Here’s a list of Italian films you MUST see with a few of our shameless feel-good favorites.
1. Big Night
This film is an incredible reminder of all the beautiful dishes that Italian culture has to offer. Italian immigrants, Primo (Tony Shalhoub) and Secondo (Stanley Tucci) are brothers and restaurant owners who set out to bring authentic Italian cuisine to New Jersey. However, their mastery of exquisite dishes, such as risotto, is overlooked. Primo and Secondo learn how to navigate their new world where the customers only seem to want spaghetti and meatballs.
2. La Dolce Vita (Sweet Life)
For any budding film enthusiast, you will need to add La Dolce Vida to your movie bucket list. Federico Fellini is famous for his aesthetically beautiful films which encompass all the romantic and stylish elements of Italy. A series of stories following a week in the life of a philandering paparazzo journalist living in Rome, this film doesn’t fall short of classic Fellini.
This film is a sem-autobiographical of the great Italian filmmaker Federico Fellini. The story takes viewers on a journey of his life through his intimate memories, wild imagination, and his glamorous lifestyle. Starring Daniel Day-Lewis, who plays the protagonist, Guido Contini, the movie plays a powerful homage to the mind of one of the most influential filmmakers of all time.
4. La Vita è Bella (Life is Beautiful)
La Vita e Bella is a heartwarming story of a true optimist and his love for life and family who live the tragedy of WWII. Guido is an Italian Jewish waiter who wins the heart of a beautiful schoolteacher, Nicoletta, with his humor and charm. The two marry and have a son, but their lives take an abrupt turn when Guido and his son are sent to a concentration camp. There, Guido brings light and hope to a place of darkness. You’ll smile, you’ll cry, and you’ll fall in love with Guido’s inspiring viewpoint of life.
5. Roman Holiday
At age 24, Audrey Hepburn gave this world this classic romantic-comedy set in Italy (can you guess which city?). Overwhelmed by her suffocating schedule, touring European princess Ann takes off for a night while in Rome, but her plans go awry. After taking a sedative, she falls asleep on a park bench and is found by an American reporter, Joe Bradley, who safely houses her for the night. Afterward, Joe finds out Ann’s regal identity and bets his editor he can get an exclusive interview with her, but romance soon gets in the way.
6. La Ciociara (Two Women)
How could we not put the Italian goddess, Sophia Loren, on this list? This intense film tells the story of a widow, Cesira, and her daughter, who fight to survive the horrors of WWII. Loren went on to win an Oscar for the role of Cesira, given her powerful performance for an incredibly complicated character.
Filmed in 2001, but set in 1941, this drama recounts the memories of a boy who lives in the sleepy and conservative town of Sicily. Suddenly, the community is shaken up by a beautiful and mysterious woman who becomes the obsession of every man and envy of every woman, Malèna.
This American Crime film directed by Martin Scorsese follows a young man who grows up in the mob and works very hard to advance himself through the ranks. He enjoys his life of money and luxury but is oblivious to the horror that he causes. Drug addiction and a few mistakes impede his climb to the top.
While this film is not exactly the stuff of Fellini, there’s no denying that’s it’s a classic feel-good movie with an Italian-American at its core. Loretta Castorini, an Italian-American bookkeeper and widow from Brooklyn, New York, finds herself in a difficult situation when she falls for the brother of the man she has agreed to marry.
10. Cinema Paradiso
Made for a true film-lover. Cinema Paradiso is a beautiful telling of A filmmaker recalls his childhood in the war-torn village of Sicily. He recalls falling in love with the pictures, his meaningful friendship with the cinema’s projectionist, and falling in love.
11. My Cousin Vinny
Last, but not least, my cousin Vinny. Iconic.