“The clouds have lifted” regarding the future of cinema recently. At least that’s how Martin Scorsese felt after seeing “THE LIBRARY,” which he raved about at the New York Film Critics Circle awards dinner in early January 2023.
That kind of praise means a lot. Scorsese is not only one of the greatest filmmakers of all time, but one of the greatest filmmakers. In recent years, he’s become known for movies — or, as he would say of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, “theme parks” — that he doesn’t enjoy. But the Oscar-winning director’s favorite films are as diverse in genre, release year and national origin as you’d imagine, from Ti West’s “Pearl” to Val Lewton’s horror films and the work of Senegalese master Djibril Diop Mambety. .
Of course, Scorsese was also an unwavering champion of film preservation and discovery, helping to restore many films through the Film Foundation and the World Cinema Project. He spoke at length about his personal favorites in his documentaries “A Personal Journey with Martin Scorsese Through American Films” (which, it should be noted, delivered most of the films below), “My Trip to Italy” and “Letter to Elia.” You can watch many of these films for free on the Filmalap website.
Scorsese’s knowledge of film history also permeates his filmmaking. Many have noticed that Joe Pesci’s Tommy DeVito shooting at the camera at the end of “Goodfellas” is a nod to the final shot of “The Great Train Robbery.” Meanwhile, Leonardo DiCaprio-starrer “Shutter Island” veers back to film noir, and even something like “The Wolf of Wall Street,” with its heady mix of depravity and moralism, seems to be influenced by his love for Cecil B. DeMille. There’s also “Hugo,” a historical fiction adaptation anchored in Georges Méliès’ transcendent turn-of-the-century silent short “A Trip to the Moon.”
What’s next for Scorsese? Based on David Grann’s 2017 non-fiction book of the same name, Murderers of the Flower Moon explores a series of murders in 1920s Oklahoma involving the Osage Nation and an oil magnate played by DiCaprio. After first working together on ‘Gangs of New York’, Scorsese is meeting the actor for the first time since their 2015 short film ‘The Audition’. “Killers of the Flower Moon” is expected in 2023.
Below is an incomplete collection of 56 of Scorsese’s favorite films, in no particular order. It was compiled from several years of interviews with the director, as well as clear cinematic references from Scorsese’s filmography.
With editorial contributions by Zack Sharf.