Martin Scorsese is undoubtedly one of the finest directors out there, having made masterpiece after masterpiece for many decades. With the impending release of The Irishman – a film that should top the list of every gangster movie lover – I thought it would be a nice touch to recap some of his most iconic productions. I will start in the mid 70s and slowly but steadily move toward the present day. At some points I’ll leave quite large time gaps in-between the selections, but I hope you won’t mind.
A young Robert De Niro and a young Jodie Foster turned this film into an absolute classic. Many quotes which have since been integrated into pop culture originate from here, and althought it didn’t get the acclaim it deserved at release (only nominated for 4 Oscars, winning none), it has since become a cult film.
Another Robert De Niro film, which chronicles the life of a boxer who gave everything in order to achieve glory inside the ring, but by doing so sacrificed everything else in terms of personal life. De Niro won second and so far last Oscar for this role (the first being as a supporting actor for The Godfather II), but the film was snubbed for most other major awards.
Alongside The Godfather and Scarface, Goodfellas is one of the classic gangster movies which are impossible to forget. Again, it didn’t quite get the acclaim it deserved, with only Joe Pesci coming out of the award season with an Oscar, but has since attained a cult classic status.
Leonardo di Caprio was still widely known for his role as Jack in Titanic, and Daniel Day Lewis only had one of the three Academy Awards he holds today. Gangs of New York featured a star-studded cast, that included Cameron Diaz, Brendan Gleeson and Liam Neeson, an was nominated for 10 Oscars, winning none of them in the process.
This mob film centred on the Irish mafia in Boston finally landed big prizes for Martin Scorsese: he won his first (and only) Best Director statuette, and also won Best Picture at the 2007 Academy Awards. It again features Leo di Caprio, alongisde Martin Sheen, Matt Damon, Mark Wahlberg, Alec Baldwin and Vera Farmiga.
While this one is perhaps the only one on this list which didn’t quite get a warm critical reception, many people loved it – it currently sits on the #163 spot in IMDb’s best-rated films of all time. It’s an intense psychological drama expertly directed by Scorsese, who managed to do complete justice to the source material.
I chose this one instead of Hugo as his last big one to date – considering that Silence was too long, too unfocused and too obscure to really count. It’s the fourth entry in the row to feature Leo di Caprio, whereas the first three in a row featured Robert de Niro. It’s not on purpose, though. The Wolf of Wall Street is controversial as it is iconic – it completely deviates from Scorsese’s usual style, and still ends up being a masterpiece, which speaks volumes about the director’s talent and felxibility. Oh, almost forgot – five nominations, no Oscars.