19 Best Italian Movies Of All Time (2020 Update)

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Updated on March 13, 2020 by Asher Fergusson

Italy is one of the world’s favorite travel destinations, and what better way to get to know Italy than to watch the best Italian movies of all time?! We’ve compiled a list of the top movie categories for Italy, including best movies set in Italy, best Italian romance movies, best Italian mafia movies, and more! If you have a true love of Italy or just want to get in the zone before your trip, check out this guide for all the best Italian films!

Best Italian Movies of All Time


1. Life is Beautiful

Life is Beautiful, starring Roberto Benigni, Nicoletta Braschi, and Giorgio Cantarini, is the story of a young Jewish Italian family set in Tuscany, Italy during the Holocaust. Using a combination of humor, imagination, and perseverance, the father is able to shield his son from the horrors of their situation by turning their time in the concentration camp into a game. This film is comedy, drama, and romance all rolled into one.

IMDb 8.6 | 1h 56min | 1997 | Italian; German; English

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2. Cinema Paradiso

Starring Philippe Noiret, Enzo Cannavale, and Antonella Attili, Cinema Paradiso is the story of a young boy who turns to cinema as an escape from everyday life in his war-ravaged Sicilian village. In this drama, the boy grows up to fall in love with a beautiful local woman and take over as the projectionist at the cinema. His mentor works to convince him to leave the small town to pursue his dream of filmmaking.

IMDb 8.5 | 2h 35min | 1988 | Italian (English subtitles)

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3. La Dolce Vita

La Dolce Vita is a dramatic comedy starring Marcello Mastroianni, Anita Ekberg, and Anouk Aimée, that details a week in the life of paparazzo journalist Marcello Rubini as he pursues women and goes about his business in Rome. While his girlfriend Emma has just suffered an overdose, he pursues an heiress and a moviestar, pausing for moments of self reflection.

IMDb 8.0 | 2h 54min | 1960 | Italian; English

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4. Il Postino

The biographical comedy/drama, Il Postino stars Massimo Troisi, Philippe Noiret, and Maria Grazia Cucinotta, and follows the story of a young Pablo Neruda who is exiled from Chile to a small Italian island for political reasons. Mario, an unemployed man from the village, is hired as a postman to deliver Neruda’s mail. As a result, Mario becomes Neruda’s student, learning the beauty of poetry in order to impress a local woman.

IMDb 7.7 | 1h 48min | 1994 | Italian; Spanish (English subtitles)

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5. The Godfather

Even though this classic is in English it had to be on the list! The Godfather (starring Marlon Brando, Al Pacino and James Caan) is among the most famous mafia movies ever made and is largely regarded as one of the best films of all time. This crime/ drama film takes place in 1940s New York City, The Godfather tells the story of the illustrious mafia family, the Corleones, and it’s patriarch’s passing of the family crime business to his hesitant son.

IMDb 9.2 | 2h 55min | 1972 | English

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Best movies set in Italy


1. Call Me By Your Name

Call Me By Your Name is set in 1980s Northern Italy. In this stunning backdrop, romance sparks between young Elio (played by Timothée Chalamet) and 24-year-old Oliver (played by Armie Hammer) who is in Italy spending the summer as a research assistant to Elio’s father (played by Michael Suhlbarg). The two experience forbidden love that will change their lives forever in this wonderful romantic drama.

IMDb 7.9 | 2h 12min | 2017 | English

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2. Two Women

Starring Sophia Loren, Jean-Paul Belmondo, and Raf Vallone, this drama set in Italy during World War II tells the tale of Cesira the widow and her young daughter as they flee Rome in an effort to put distance between themselves and the horrors of the war. They return to the village where Cesira was raised and are met by Michele, a young intellectual who falls in love with the widow.

IMDb 7.8 | 1h 41min | 1960 | Italian; German (English subtitles)

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3. The Talented Mr. Ripley

In the dramatic crime thriller The Talented Mr. Ripley, starring Matt Damon, Gwyneth Paltrow, and Jude Law, lowly con artist Tom Ripley is sent to Italy to retrieve the overindulgent millionaire playboy, Dickie Greenleaf, and return him home to New York. When his mission fails, he uses deceit and cunning as he takes extreme measures to take Greenleaf’s wealth and privilege for himself.

IMDb 7.4 | 2h 19min | 1999 | English

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Best Italian Romance Movies


1. Roman Holiday

Set in Rome, Italy, this romantic comedy starring Gregory Peck, Audrey Hepburn, and Eddie Albert tells the story of a young princess on a goodwill tour of Europe who evades her keepers and meets a handsome American news reporter living in Rome. When the reporter realizes who she is, he attempts to use her for his news story scoop, but finds himself falling in love with her.

IMDb 8.0 | 1h 58min | 1953 | English; Italian; German (English subtitles)

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2. Malena

The dramatic romantic comedy Malena is set against the backdrop of World War II Sicily, where a young boy, Renato, falls in love with the beautiful wartime widow, Malena, who is admired by every man and resented by every woman. The film details the coming of age experience for Renato as Malena teaches him life’s most important lessons. Malena stars Monica Bellucci, Giuseppe Sulfaro, and Luciano Federico.

IMDb 7.5 | 1h 48min | 2000 | Italian (English subtitles)

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3. Marriage Italian Style

Taking place in post World War II Italy, this dramatic romantic comedy tells the story of Domenico, a wealthy businessman, who begins a decades-long affair with the beautiful Filomena, a moneyless prostitute. Filomena secretly bores Domenico’s three children, and when she discovers his plans to marry another, takes extreme measures to keep him for herself. Marriage Italian Style stars Sophia Loren, Marcello Mastroianni, and Aldo Puglisi.

IMDb 7.5 | 1h 42min | 1964 | Italian (English subtitles)

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4. A Room with a View

In this romantic drama starring Maggie Smith, Helena Bonham Carter, and Denholm Elliott, a young Lucy Honeychurch and her older cousin embark on a tour of Italy, where they encounter the wild George Emerson who offers them his room with a view in Florence. Lucy returns to England and gets engaged to another man, but when George and Lucy’s paths cross again, she’ll have to choose between the two men.

IMDb 7.3 | 1h 57min | 1985 | English; Italian (English subtitles)

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Best Italian Mafia Movies


1. The Godfather: Part II

Set in 1920s New York City, The Godfather: Part II, starring Al Pacino, Robert De Niro, and Robert Duvall, continues the story of the Corleone family crime organization. This crime drama follows the life of young Italian immigrant Vito Corleone as he becomes acquainted with a life of crime and his son, Michael, as he endeavors to extend the family business to Las Vegas, Cuba, and Hollywood.

IMDb 9.0 | 3h 22min | 1974 | English

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2. Goodfellas

This biographical crime drama set in New York stars Robert De Niro, Ray Liotta, and Joe Pesci. Goodfellas follows the life of Henry Hill as he rises through the ranks of the local mob crime syndicate. He and his two partners enjoy the luxury and wealth that come with success in that line of business. Henry gets caught up in the drugs and lifestyle, which ultimately destroys his rise to glory.

IMDb 8.7 | 2h 26min | 1990 | English

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3. Casino

Casino is a crime drama set against the backdrop of mob-run Las Vegas. Starring Robert De Niro, Sharon Stone, and Joe Pesci, the film tells the story of mobster Sam “Ace” Rothstein as he moves to Las Vegas to take over the Tangiers Casino with his friend and mob enforcer, Nicky Santoro. Over time, both men are driven to ruin; one by his love for a beautiful hustler and the other by drugs and violence.

IMDb 8.2 | 2h 58min | 1995 | English

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Best Italian Horror Movie


Black Sunday

A horror film set in Italy, Black Sunday stars Barbara Steele, John Richardson, Andrea Checchi, and tells the story of an evil witch who returns from the dead. She seeks bloody revenge on the living by pursuing her beautiful descendant to whom she bears a strong resemblance, in order to take over her body so that she can live once more. Only the young girl’s brother and an attractive doctor will stand in her way.

IMDb 7.2 | 1h 27min | 1960 | Italian (English subtitles)

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Best Italian Christmas Movie


Babbo Natale non Viene da Nord

Babbo Natale non Viene da Nord is an Italian language comedy that takes place in Southern Italy and stars Maurizio Casagrande, Annalisa Scarrone, and Giampaolo Morelli. In the film, India, a talented but unknown singer, decides to spend Christmas with her mischievous and deceitful father in order to evade her failed relationships with men.

IMDb 5.2 | 1h 40min | 2015 | Italian (English subtitles)

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Best Italian Vampire Movie


Planet of the Vampires

Planet of the Vampires is a sci-fi horror film starring Barry Sullivan, Norma Bengell, and Ángel Aranda, set on a futuristic, faraway planet in outer space. When a spaceship of astronauts lands on the strange planet, they begin to turn on one another, influenced by the uncertainty of the planet and its unusual occupants. The astronauts realize that these mysterious creatures are desperately seeking a way out of their dying planet.

IMDb 6.3 | 1h 28min | 1965 | Italian; English

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Best Italian Zombie Movie


Nightmare City

In this horror/sci-fi/thriller film starring Hugo Stiglitz, Laura Trotter, and Maria Rosaria Omaggio, an airplane filled with bloodthirsty zombies who have been exposed to nuclear radiation lands in a nameless European city. The zombies make their way across the Italian countryside, biting and ravaging everything in their path. A reporter and his wife desperately try to escape the zombie attack as the military tries in vain to fight back.

IMDb 5.6 | 1h 28min | 1980 | Italian; Spanish (English subtitles)

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Conclusion


Italy and its language and culture have inspired an endless variety of wonderful films, perfect for anyone traveling to the country or anyone simply fascinated by this gorgeous place and its people. We hope this list was able to provide you with what you need to get started watching all the best Italian films!