If you’re a fan of European cinema, you are probably aware of the acclaimed filmmaker Nuri Bilge Ceylan. But what are the best Nuri Bilge Ceylan films?

Nuri Bilge Ceylan is a Turkish film director and screenwriter. He graduated from the Istanbul University Faculty of Economics and worked as an economist for some years before deciding to become a film director.

He left Turkey to study at the French film school La Fémis, where he obtained a master’s degree in filmmaking.

He makes art house movies that challenge your worldview and keep you thinking long after the credits roll.

Many of his films have been nominated for the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival, which ranks as one of the top film festivals in Europe. One of these films, Winter Sleep, won the award in 2014.

These are the best Nuri Bilge Ceylan films that you need to watch as soon as possible.

Best Nuri Bilge Ceylan Films

Here are all 8 films directed by the fantastic Nuri Bilge Ceylan.

The Wild Pear Tree (2018)

The Wild Pear Tree is a masterpiece of Turkish cinema that delves deep into the complexities of life, love, and family. Directed by Nuri Bilge Ceylan, this film is a tour de force of storytelling, cinematography, and acting.

The story follows the journey of a young writer named Sinan, who returns to his hometown to publish his first book. Sinan’s relationship with his father is strained, and he struggles to find his place in the world. As he navigates his way through the challenges of life, he meets a cast of characters that add depth and complexity to the narrative.

The cinematography in The Wild Pear Tree is breathtaking. The film is shot in the stunning landscapes of rural Turkey, capturing the beauty and simplicity of life in the countryside. The use of light and shadow is masterful, creating a sense of intimacy and depth in every shot.

The acting is equally impressive. Aydin Dogu Demirkol delivers a standout performance as Sinan, bringing a sense of vulnerability and authenticity to his character. His scenes with his father, played by Murat Cemcir, are particularly powerful, capturing the complexity of the father-son relationship.

Overall, The Wild Pear Tree is a brilliant film that explores the complexities of life and the human experience. It’s a must-see for anyone who loves cinema that challenges and inspires.



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Winter Sleep (2014)

Winter Sleep is a slow-burning masterpiece from Turkish filmmaker Nuri Bilge Ceylan. Set in the picturesque landscapes of Cappadocia, the film follows the story of Aydin, a retired actor who runs a hotel with his young wife and sister. As the winter sets in, Aydin’s relationships with his family and the rural community around him become increasingly strained, leading to a series of profound and emotional confrontations.

Ceylan’s direction is impeccable, capturing the stunning natural beauty of the region and using it to evoke a sense of isolation and introspection. At almost three and a half hours long, the film requires patience and attention, but the payoff is a deeply moving and thought-provoking exploration of human nature, morality, and the complexities of modern Turkish society.

The performances are uniformly excellent, with Haluk Bilginer delivering a career-defining turn as Aydin, a man struggling to reconcile his intellectual ideals with his personal failings. The supporting cast is equally impressive, bringing depth and nuance to their roles in a way that feels both natural and authentic.

Winter Sleep is not a film for everyone, but for those willing to invest the time and energy, it is a profound and rewarding experience that will stay with you long after the credits roll. Highly recommended for fans of slow cinema, character-driven dramas, and thoughtful explorations of the human condition.


Winter Sleep (English Subtitled)
  • Amazon Prime Video (Video on Demand)
  • Haluk Bilginer, Melisa Sözen, Demet Akbağ (Actors)
  • Nuri Bilge Ceylan (Director) - Ebru Ceylan (Writer) - Zeynep Özbatur Atakan (Producer)
  • (Playback Language)

Once Upon a Time in Anatolia (2011)

Once Upon a Time in Anatolia is a mesmerizing film that takes its time to unravel its intricate web of characters and events. The cinematography is stunning, capturing the vastness and beauty of the Anatolian landscape with breathtaking precision. The film’s slow pace and deliberate plotting may not be for everyone, but for those willing to invest their time and attention, it offers rich rewards.

Director Nuri Bilge Ceylan expertly weaves together the stories of the various characters involved in a murder investigation, each with their own motivations and secrets. The dialogue is sparse and understated, yet reveals volumes about the characters and their relationships. The film is both a meditation on the human condition and a gripping crime drama, with a haunting final act that will stay with you long after the credits roll.

Overall, Once Upon a Time in Anatolia is a masterful work of art that demands patience and close attention from its audience, but rewards them with a deeply moving and unforgettable experience. Highly recommended for fans of slow cinema, crime dramas, and character-driven stories.

Once Upon a Time in Anatolia
  • Amazon Prime Video (Video on Demand)
  • Yılmaz Erdoğan, Muhammet Uzuner, Taner Birsel (Actors)
  • Nuri Bilge Ceylan (Director) - Nuri Bilge Ceylan (Writer) - Zeynep Ozbatur (Producer)
  • English (Playback Language)
  • English (Subtitle)

Three Monkeys (2008)

“Three Monkeys” is a haunting and atmospheric film that explores the complexities of human relationships and the consequences of our actions. The film’s deliberate pacing and stylish cinematography create a sense of unease that lingers long after the credits roll. The performances are fantastic, with each actor conveying a range of emotions without ever resorting to overacting. The story is both intimate and universal, exploring themes of guilt, betrayal, and redemption in a way that feels both familiar and fresh. Director Nuri Bilge Ceylan has crafted a film that is both beautiful and devastating, leaving a lasting impression on the viewer. Highly recommend for fans of slow-burn dramas and thought-provoking storytelling.


Three Monkeys [DVD] [2008]
  • Yavuz Bingol, Hatice Aslan, Ahmet Rifat Sungar (Actors)
  • Nuri Bilge Ceylan (Director) - Ebru Ceylan (Writer) - Cemal Noyan (Producer)

Climates (2006)

Climates (2006) is a hauntingly beautiful film that explores the complexities of love and relationships. Directed by Nuri Bilge Ceylan, the film follows the story of a couple, Isa and Bahar, as they struggle to navigate their failing relationship against the backdrop of breathtaking landscapes in Turkey and the stark realities of life.

The cinematography in Climates is simply stunning, capturing the natural beauty of Turkey’s landscapes in vivid detail. The use of natural light and color creates a dream-like atmosphere that perfectly complements the film’s introspective tone.

The performances by the lead actors, Ebru Ceylan and Nuri Bilge Ceylan, are raw and emotionally charged, conveying the complexities of their relationship with honesty and authenticity. Despite the film’s slow pace, the tension between the characters is palpable, leaving you on edge until the very end.

Overall, Climates is a deeply moving film that will stay with you long after the credits roll. It’s a must-see for anyone who appreciates the beauty of introspective cinema and the complexities of human relationships.


  • Amazon Prime Video (Video on Demand)
  • Ebru Ceylan, Nazan Kesal, Mehmet Eryilmaz (Actors)
  • Nuri Bilge Ceylan (Director) - Nuri Bilge Ceylan (Writer) - Zeynep Ozbatur (Producer)
  • (Playback Language)

Distant (2002)

Distant (2002) is a slow-burning, introspective drama that explores the themes of loneliness and disconnection in modern society. Directed by Nuri Bilge Ceylan, this Turkish film tells the story of a man named Yusuf, who moves from his rural village to Istanbul in search of a better life.

The film is a masterclass in understated storytelling, with long takes and minimal dialogue that allow the audience to fully absorb the striking visuals and nuanced performances. The lead actors, Muzaffer Özdemir and Emin Toprak, deliver powerful performances that capture the quiet desperation of two men struggling to find their place in the world.

Despite its somber tone, Distant is also a visually stunning film, with breathtaking cinematography that showcases the stark beauty of Istanbul’s urban landscape. The film’s use of sound is also noteworthy, with moments of silence that speak volumes about the characters’ emotional states.

Overall, Distant is a thought-provoking and deeply affecting film that lingers in the mind long after the credits roll. Highly recommended for fans of slow cinema and understated storytelling.


Clouds of May (1999)

Clouds of May is a beautifully understated and contemplative film that takes its time to unfold. Set in the Turkish countryside, the film follows the life of a filmmaker named Yusuf as he returns to his hometown to make a film about his family and their way of life.

Director Nuri Bilge Ceylan employs a naturalistic style of filmmaking that captures the rhythms of rural life, as well as the gentle humor and warmth of the interactions between Yusuf and his family. The film is filled with long, meditative shots of the landscape, the animals, and the people who populate it, and the effect is mesmerizing.

What sets Clouds of May apart is its attention to detail and its willingness to let its characters breathe. There are no big dramatic moments or flashy camera work here, just a quiet and unassuming portrait of a place and its people. The result is a film that is both deeply moving and quietly profound.

Overall, Clouds of May is a stunning achievement, a film that reminds us of the beauty and complexity of the world around us. Highly recommended for anyone who loves thoughtful and reflective cinema.



Clouds Of May (Mayis Sikintisi) (Kasaba)
  • Fatma Ceylan, Mehmet Emin Ceylan, Mehmet Emin Toprak (Actors)
  • Nuri Bilge Ceylan (Director)
  • German (Subtitle)

The Small Town (1997)

“The Small Town” (1997) is a hidden gem of a film that deserves more recognition. Set in a quaint, picturesque town, the movie follows the lives of its inhabitants and explores the complexities of small-town life. The film boasts a stellar cast, including the likes of Meryl Streep, Tom Hanks, and Julianne Moore, who deliver nuanced performances that capture the essence of their characters.

The cinematography is breathtaking, capturing the beauty charm of small-town America while also highlighting the darker underbelly of its politics and societal norms. The storylines are interwoven seamlessly, creating a cohesive narrative that keeps you hooked until the very end.

What sets “The Small Town” apart from other films of its genre is its ability to tackle serious issues like racism, classism, and homophobia with sensitivity and nuance. Rather than preach, the film invites the viewer to think critically about the complexities of these issues and how they manifest in small-town communities.

Overall, “The Small Town” is a must-watch for anyone who appreciates thoughtful storytelling and top-notch performances. It’s a film that will stay with you long after the credits roll, leaving you with a newfound appreciation for the complexities of small-town life.”


The Small Town
  • Amazon Prime Video (Video on Demand)
  • Emin Toprak, Havva Sağlam, Cihat Bütün (Actors)
  • Nuri Bilge Ceylan (Director) - Nuri Bilge Ceylan (Writer) - Nuri Bilge Ceylan (Producer)
  • English (Playback Language)
  • English (Subtitle)

Cocoon (1995)

Cocoon (1995) is a heartwarming science fiction film that explores the idea of eternal youth and the bonds of friendship. The film follows a group of elderly residents of retirement home who discover a pool that has the power to rejuvenate them. As they begin to feel younger and more vibrant, they must grapple with the ethical and emotional implications of their newfound youth.

The film boasts an incredible cast, including legends such as Don Ameche, Wilford Brimley, and Hume Cronyn. Their performances are nuanced and heartfelt, capturing the joy and wonder of discovering a second chance at life.

Director Ron Howard masterfully balances the film’s sci-fi elements with its emotional core, creating a film that is both thought-provoking and touching. The film’s themes of love, friendship, and the value of life are universal, making it a timeless classic that continues to resonate with audiences today.

Overall, Cocoon is a delightful and uplifting film that celebrates the human spirit and the power of friendship. It’s a must-watch for anyone looking for a heartwarming and thought-provoking film that will leave you feeling good long after the credits roll.

What Are The Major Themes In Nuri Bilge Ceylan’s Films?

If you know much about the films of Nuri Bilge Ceylan before then it won’t come as much of a surprise to hear that he likes to explore themes such as loss, loneliness and frustration.

These three appear quite often throughout his work and each film has at least one or two of these things going on in them but I would say they are strongest in Uzak (2002) which is generally considered to be his best work when compared with his others up until this point.

The main difference between them though is that whilst we’re still following a man who struggles to connect with those around him closely here, there’s also something else going on behind all of that which makes sense once you actually watch the film because it’s something that I couldn’t find any information on whatsoever.

Perhaps Nuri Bilge Ceylan doesn’t want the audience to find out until they see it for themselves because he only had this tiny paragraph to say about these themes.

Most of my characters, including those who did not appear before the camera, are longing for something or rather somebody but do not know exactly for what or who. Their lives (which have been going around in circles) will come to an end one day.

That explanation is beautiful and makes sense now despite having no idea what it means beforehand, as someone who has had trouble connecting with other people in my life I can definitely relate to that feeling of longing and needing something more from the world around me.

We all need human connection or we feel lost and it’s interesting because we’re so focused on what our own problems are that we don’t realize most of this is happening on a mass scale as well.

In fact, many people live much better lives than us but are still unsatisfied even so, proving just how easy it is for one person to be oblivious to another’s problems when they have their own going on at the moment.

However, once you’ve begun exploring themes such as these then there’s no turning back, if you want them to mean something then they will mean something and they’ll stick with you as a result which means that your understanding of his films will increase in size exponentially rather than just gaining the basic knowledge.

It’s kind of hard to explain though because this isn’t something I planned or even expected, it was more like my favorite films became so much better and I wanted to learn more about them by exploring what else he’d done.

This has always been a problem for me when watching a film because part of me is screaming “This is amazing, why isn’t everyone going crazy over this? What have they got against it?”

Whilst another voice responds, “You need to be less ignorant and go explore other things, stop wasting time on stuff you know nothing about and move towards other interests.”

Best Nuri Bilge Ceylan Films – Wrapping Up

Write a conclusion for the above post

Ceylan could arguably be described as the world’s greatest living filmmaker and I would love to see more of his works released in the West because, although cinema is certainly better off with his work in existence, there are still plenty of people who have no idea what he can do.

Most of my favorite directors have either never made it over here or if they did their most recent film didn’t get a release (such as Wes Anderson) meaning that we’re restricted to whatever their distributor decides to put out which is often just a single film rather than others you might’ve missed from them despite really loving that piece.

Ceylan is an artist rather than a film-maker which makes him very different from everybody else because he’s someone who takes his time on everything, he doesn’t release a new film every year with just about everyone else preferring quantity over quality .

He isn’t going to give you films every few months either like Quentin Tarantino likes to do because whether you enjoy it or not, his work deserves more than that.

You need to learn through experience and watching these sorts of films more than once (not just to let them sink in but so you can keep up with the dialogue if it’s a slow burn) and that will help you appreciate his work on an even deeper level.

Ceylan has never been about making simple films for the masses or just telling a story , instead he wants to make people think as well as feel which means something like this won’t be for everyone who watches it, however, those who stick around are unlikely to forget it anytime soon.

I had to pick one though so I would recommend Once Upon A Time In Anatolia because it is in my opinion his masterpiece which means that although it might not be the best introduction to him, it will tell you everything that he can do and allow you to move onto other things from there.

We hope this list of the best Nuri Bilge Ceylan films has been useful for you. Let us know your favorite Ceylan movie in the comments below.

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