Sophia Loren is often celebrated as one of the most radiant and elegant screen actresses in Hollywood history. The talented Italian-born star has amassed nearly 100 big and small screen credits since making her first appearance in 1950. Loren has also been nominated for three Oscars in her illustrious career, including one win for her leading performance in the 1960 film, Two Women.
After a decade away from the big-screen, Loren made her long-awaited return to cinema with the 2020 release of The Life Ahead, for which she has earned rave reviews.
10 Houseboat (1958) 64%
Loren shares the screen with legendary leading man Cary Grant in Houseboat, a rom-com set on the titular houseboat off stationed in Washington D.C.
Grant plays Tom Winters, a widower and single father of three unruly children. When the children appoint European socialite Cinzia (Loren) to be their new nanny, Tom invites her to stay with them on an old rundown houseboat. Soon, Tom learns that Cinzia has zero skills as a housekeeper, but he falls in love with her quirky personality regardless.
9 Arabesque (1966) 69%
Directed by Stanley Donen, Arabesque is a wild comedic spy thriller in which cryptographer David Pollock (Gregory Peck) is tasked with deciphering ancient hieroglyphics in order to solve an international assassination plot.
Along his quest, David meets Yasmin (Loren), a double-crossing femme fatale whose lover is involved in the conspiratorial plot. As David works to discover her true motives, he’s forced to work with Yasmin and ends up falling for her in the process.
8 Operation Crossbow (1965) 71%
Also known as The Great Spy Mission, Operation Crossbow concerns Allied soldiers in WWII who make a daring attempt to destroy a Nazi rocket research and testing laboratory. In specific, the weapons include the V-1 flying bomb and V-2 rocket.
Loren plays Nora Van Ostamgen, the wife of a German operative impersonating an Air Force cadet in order to thwart the Allied mission. When Nora makes a selfish move to see her child, she jeopardizes the operation and ends up paying the ultimate price.
7 Yesterday, Today And Tomorrow (1964) 78%
Italian maestro Vittorio De Sica’s Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow is a romantic-comedy triptych that explores the daily lives of three disparate women living in Italy. Loren plays all three women in the film.
In the first tale entitled “Adelina in Naples,” Loren plays the title character and wife of Carmine Sbaratti. The two struggle to make ends meet by peddling cigarettes on the black market. When the property in Adelina’s name is repossessed and she faces imprisonment for failing to pay, she exploits a loophole in the legal system by remaining pregnant in order to avoid jail time.
6 Marriage Italian Style (1964) 80%
Vittorio De Seca’s Marriage Italian Style is often hailed as one of the most hilarious domestic rom-coms ever produced. Loren stars as Filumena, a destitute prostitute who finds her match in the rich and rakish Domenico (Marcello Mastroianni) in post-war Italy.
At first disinterested in Filumena, Domenico reluctantly invites the obsessed woman to live in a house with her old, senile mother. When Domenico plans to marry a store clerk 30 years his junior, Filumena does everything in her power to prevent the wedding and make Domenico love her instead.
5 Two Women (1960) 88%
Sophia Loren earned an Academy Award for her leading turn in Two Women, the third-straight film on the list directed by Vittorio De Seca. Loren plays Cesira in the film, a ravishing widow and single mother who leaves her grocery store in Rome behind to raise her 13-year-old daughter, Rosetta (Eleonora Brown).
As WWII rages on, the two women leave Rome and settle in Cesira’s hometown. Cesira ignores the romantic advances of a young suitor to raise her daughter before making the daring pilgrimage back to Rome at the height of the war.
4 El Cid (1961) 92%
Anthony Mann’s three-hour historical epic, El Cid follows the titular Spanish soldier aka Rodrigo Diaz de Vivar (Charlton Heston) as he makes a dogged stand to protect Spanish Christians from a Moorish attack.
Loren plays El Cid’s wife, Jimena, who out of her refusal to consummate the marriage, leaves to join a convent. Afterward, El Cid goes on to protect the deceased King Ferdinand’s children, as promised.
3 The Life Ahead (2020) 92%
According to Rotten Tomatoes, Loren’s third-best movie of her career happens to be her most recent. In The Life Ahead, Loren portrays Madame Rosa, a Holocaust survivor who owns a daycare on the Italian coast.
When Rosa is swindled on the street by a 12-year-old boy from Senegal named Momo (Ibrahima Gueye), she decides to take him into her daycare rather than turn him over to the police. Over time, Rosa and Momo form an unbreakable bond as they get to know each other and figure out Momo’s path forward.
2 The Fall Of The Roman Empire (1964) 100%
Three years after El Cid, Loren reunited with director Anthony Mann for another epic three-hour historical drama entitled The Fall of the Roman Empire. The story concerns the succession of Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius (Alec Guinness) in 180 AD.
Following Aurelius’ death, the empire is handed to his conniving son, Commodus (Christopher Plummer). Loren plays Lucilla, the son of Aurelius and brother of Commodus whose loyalties are torn between her family and her lover, Livius (Stephen Boyd), the man originally named heir to the throne.
1 A Special Day (1977) 100%
Ettore Scola’s A Special Day reunites Sophia Loren with her Marriage Italian Style costar Marcello Mastroianni to tell a far more heartwrenching dramatic story. The two stars play neighbors who forge a profound fleeting connection on one historical day.
With Adolf Hitler set to make his first visit to Italy in the 1930s, most of the countrymen plan to attend the holiday gathering. Despite her whole family attending, Antonietta (Loren) stays home to do household chores. In the same apartment complex resides Gabriele (Mastroianni), a disgraced radio journalist who also forgoes the event. When Antonietta’s pet bird goes missing, she meets Gabriele for the first time and they enjoy one magical day together.