Every Luca Guadagnino Film Ranked, From ‘I Am Love’ to ‘Challengers’

A curious thing happened when the first trailer for “Challengers” came out: People started getting really, really weird online about the suggestion that the three main characters — played by Zendaya, Mike Faist, and Josh O’Connor — have a threesome. It prompted memes and hand-wringing alike, as if this was the first time any actor in film history had ever pretended to engage in sex onscreen — never mind that the film ultimately doesn’t have an actual sex scene at all, instead withholding from the audience in order to build up the lingering sexual tension that eats away at all sides of its love triangle. The fervor around the possibility of sex in “Challengers” affirmed something that has been obvious for years now: Cinema, especially American cinema, is starved for films that sizzle with genuine sensuality.

So thank god that Luca Guadagnino is around. A hit or miss filmmaker, Guadagnino is nonetheless one of the few directors working today who prioritizes making seductive films about lust and carnal desire. The people in his films are beautiful, and they are definitely horny. The Italian director’s lush visuals bathe his actors in glowing light and glistening sweat that makes them look like gods, from Timothée Chalamet’s ingenue in queer romantic drama “Call Me By Your Name” to O’Connor and Faist’s slippery hunks in “Challengers.” Occasionally, those gorgeous visuals are all his films have to offer, but at his most successful, Guadagnino pairs them with his preoccupation with emotionally complex stories about the illogical, unknowable nature of love. And even at his weakest, Guadagnino is still supplying Hollywood with the type of ambitious, adult, and, yes, sexy dramas that have become scant at the cinema.

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Since fully breaking out as an auteur with 2017’s “Call Me By Your Name,” Guadagnino has become a bit notorious for overpromising when it comes to his output — at this point, there are likely more films he’s promised to make (a “Call Me By Your Name” sequel, a new “Lord of the Flies” adaptation, a biopic about Hollywood hustler Scotty Bowers, to name a few) than films he’s actually made. But he’s been productive of late, between “Challengers” and this year’s upcoming “Queer,” a romantic drama starring Daniel Craig as an American expat in Mexico City who becomes infatuated with a younger man; both movies share a screenwriter in Justin Kuritzkes. Add in news of a Julia Roberts thriller coming up next, and we’ll be seeing a lot more of Guadagnino’s films for a while longer.

Now that “Challengers” is out in theaters, IndieWire is taking stock of Guadagnino’s filmography to determine what measures up as the director’s best work. This ranking does not include the Italian filmmaker’s first two feature films “The Protagonists” and “Melissa P.,” which only released in his home country and are unavailable in the United States. It also doesn’t include some of his documentary work, including 2020’s “Salvatore: Shoemaker of Dreams.” With that said, read on for Guadagnino’s filmography, ranked.

With editorial contributions from David Ehrlich.

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