth” clearly resonated with Guillermo del Toro, as he listed the Japanese film as his favorite movie in 2010. While there are no monsters to be found in the film, it’s not exactly realism either, and its foggy, mysterious setting helps keep the focus on the darkness that exists inside the human mind. Considering that, it’s not surprising that the “Nightmare Alley” director would enjoy it. —CZ
“Time Bandits” (1981)
Terry Gilliam’s 1981 cult fantasy movie “Time Bandits” kicked off his “Trilogy of Imagination,” which would continue with his legendary “Brazil” (1985) and end with the more polarizing “The Adventures of Baron Munchausen” (1988). Del Toro has a special love for “Time Bandits,” telling Criterion, “There is an incredible humor, an incredible cruelty, and an insatiable desire for fun and creativity that embodies, for me, what a kids’ movie should be like.” Her later added, “‘Time Bandits’ is a Roald Dahl–ian landmark to all fantasy films. Seeing ‘Time Bandits’ with my youngest daughter just two weeks ago, I was delighted when she laughed and rejoiced at the moment when Kevin’s parents explode into a cloud of smoke.” —ZS
“Unfaithfully Yours” (1948)
Del Toro has made no secret of his admiration for the films of Preston Sturges, calling the legendary screenwriter “a rara avis in the landscape of film.” In a 2010 list for Criterion, Del Toro praised two of Sturges’ films, “Sullivan’s Travels” and “Unfaithfully Yours.” Regarding “Sullivan’s Travels,” he said that in addition to being funny, the film “manages to encapsulate one of the most intimate reflections about the role of the filmmaker as entertainer.” —CZ
Danish filmmaking legend Carl Theodor Dreyer has inspired several major directors working today, from Lars von Trier to del Toro. Dreyer’s “Vampyr” is singled out by the “Pan’s Labyrinth” director for its dynamic camerawork from cinematographer Rudolph Maté. “The camera becomes a character in the film,” del toro told Criterion. “It’s more than a witness, it’s an active participant in the narrative, and therefore it’s deeply cinematic.” —ZS
Luis Buñuel’s Palme d’Or winner “Viridiana” “reconstructs (the director) in many ways,” del Toro told Criterion. “it reencounters his identity as a Spanish filmmaker and allows him to regain European prestige, and later allows him to shoot movies everywhere in the world. But it comes at a point when, I believe, he needed it the most.” —ZS
“West Side Story” (2021)
Guillermo del Toro was a big fan of Steven Spielberg’s “West Side Story” remake, to put it mildly. In a lengthy Twitter thread breaking down one of the film’s most complex sequences, he praised the film as “Heisenberg-level pure, uncut cinema.” He had particular praise for Spielberg’s advanced camera techniques, adding that most shots “require brain-surgery levels of precision.” —CZ
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