22 movies made in Italy: my guide to the best movies for Italian language learners
Why is learning Italian through movies a great idea?
Movies are an easy and effective way to recreate the Italian immersion experience at your home.
Exposure to the real language will do wonders for your overall language learning journey.
Not to mention that watching Italian films will provide you with a wealth of knowledge about all things Italian.
And no, it won’t be just a language-centered experience. Instead, it will help you
- Get used to the natural speed of Italian conversation and Italian filler words
- Get to know Italy, and its vast variety of scenarios and landscapes.
- Learn about the film industry in Italy
Is watching movies in Italian for every level?
Yes! A movie is an enriching cultural experience. That’s why you should not wait until you have an advanced level to start watching films in Italian.
You can use movies to learn Italian at any stage of your learning journey.
Let’s debunk the myth that to watch a movie in Italian you need to have an advanced level, otherwise it won’t work.
You can use Italian movies to learn Italian at any stage of your learning process. How?
If you are a beginner learner of Italian, you can watch an Italian movie with English subtitles. It doesn’t matter if you won’t get most of them. Still, you will become familiar with the sounds, the Italian settings, and the speed of conversation.
Intermediate Italian learners should watch movies in Italian with Italian subtitles. At this point in your learning journey, you can certainly read a lot, but still struggle to follow a natural conversation. You can use Italian movies to improve your Italian because they will help you synchronize the sounds with the words. Amazing progress will happen. Guarantee.
Get rid of the Italian subtitles and enjoy the show.
Here is my personal list of the best Italian movies of the last 30 years.
E’ STATA LA MANO DI DIO (2021)
La mano di dio, is the latest film of the Italian director Paolo Sorrentino (who also directed La Grande Bellezza). The film follows the director’s adolescence in Naples, as well as the events that shaped his desire to become a filmmaker. What’s the hand of god that has to do with it? The hand of God alludes to a soccer champion (Diego Armando Maradona) who was playing in Naples at the time and who plays a significant role in the protagonist’s story.
The movie is available on Netflix too and is candidate for the Oscars (foreign section) of 2022.
IL TRADITORE (2019)
CALL ME BY YOUR NAME (2017)
The film is set in northern Italy in 1983 and tells the love story of Elio, a 17-year-old Italian boy, and Oliver, an American student. He was nominated for three Golden Globes and four Academy Awards in 2018. IMDb
The movie is available on Netflix too.
IN GUERRA PER AMORE (2016)
Alert for my students – this is one of my favorite Italian movies ever!
Arturo is a young Sicilian man who emigrated to America and found work as a waiter at Alfredo’s restaurant. Flora Alfredo’s niece, is already engaged to Carmelo, a mafia boss’s son. The young girl has strong feelings for Arturo but must suppress them to avoid problems with her uncle. In reality, Alfredo must travel to Sicily to ask his father for Flora’s hand. Arturo, eager to be near his beloved, accepts the proposal and returns to his native land. Due to a series of bizarre events, Arturo joined the US army and was sent to Sicily. Arturo’s quest to find Flora’s father leads him to an island besieged by soldiers and criminals. – IMDb
The movie is available on Netflix too.
NUOVO CINEMA PARADISO (1988)
A filmmaker recalls his childhood when falling in love with the pictures at the cinema in his home village and forms a deep friendship with the cinema’s projectionist. – IMDb
In WW2, an Italian Army unit of misfits occupies an isolated non-strategic Greek island for the duration of the war. IMBd
IL POSTINO (1994)
The Postman – DRAMA/COMEDY
Il Postino movingly explores themes of love and friendship through sensitively depicted — and beautifully acted — relationships in 1950s Italy.– Rotten Tomatoes
MIO FRATELLO È FIGLIO UNICO
My Brother is an Only Child – DRAMA
Two brothers come of age in a small Italian town in the ’60s and ’70s. – IMBd
LA MEGLIO GIOVENTÙ (2003)
The Best Youth – DRAMA/DOCUMENTARY
An Italian epic that follows the lives of two brothers, from the 1960s to the 2000s – IMBd
I CENTOPASSI (2000)
One Hundred Steps – DRAMA
This is the story of Peppino Impastato, a political activist who opposed the Mafia in Sicily. The story takes place in the small town in the province of Palermo, the home town of the Impastato family. One hundred steps were the number of steps it took to get from the Impastato house to the house of the Mafia boss. Wikipedia
IL CAPITALE UMANO (2013)
The Human Capital – DRAMA
The destinies of two families are irrevocably tied together after a cyclist is hit off the road by a jeep in the night before Christmas Eve. – IMBd
The movies is available on Netflix too
LA GRANDE BELLEZZA (2013)
The Great Beauty – DRAMA
Jep Gambardella has seduced his way through the lavish nightlife of Rome for decades, but after his 65th birthday and a shock from the past, Jep looks past the nightclubs and parties to find a timeless landscape of absurd, exquisite beauty. – IMBd
The movies is available on Netflix too
VENUTO AL MONDO (2012)
Twice born – DRAMA
A mother brings her teenage son to Sarajevo, where his father died in the Bosnian conflict years ago. – IMBd
LA MAFIA UCCIDE SOLO D’ESTATE (2013)
The Mafia Kills Only in Summer – DRAMA/COMEDY
The Italian Senate President and former anti-mafia magistrate Pietro Grasso referred to this film as the best film work on Sicilian Mafia ever made. It was awarded best comedy film at the 27th European Film Awards. – Wikipedia
LA LEGGENDA DEL PIANISTA SULL’OCEANO (1998)
The Legend of the Pianist on the Ocean – DRAMA
It was Tornatore’s first English-language film. The film is inspired by Novecento, a monologue by Alessandro Baricco. The film was nominated for a variety of awards worldwide, winning several for its soundtrack. – Wikipedia
LA VITA È BELLA (1996)
Life is Beautiful – COMEDY/DRAMY
When an open-minded Jewish librarian and his son become victims of the Holocaust, he uses a perfect mixture of will, humour, and imagination to protect his son from the dangers around their camp. – IMBd
PERFETTI SCONOSCIUTI (2016)
Perfect Strangers – COMEDY
The film was a critical and commercial success, winning the David di Donatello in the Best Film Category and grossing more than €16 million in Italy. It has been remade in many countries including Spain (, Mexico, South Korea, France, Hungary, Greece, China, and Russia. – Wikipedia
IL DIVO (2008)
The Celebrity – BIOGRAPHY
The film presents the story of Giulio Andreotti, a seven-time prime minister of Italy notorious for his alleged ties to the Mafia. The narration covers Andreotti’s seventh election in 1992, his failed bid for the presidency of the Italian Republic, the Tangentopoli bribe scandal and his trial in 1995. – Wikipedia
SATURNO CONTRO (2007)
Saturn in Opposition – DRAMA
LA PAZZA GIOIA (2016)
Like Crazy – COMEDY/DRAMA
It tells the story of two women from different backgrounds who become friends while being treated at a mental institution. – Wikipedia
CATERINA VA IN CITTA’ (2003)
Caterina in the Big City – COMEDY/DRAMA
Caterina, forced to leave her small town at the age of thirteen, faces the complications of living in the big metropoly of Rome – IMDb
NOTTE PRIMA DEGLI ESAMI (2003)
Night Before the exams – COMEDY
It describes the lives of two groups of Italian teenagers during the preparation of the esame di maturità (the final exam of Italian high school). It is set in Rome during the year 1989.
Do you enjoy watching videos to learn Italian?
Lingopie is a Netflix-like platform that allows you to improve your Italian by watching TV shows, documentaries, and vlogs (separate by genre and level). They offer a beginner-friendly option too.