Our Top Picks for Streaming Italian Cinema

Dive into this list of self-indulgent favorites!

Films are listed in alphabetical order by director 

(click on name to read about the director)

Tommaso Agnese

My Name is Maya

The 2015 film follows 16-year-old Niki, who after experiencing a tragic family event, decides to take off with her 8-year-old sister. The two make their way through the streets of Rome in search of the freedom to make their own decisions and live as they want. 

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Filoteo Alberini

La Presa di Roma

The first Italian movie ever made premiered in 1905 and was directed by Filoteo Alberini, an inventor and pioneer whose vision paved the way for filmmakers all over the world. La Presa di Roma is a silent film that recounts the siege and capture of Rome by Italian troops in 1870. Made under the watchful eye of the Italian Ministry of War, it was the first film with a plot that told a specific story, and launched Italy's most successful silent film genre: the historical epic.

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Yuri Ancarini

The Challenge

An annual falconry competition that takes place in the vast desert of Qatar is at the center of this visual masterpiece. Director Yuri Ancarini combines the spectacular desert landscape of the Arabian Peninsula with a dramatic soundtrack and candid moments to give an intimate look into the world of falconers. 

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Roberto Andò

Le Confessioni

This 2016 political thriller blends money, power and politics to give a contemporary portrait of the effect of capitalism throughout the world and how a select few economists, lacking in moral ground, are worsening the lives of the poor for their own benefit. 

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Michelangelo Antonioni

Story of a Love Affair

Michelangelo Antonioni's first feature film in 1951 follows Enrico Fontana, a possessive husband who hires a private detective to follow his wife Paola (Lucia Bosè). His paranoia inadvertently sends Paola back into the arms of her ex-love. Rekindling this old romance makes Paola contemplate her options in erasing Enrico from the picture. 

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The Lady Without Camelias

Antonioni teamed up again with Lucia Bosè in his second feature film, which shows the rise to fame of a young actress named Clara. With beautiful shots of 1952 Rome, which seems like another world, the film is a detailed account of Clara’s life upon becoming a sought after actress and how fame plays a role in every chapter. It’s worth noting that French actor Alain Cuny is as handsome and charming as ever in the role of Lodi. He appears in the beginning and towards the end. My feeling is the movie would have been much better with him being a bigger part of the storyline because of his chemistry with Bosè.

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This 1960 masterpiece is the story of a missing person through the experiences of the people heading the search. Those people, the missing woman’s fiancé and best friend end up having their own affair. Antonioni's partner and muse Monica Vitti starred in the film and gave a powerful performance with a brilliant air of indifference.

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One can say that Antonioni reinvented himself with the making of Blow Up for which he earned two Oscar nominations. The film tells the story of a disenfranchised fashion photographer.  After taking a photograph in a London Park, he realizes something mysterious in the background, setting the stage for the 1966 drama, which co-stars Vanessa Redgrave. To this day, the film stirs up conversation and draws criticism due to its vast room for interpretation.  In addition to the Oscar nominations, Blow Up won the Golden Palm at the 1967 Cannes Film Festival as well as a nomination for Best English-Language Foreign Film at the 1967 Golden Globes.

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Marco Bellocchio

Dormant Beauty

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Fists in the Pocket

Click Here to Stream on The Criterion Channel

Francesca Bertini 

Assunta Spina 

A 1915 silent film with a melodic soundtrack and stunning shots of the Bay of Naples, filmmakers Francesca Bertini and Gustavo Serena created a timeless story of love, passion and envy. They also captured images of Naples that are surprising clear for being shot 100 years ago.

In addition to her leading role, Bertini contributed to the script and casting. “It had been my idea to wander around Naples taking ordinary people from the streets. Now everyone’s invented Neorealism! The real Neorealist film is Assunta Spina," recalled 90-year-old Bertini in a 1982 interview. 

Noteworthy is the cinematography, which was done by the senior Vittorio Storaro, father of the renowned cinematographer Vittorio Storaro known for his work on the films of today's great directors Bernardo Bertolucci and Francis Ford Coppola just to name a few.

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Francesco Bertolini (with Giuseppe De Liguoro and Adolfo Padovan)


This 1911 Italian production of the epic writings of Dante is one of the creepiest, most fascinating films I’ve ever seen. It helps if you are a fan of the grotesque-type genres such as horror or Giallo to truly appreciate this film. The art aspect of this production is what I appreciated the most. It’s like a canvas set into motion with the deep colors and ghoulish characters. I don’t recommend seeing this right before bedtime.

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Bernardo Bertolucci


This 5-hour epic follows two friends through five decades of struggling though the dividing forces in Italian society.

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Last Tango in Paris

Marlon Brando portrays a middle-aged American man with emotional baggage who has a passionate affair with a beautiful young French girl in Paris.

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Angela Bevilacqua

Il teatro dei ricordi 

Starring the great French actor, Jean Sorel, this 2014 short film is an enigmatic tale of a tormented woman looking for a temporary escape. The film opens in a dense forest as a young woman is walking around looking dazed and confused. She starts to run as if in a panic while a violin resounds. Shortly thereafter, she finds herself in an theater with Sorel who introduces himself simply as the guardian. 

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Laura Bispuri

Sworn Virgin

Staring Alba Rohrwacher, the 2015 film is based on the true stories of women in Albania who choose to live their lives as men in order to be granted certain freedoms.

Available to Stream on.. Amazon, Vudu, YouTube, iTunes & Google Play 

Daughter of Mine

Bispuri's second feature delves into the complex world of adoption as a mother develops a curiosity and affection for the child she gave up a decade ago. Set amid the majestic sea and mountains of Sardinia, Daughter of Mine is an emotional yet simple story of three women in conflict who share a strong bond of love. 

Available to Stream on.. Amazon, Vudu, YouTube & Google Play

Marco Bonfanti

The Man Without Gravity

A modern fairy tale about a weightless man, Oscar comes to into the world on a stormy night, in the hospital of a small town and immediately we understand that there is something extraordinary about him. He floats in the air, hovers in the lightest room of a balloon as his mother and grandmother look on in amazement. 

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Sergio Castellitto

Twice Born

Adapted from Margaret Mazzantini's novel and starring Penelope Cruz, the 2013 film is set in Sarajevo and retraces the story of Gemma and Diego, a couple whose relationship was torn apart because of war. Gemma returns to the city after escaping years earlier with her son, and the couple is forced to face the toll that war took on their lives, experiencing the power of love as it helps to redeem what was lost. 

Available to Stream for Free on Tubi, Vudu,

Also Available on YouTube, Google Play,  iTunes & Amazon

- Watch Sergio Castellitto as a lead actor in Sandra Nettlebeck's 2002 romantic comedy, Mostly Martha

The story of a headstrong chef who is trying to manage her mischievous 8-years-old niece, stressed out Martha gets a lesson on love and prioritizing when a handsome Italian colleague shows up.

Available to Stream on YouTube, Google Play, Vudu, iTunes & Amazon

Liliana Cavani

The Night Porter

Charlotte Rampling stars as a concentration camp survivor who comes face to face with her former abuser and lover after many years in this story of tortured, doomed love.

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Ripley's Game

John Malkovich stars as a former hitman enjoying his retirement in a northern Italian villa. When he seeks revenge on a neighbor, he is inadvertently forced back into the game.

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Starring the young and gorgeous Mickey Rourke and Helena Bonham Carter, Canavi's 1985 film Francesco is the story of St. Francis of Assisi told from the point-of-view of his followers.

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Cristina Comencini

Follow Your Heart

"To make mistakes is natural, but to leave without understanding them takes away the meaning of life." Virna Lisi stars as Olga in this 1996 film adapted from Susanna Tamaro's book, which was one of my favorite read of my 20's. A grandmother creates a journal recalling the past as she writes letters to her estranged granddaughter who she raised like her own child. Margherita Buy is angelic as a young Olga in a flashback that explains the roots of her emotional problems and provides answers to questions about the death of her daughter. I recommend reading the book first. It's a short but profound read.

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Latin Lover

This female ensemble comedy tells the story of four sisters coming to terms with secrets buried in the past. The 2015 film explores the consequences of infidelity and how the offspring of multiple marriages and affairs have to deal with the voids, resentment and in this case, sisters from other mothers. This was Virna Lisi's last film and she was exquisite.

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Something New

A hilarious and adorable romantic comedy starring two of Italy's most masterful contemporary actresses as they fall for the same young lover.

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Francesca Comencini

Luna Nera

This series about witches in 17th-century Italy is very easy to binge watch. Set amid gorgeous locations on the outskirts of Rome, a teenage midwife accused of witchcraft must choose between fulfilling her powerful destiny and a the man she loves. Several episodes are directed by Comencini.

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Saverio Costanzo

The Solitude of Prime Numbers

Based on Paolo Giordano’s novel by the same name, this 2010 film follows two lonely souls who connect through the pain they both experienced. The film premiered at the 67th Venice Film Festival and made its North American premiere at Lincoln Center’s annual series, Open Roads: New Italian cinema.

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My Brilliant Friend

Adapted from the novel by Elena Ferrante, the series follows a friendship between two women from when they were children to adulthood and all the tumultuous times that surround and shape them.

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Hungry Hearts

Starring Adam Driver and Alba Rohrwacher, this 2015 English language film is set in New York City and follows a young mother who becomes dangerously obsessive over the care of her baby.

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Alessio Cremonini

On My Skin (Sulla mia pelle)

This 2018 film is based on the heart-wrenching true story of Stefano Cucchi, a 30-year-old Roman man who was arrested in October of 2009 for possession of drugs. He subsequently suffered severe physical abuse while being denied medical care for his epilepsy during incarceration. Just one week later, he succumbed to the abuse. The coroner’s report showed massive dehydration and broken bones. Prison officials said he had fallen down a flight of stairs. In 2014, 11 people, including three prison officers, were cleared of all charges. What followed was mass protesting across Italy with people holding up signs of his severely bruised face and emaciated body. Alessandro Borghi gave an award-winning performance in the role of Cucchi.

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Emanuele Crialese


This 2011 film addresses Italy’s ongoing issue with clandestine immigrants, exploring the moral side of the issue when a Sicilian family helps save an immigrant mother and child from drowning and takes them into their home. Such practice is illegal and the family faces criminal charges. Articulately written and directed by Crialese, the film shows the growing problem of illegal immigration from multiple angles.

Available to Stream on Amazon, Vudu  and iTunes 

Salvo Cuccia

Détour De Seta 

This 2004 documentary is Salvo Cuccia's homage to the great Italian documentary filmmaker, Vittorio De Seta, who is known for his early films, which focus on the daily lives of Italy's poorest workers. They are strong images of real life situations which tell a story without narration. Cuccia presented the film with Martin Scorsese at the 2005 Tribeca Film Festival.

Click Here to Stream for Free on Culture Unplugged

Beyond Selinunte

Cuccia’s 2007 documentary tells the story of Vincenzo Tusa, a leader in preserving the archaeological site of an ancient Greek city of the 7th Century B.C. from turning into commercial property. Through a series of recollections, archival footage and breathtaking video shot by Cuccia's production team, we learn how Tusa reached his goal.

Click Here to Stream for Free on Culture Unplugged

Frank Zappa Summer '82: When Zappa Came to Sicily

Cuccia takes the children of Frank Zappa on a journey through their origins as he recounts the summer of 1982, when Zappa played a concert in Palermo that was halted halfway through.

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André Deed

The Mechanical Man (L'uomo meccanico)

This 1921 Italian science fiction film is one of the first science fiction films produced in Italy, and the first film that showed a battle between two robots. The original film was about 80 minutes in length. However, only about 26 minutes of footage remains.

The story begins with a scientist creating a device shaped like a man that can be remote-controlled by a machine. The mechanical man possess super-human speed and strength. The scientist is killed however by a gang of criminals, led by a woman named Mado, who wishes to get the instructions for building the mechanical man. The criminals are captured before they are able to get them and are brought to trial and condemned. Mado manages to escape and kidnaps the scientist's niece whom she forces to give her the instructions which she uses to build a mechanical man.

The mechanical man is used for a variety of crimes, controlled by Mado. The scientist's brother however is successful in creating a second mechanical man which he uses to combat the original. The two mechanical men fight each other in an opera house, which leads to the dramatic ending.

Click Here to Watch on Public Domain Movie

Giuseppe De Santis

Bitter Rice

One of the first films of the Neorealism film movement, Bitter Rice is a multi-layered story, which called on star Silvana Mangano's talent and sex appeal to portray a peasant girl who could manipulate anyone with her beauty. The story is set during the rice-planting season in northern Italy in the midst of Italy's economic challenges.

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Andrea De Sica


The grandson of Vittorio De Sica directed four out of the six episodes of this 2018 Netflix series. The story focuses on teenagers of an affluent Roman neighborhood who lead double lives in the dark, nighttime underworld of the Eternal City. I appreciate De Sica's unique point-of-view as someone who grew up as cinema royalty providing insight into what it’s like to be a privileged teen in Italy when we are used to seeing many Italian series set in crime-ridden neighborhoods.

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Vittorio De Sica

A Garibaldian in the Convent

Starring Leonardo Cortese, María Mercader and Carla Del Poggia, this 1942 comedy follows a grandmother who recalls the days of her youth when she rivalled another girl for the affections of a wounded Garibaldi soldier.

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Sciuscià (Shoeshine)

This 1946 neorealism classic follows two friends, Giuseppe and Pasquale who test-ride horses and dream of owning one themselves. They work on the streets of Rome as shoeshine boys in the depressed economy of Post-War Italy. The boys become the scapegoats of a complex theft and their lives are destroyed. The story is a heartbreaking testament to the financial distress Italians faced in the wake of World War II. The film received an Honorary Award at the Oscars and was the inspiration behind the category of the award for Best Foreign Language Film as it was the first foreign film to be acknowledged by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

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A Place for Lovers

Marcello Mastroianni and Faye Dunaway star in this 1968 film about a love affair between a terminally ill fashion designer and an Italian engineer. Mastroianni and Dunaway met on the set where they began a three year relationship.

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Pierfrancesco Diliberto (Pif)

The Mafia Only Kills in the Summer

A unique portrait of Palermo’s tormented mafia years during the early 1990s, this 2014 film is told from the point-of-view of the city’s residents. The story focuses on a child who looks up to the political leaders of his country until he begins to understand the corruption by witnessing the violence with his own eyes. 

Available to Stream on YouTube, Google Play and Vudu

Luigi Di Gianni


Magia Lucana

Winner of Best Documentary at the 19th Venice Film Festival, this 1958 documentary is Luigi Di Gianni's love letter to the land of his father's origins. Having first visited the region with his parents when he was a boy, the trip made an impression on the 9-year-old and created a deep affection that would one day inspire him to return. “I always remained very emotional about returning to this part of my homeland of Lucania,” he says. “It seemed like a different planet compared to Rome, where I lived. The tiring journey, the unpaved roads, the difficulties in getting there by bus: Everything remained etched in my memory and in my heart.”

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Grazie e Numeri

Shot in the region of Campania, this the fascinating 1962 documentary explores the relationship between the citizens of Naples and the “anime pezzentelle” interred in the Fontanelle Cemetery. For the most part, the corpses contained in the cemetery belonged to the victims of a plague that swept across Italy in 1656 and a cholera epidemic that struck in 1836. These bones eventually attracted the compassion of the living, who descended into the cemetery to establish a relationship with the souls who once animated them. 

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Tempo di raccolta (Harvest Time)

Di Gianni’s 1967 Tempo di raccolta (Harvest Time) documents a day in the life of Calabrese women as they work in the olive groves of the region. The simple but stunning beauty of those majestic centuries-old trees, Di Gianni’s choice of traditional music, and the play of sun and shadow during those autumn days turn the film into a visual and aural symphony. 

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Il male di San Donato (The Evil of San Donato) 

“The film takes place during the ceremony of the Feast of San Donato, protector of the village of Montesano in Salento, which back then was a part of Lecce,” Di Gianni explained. “During the event, people were seized by restlessness, epilepsy, powers of madness, because the saint, San Donato, is the protector of madmen and epileptics, and the village was invaded by this evil.” The film focuses on a number of possessed villagers who, with the help of their neighbors, struggle to overcome the powers that have taken hold of them. 

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Federico Fellini

Fred and Ginger

Set in Fellini’s Rome of the bizarre and misfits, this 1986 gem is a tender satire about two dancers, played by Giulietta Massina and Marcello Mastroianni, who made careers imitating Rogers and Astaire and are reunited on a tacky variety show. Mastroianni and Massina absolutely shine together.

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Matteo Garrone


Marcello Fonte and Edoardo Pesce give harrowing performances as a meek dog groomer and the bully that drives him over the edge in this suspenseful modern masterpiece.

Available to Stream on Amazon, Google Play, YouTube, Vudu and Hulu

Pietro Germi

Divorce Italian Style 

Ferdinando (Marcello Mastroianni) is married to Rosalia (Daniela Rocca), a nagging but well-meaning wife who won’t leave him alone. In search of some peace and quiet, he falls in love with the mild-mannered and charming Angela (Stefania Sandrelli), his first cousin through marriage. His feelings for the young girl become all consuming, and he daydreams about ways to kill Rosalia so that he can be with Angela. Finally, inspired by a local murder trial in which the wife, a victim of adultery, shot her husband to save her family’s honor, he concocts a plan to find a man to seduce his wife so that he can do the same. 

Click Here to Stream on Criterion Channel

Seduced and Abandoned

Germi’s masterpiece in the commedia all’italiana genre, this 1964 film opens with Agnese played by a gorgeous Sandrelli wearing a fitted black dress walking through the narrow streets of her Sicilian village. As she heads to confession, a Sicilian troubadour accompanied by a mandolin tells her story of giving in to lustful feelings for her sister’s fiancé, Peppino. Upon entering the confessional, she breaks down in tears, only to have the priest further shame her. Peppino announces that he doesn’t want to marry a girl who succumbs to temptation, even if it was with him, and flees. A chase ensues as the singing/narrator describes Agnese’s father’s determination to save the family’s honor. Peppino won’t budge, and the family lawyer comes up with a plan to shoot Peppino in a way that would be easily defended in court. 

Click Here to Stream on Criterion Channel

Alfredo, Alfredo

Dustin Hoffman portrays a humble guy who thinks he married the woman (Stefania Sandrelli) of his dreams until he has to live with her day in and day out. The 1972 Italian comedy won a David Di Donatello for Best Film and scored Hoffman Honorary Citizenship in the town of  Ascoli Piceno where it was shot. It is not available to stream as of now, but the DVD is available on Amazon.

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Mario Monicelli

The Big Deal on Madonna Street

Considered one of the great masterpieces of Italian cinema, the A-list cast of this 1958 film includes Claudia Cardinale, Vittorio Gassman, Marcello Mastroianni and Totò. A group of smalltime thieves concoct  a plan to rob a pawn shop in Rome. One of the funniest scenes takes place around a kitchen table when the group is distracted by a bland pot of pasta fagioli. 

Click Here to Stream on Criterion Channel

Risate di Gioia (The Passion Thief)

Starring two of Italy’s most beloved actors, Totò and Anna Magnani, the pair stars as broke actors on New Year’s Eve who set their sights on a doomed pickpocketer. Magnani gives an over the top, stunning performance. The film is not available to stream with English subtitles but worth watching for the chemistry between these two cinema legends. 

Click Here to Watch on YouTube (without English subtitles)

Nanni Moretti

We Have a Pope

It's labeled a comedy but it's really a reflection on the human condition and spirit, and how events of the past affect how we deal with the present.

This 2011 film, Habemus Papam (We Have a Pope), follows a newly elected pope who really doesn't want the job. When Cardinal Melville is unexpectedly chosen by his peers to lead the Catholic Church, the enormous responsibility brings old disappointments and dreams back to the surface. Just as he is about to step onto the world's stage to address his followers, the Pope has a panic attack and literally gets out of dodge. A renowned psychiatrist, played by Moretti, is called in to assess the situation. The film opens with archival footage of the Vatican's funeral for Pope John Paul II and then follows the cardinals into conclave as they ponder their choices for a new spiritual leader, opting for a compatriot who wasn't originally in the running.

Available to Stream on Amazon, Hulu, iTunes and YouTube

My Mother

Margherita Buy gives an exceptional performance as a film director working on an important project while dealing with the grave health of her mother. As her condition worsens, Buy's character tries to spend more time at the hospital with her brother (Nanni Moretti) while also dealing with a primadonna actor (John Turturro) all day at work. Her biggest challenge is keeping her emotions in check while juggling the demands of her life.

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Francesco Munzi

Black Souls

A dark tale set amidst organized crime in a small town in Calabria, the focus of this 2014 film is on the rivalry between two families and the generations it has destroyed. Adaped from Gioacchino Criaco’s novel by the same name, the story is one of desperation in which characters are left with a complete void of hope for the future. 

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Andrea Pallaoro


The troubled members of a family with deep-rooted emotional problems struggle to coexist in Andrea Pallaoro's 2013 debut feature film.

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Pier Paolo Pasolini

Mamma Roma

Pasolini’s anger towards the shallow urban life of the bourgeoise is reflected in this 1962 tragedy about a single mother desperately trying to provide for her son. The profound pain in the eyes of Pasolini's leading lady, Anna Magnani, are worth more than words can express. 

Click Here to Stream on Criterion Channel

The Gospel According to St. Matthew

Considered by the Vatican to be among the best film adaptations of one of the Gospels, the 1964 film was shot in the ancient southern Italian city of Matera and captures the stone structures of the city, which date back to the Neolithic era. Pasolini cast his mother as Mary and many locals as extras. 

Available to Stream on Amazon, iTunes, Vudu and YouTube

-The Criterion Channel is a great one-stop shop for Pasolini films. Click here to browse the titles.

Click here for a virtual tour of Roman sites relevant to Pasolini’s filmmaking and writing. The tour takes you through 50 addresses and dates accompanied by a map and photos of Pasolini’s life in Rome. The tour spans 25 years, beginning with his first day in Rome in 1950 to his last day, which took place on the day of his funeral in 1975. In between, you will visit his first job, homes and film locations. 

Francesco Patierno

Quel Giorno (That Day)

This compelling 10-minute film premiered at the 53rdVenice Film Festival and was shown at more than 50 film festivals worldwide. Adapted from a story by Renata di Maria, the 1996 short film simply but powerfully demonstrates sorrow and empathy as strangers react to a man leaning on a building sobbing.

Click Here to Stream for Free on YouTube

Pater Familias

This 2003 feature film follows a prisoner who settles his debts on a granted day of leave from jail. It premiered at the Berlin Film Festival and made its North American premiere later that year at Open Roads: New Italian Cinema. 

Click Here to Stream for Free on Postmodernissimo

Michele Placido

Vallanzasca - Gli angeli di male (Angel of Evil) is the story of Renato Vallanzasca, the notorious Milanese criminal responsible for robberies and homicides, which spanned from the 1970s to the mid-80s. Adapted from the biography written by Renato Vallanzasca himself, Carlo Bonini and Antonella D'Agostino, Vallanzasca - Gli angeli di male offers a rare glimpse into the personal and criminal life of one of Italy's most ruthless gangsters. 

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Paola Randi

Luna Nera

This series about witches in 17th-century Italy is very easy to binge watch. Set amid gorgeous locations on the outskirts of Rome, a teenage midwife accused of witchcraft must choose between fulfilling her powerful destiny and a the man she loves. Several episodes are directed by

Click Here to Stream on Netflix

Roberto Rossellini

Rome Open City

One of the most iconic films of Neorealism is set in Nazi occupied Rome in the wake of World War II. 

Available to Stream on.. Amazon, YouTube, Vudu, iTunes ,

Ettore Scola

Brutti, Sporchi e Cattivi

Ettore Scola's 1976 classic follows four generations of a family crowded together in a shantytown shack in the squalor of inner-city Rome. Patriarch-slumlord Giacinto has money from an accident settlement, but doesn’t share it with his family; when he starts spending it on a sex worker, his wife and sons plot against him.

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Paolo Sorrentino

Il Divo

Toni Servillo portrays the iconic Giulio Andreotti, a former Italian prime minister, fixture in Italian politics for nearly eight decades, and the subject of corruption investigations in the 1990s. Sorrentino and Servillo collaborated to present their take on the complicated topic of post-war Italian politics and succeeded in actually simplifying the subject, focusing on the career plateaus and valleys of one of its key players. Elected seven times as Italy's prime minister, Andreotti was known for his signature round-shouldered, slow moving stride and sense of strong inner energy.

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This Must Be the Place 

Sorrentino's 2011 film was his first feature film in English. Starring Sean Penn as Cheyenne, an aging punk rocker in search of the answers to a mystery surrounding his late father, the film explores life and love after as one heads into middle age. Frances McDormand gives a heartfelt performance as Cheyenne's supportive wife unafraid of giving a few lessons in tough love. The search takes Cheyenne on the highways and backroads of the United States, where he meets a whole host of characters, each of whom leads him one step closer to his destination, physically and emotionally speaking.

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La Grande Bellezza (The Great Beauty)

This 2013 Oscar winner boasts an A-list cast, which features Rome natives Carlo Verdone and Sabrina Ferilli, and tells the story of the Roman club underworld. Toni Servillo takes the lead role of Jep Gambardella, an uninspired writer who recounts his days as a young spectator who became seduced and intoxicated with power, finding himself caught in a web of superficiality, disillusionment and corruption. Sorrentino has described the contemporary masterpiece as "A film which probes the contradictions, the beauties, the scenes I have witnessed and the people I’ve met in Rome; a wonderful city, soothing yet at the same time, full of hidden dangers."

Available to Stream on Amazon, iTunes, Vudu, Google Play and YouTube


Sorrentino's 2015 Youth is his second English language film and premiered at the Cannes Film Festival that year. Starring Michael Caine and Harvey Keitel with Jane Fonda and Rachel Weisz, Youth tackles coming to terms with aging and dying, and living each moment with the fearlessness and enthusiasm of a younger version of yourself. 

Available to Stream on Amazon, Google Play, YouTube, iTunes and Vudu


Set in the mid-2000s Italy of Silvio Berlusconi, the egomaniac billionaire Prime Minister who presides over an empire of scandal and corruption, the film follows Sergio (Riccardo Scamarcio), an ambitious young hustler managing an escort service catering to the rich and powerful. Determined to move up in the world, Sergio sets his sights on the biggest client of all: Berlusconi (Toni Servillo), the disgraced businessman and ex-PM currently plotting his political comeback. As Berlusconi attempts to bribe his way back to power, Sergio devises a scheme to win the mogul’s attention.

Available on Amazon, Vudu and Hulu

Giuseppe Tornatore


Visit the countryside of Sicily in Giuseppe Tornatore's 2009 autobiographical epic, Baarìa. The film recounts three generations in the Sicilian village where he was born. Enrico Lo Verso takes on the role of Minicu, a character tracked across half a century age span. In a recent interview, Lo Verso told us that Minicu has been one of the most coveted roles of his career. To prepare for the part, he lived alone in a hut in the mountains of Sicily and reconnected with his Sicilian origins.

Click Here to Stream on Amazon

Marco Tullio Giordana

One Hundred Steps

Based on the true story of Peppino Impastato, the courageous anti-mafia activist killed by Cosa Nostra in 1978, this heartbreaking film tells the story of a young man’s plight to speak truth to power. After a long series of screen tests to find the perfect actor to play the role of Impastato, Luigi Maria Burruano, an actor already cast in the role of the protagonist's father, advised the director, Marco Tullio Giordana to test his nephew. Thoroughly impressed, Giordana offered Luigi Lo Cascio the part. It had to be destiny because it’s hard to imagine anyone else in this role. 

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Carlo Verdone

Iris Bond

Based on a fortuneteller's prediction, Romeo Spera, played by Verdone, decides that he and the enthusiastic dreamer, Iris Blond (Claudia Gerini) are destined for each other.

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Luchino Visconti

Il Gattopardo (The Leopard)

“We’re just human beings in a changing world.” Luchino Visconti’s 1963 three-hour  epic is set in Sicily during the political movement which led to the 1861 Unification of Italy. Featuring Claudia Cardinale, Alain Delon and Burt Lancaster, the balance of the suspenseful battle scenes and tender love story make it an emotional compelling story worthy of all the awards and acclaim it has received. Available to stream on Amazon, Google Play, iTunes, Vudu and YouTube

Lina Wertmüller 

Seven Beauties

Giancarlo Giannini is Pasqualino Seven-Beauties (nicknamed for his seven sisters) a petty thief who commits murder to save the honor of his family. He is sent away to a concentration camp where he witnesses the worst of humanity.

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Swept Away

Lina Wertmüller

This wonderfully politically incorrect film is the story of a socialite and workman who get stranded together on a deserted island in the Mediterranean.

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The Seduction of Mimi

Lina Wertmüller

The hilarious tale of a Sicilian worker, played by Giancarlo Giannini, who loses everything because he refuses to vote a mobster into political office. Then he falls in love.

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Blood Feud

Set in pre-World War II Sicily, boasting an incomparable cast, this 1978 film follows two men (Marcello Mastroianni) (Giancarlo Giannini) as they fall in love with the same woman (Sophia Loren).

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Lina Wertmüller: Behind the White Glasses

Documentary by Valerio Ruiz

A documentary about the life and career of the iconic director Lina Wertmüller with testimony from those who have worked with her and those who simply admire her.

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Luigi Zampa

Il Vigile

Starring two of Italy’s most revered maestros, Alberto Sordi and Vittorio De Sica, this 1960 classic of the commedia all’italiana genre made Italians laugh during a period when they would have otherwise cried. Sordi is a down on his luck traffic officer trying to deal with the red tape of the big city and a shady brother-in-law who enjoys putting him in his place.

Click Here to Watch on YouTube (without English subtitles)


Mid-Century Loves

The 1954 Mid-Century Loves is a 52-minute gem, consisting of five short tales directed by Pietro Germi, Mario Chiari, Roberto Rossellini, Antonio Pietrangeli and Glauco Pellegrini. Each is a decadent piece of cinematic perfection with detailed sets, regional music and spectacular cinematography. 

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Love in the City

Divided into six separate vignettes dedicated to love and heartbreak, and directed by Michelangelo Antonioni, Federico Fellini, Alberto Lattuada, Carlo Lizzani, Francesco Maselli, Dino Risi and Cesare Zavattini, Love in the City will transport you back to 1950s Rome. Each short film has a documentary-style feel and offers a rare glimpse into the socioeconomics of post-war Rome when these legendary directors were at the beginning of their careers. 

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- A Note from the Editor

When I started writing about Italian cinema in 2004, it was difficult to find contemporary Italian films online. With the explosion of VOD, that has changed. So I am making a compilation of my personal favorites from the Italian films that I have covered over the last 16 years. This list is a work in progress, so check back frequently for additions. I am currently working on rewatching and reviewing more Antonioni, Rossellini and Bellocchio films as well as adding descriptions for several others as you will see..

Although my focus is on contemporary cinema, I have also written about the classics and the pioneers. So this list truly embraces 100+ years of the great Italian moviemakers. I have seen each and every one of these films, so I can vouch for their quality. 

Please feel free to contact me on our social medium platforms to share your thoughts on any of these films. 

Thank you, buona visione!

- Jeannine