The 10 Best Italian Movies Of The 21st Century, According To Reddit

Split image showing posters for Malena and Lo Sono L'amore.

The Venice Film Festival is coming at the end of August and with it comes some of the greatest films in world cinema. Italian cinema has given the world some of the best films ever made. From the post-war neorealist films like The Bicycle Thief to the spaghetti westerns of the 1960s, cinematic gold has come out of the country.

Throughout the current century, Italy has continued to release films to critical and commercial success around the world. With the festival coming up soon, it leaves Italian cinema fans to consider the best films from Italy over the past two decades. While it may be difficult to name all of them, Reddit users have had their say in what films from the 21st century have held up the best.


La Grande Bellezza (The Great Beauty) (2013)

A character sitting in front of a large statue in 2013's The Great Beauty.

In a thread focused on Italian cinema, one Redditor asked what are some of the must-see Italian films of all time. While many stuck with films from the neorealist and spaghetti western eras, one Redditor, Alcofribass, mentioned a film from the past decade in La Grande Bellezza, directed by Paolo Sorrentino, a great director who film lovers should check out.

Alcofribass said of the film, that it is “a very good recent Italian movie too. I strongly recommend it!” And they would not be the only ones with this opinion. The film, which focuses on an older man who strives to become a well-known socialite, looking for a new purpose after the death of an ex-lover, was highly acclaimed when it came out, winning the Academy Award for Best Foreign Picture. The film also made back twice its budget, becoming a box office success.

Pane E Tulipani (Bread And Tulips) (2000)

A couple dancing on the poster for the film Pane E Tulipani.

Going a different direction, one Redditor named 2000s Pane e Tulipani as their Italian film of choice. The comedy, directed by Silvio Soldini, focuses on a housewife, played by Licia Magilietta, who is stranded on a family vacation and ends up finding love in Venice.

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User Jeffery G commented that the movie is “filmed beautifully in Venice with a great cast. Heartwarming, charming love story that invites watching again and again.” Other users agreed, with FrdrVa saying, “Yesss! A wonderful film! Think I’ll watch it again tonight, for the umpteenth time.”

Malena (2000)

Malena walking through the street.

Legendary James Bond girl, Monica Bellucci, stars in this coming-of-age film, directed by Giuseppe Tornatore, which focuses on a teenage boy during World War 2 who becomes enchanted by the beautiful Malena, played by Bellucci. The film, while receiving mixed reviews, was praised for its cinematography and score, getting nominated for Academy Awards in both categories.

Reddit user PJLondon, who had been discussing his favorite Italian films, said, “So much to love about this film. There’s a touch more tragedy here since it deals with the bittersweetness of most coming-of-age stories, but also the cruel hands that some people are dealt and the ways they can sometimes overcome them.”

Gomorrah (2008)

Three men talking in the film Gomorrah.

When asked in a thread about who they think of when they think of Italian cinema, one Reddit user, ParrotChild, mentioned their love of director Matteo Garrone, saying he has been their favorite director since 2008 and, “No appreciation for Matteo Garrone? I know someone else has mentioned him by name, and another via his great gangster film Gomorrah.”

While Gomorrah is also the namesake of a popular Italian TV show based on the same source material, the film is a look into the Casalesi clan of Camorra and is based on real events. Critics praised the film and its nonglamorous depiction of gangsters, while it continues to be ranked higher than American films such as Capone on Rotten Tomatoes. It made numerous top 10 lists for the year 2008.

The Hand Of God (2021)

The Italian family in The Hand of God

From Paolo Sorrentino, director of La Grande Bellezza, came this acclaimed film, which was an autobiographical account of his youth in Naples. The film, available on Netflix, was highly acclaimed and scored Sorrentino another Oscar nomination.

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Reddit user yell321 described their liking 0f the film with, “I loved The Hand of God, the most personal movie for Sorrentino.” Critics agreed, and the film was nominated for numerous awards around the world.

Martin Eden (2019)

Movie adaptation of Jack London's Martin Eden 2019

This film, directed by Pietro Marcello, is based on the famous 1909 novel of the same name. In it, the titular character falls in love with an upper-class woman and sets out to become a writer and join the ranks of the elite class.

Reddit user oh_orpheus mentioned watching the film by Marcello, his second feature film, and really enjoying it. “I watched Martin Eden a couple days ago and dug it a lot, looking forward to what Marcello does next.” The movie should be on every cinephile’s watch list, especially for fans of the director.

La Meglio Gioventu (The Best Of Youth) (2003)

Three characters carrying bags and walking in La Megilo Gioventu.

This film, directed by Marco Tullio Giordana, takes inspiration from classic Italian movies like The Leopard, as it follows multiple generations of a middle-class family who are living through historical events in post-war Italy.

Reddit user AcrossNowhere enjoyed the walk through Italian history, “I really, really like “La Meglio Gioventù.” It’s a journey in history.” The film was praised and compared to The Leopard when it was released, so those familiar with the classic title may enjoy this watch.

Il Capitale Umano (Human Capital) (2013)

A family posing outside a house in the film Il Capitale Umano.

This Paolo Virzi film was Italy’s nominee for the Best Foreign Picture at the Academy Awards in 2013. Taking place on Christmas Eve, Il Capitale Umano sees a man who ends up getting hit by a car, leading to two families of prominence having their fates changed as a result.

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Along with mentioning some other films, Reddit user Goldangia said they are a great example of modern Italian film, “They all cover a good range of the best Italian contemporary actors & directors, with some interesting screenplay and stories. Hope you enjoy them!”

Lo Sono L’amore (I Am Love) (2009)

Two characters walking out of a window in Lo Sono L'amore.

Before making Call Me By Your Name, one of the best coming-of-age-romantic dramas in recent years, this film, known as I Am Love in English, was the beginning of director Luca Guadagnino’s Desire trilogy. The film, which features Hollywood actors such as Tilda Swanson, follows a wife of a prominent family who begins a passionate affair with a cook. The film was nominated for awards for its design and was highly praised during its release.

Reddit user ReturnInRed referenced this, as well as 2019’s Pinocchio, as two very different films that they really loved from the modern era of Italian Cinema. “Quite different from one another, and set in different eras, for some variety. (Really you can’t go wrong at all with Guadagnino or Garrone, but not all of their work is set in Italy while also being mostly in Italian.”)

La Finestra Di Front (Facing Windows) (2003)

A couple embracing in the film La Finestra Di Fronte.

This 2003 film directed by Frezan Ozpetek focuses on a couple in a dwindling marriage who takes in an old man who does not remember who he is. This leads to the wife meeting another man and sexual tension between the two.

Reddit user Swinglepuss mentioned that classic films of Italian cinema are always great, but this is a more modern film they really enjoy. “If you want a modern movie (like the last ten years) that is really enjoyable, I’d suggest La Finestra di Fronte (Facing Windows).” The intriguing and steamy story is sure to satisfy any Italian cinephiles and is considered a must-watch for its genre.

Next: 10 Best Movies To Satisfy Your Italian Wanderlust

Author: Deann Hawkins