Martin Scorsese is one of the most iconic Hollywood directors of all time. His career has stretched across 50 years and his name is associated with some of the greatest titles in movie history. Here is a look at the top 5 movies from the influential filmmaker.
It is seen as one of the most underrated movies ever made in terms of awards, but this film adaptation of the 1986 non-fiction book Wiseguy by Nicholas Pileggi is widely-regarded as Scorsese’s finest work. The movie tells the story of Henry Hill, played by Ray Liotta, and his rise through the mob hierarchy. Joe Pesci won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor and the movie was nominated for five other Academy Awards, including Best Director and Best Picture.
The cultural impact of the movie is so great that the National Film Registry of the United States Library of Congress deemed it worthy of being selected for preservation. It is still considered the pinnacle of gangster movies and helped to launch the careers of a number of its stars including Liotta and Pesci. Robert De Niro was also cast in the role of a senior mob leader reuniting him with Scorsese once more after their successful outings in Mean Streets, Taxi Driver, New York, New York, Raging Bull, and The King of Comedy.
The Departed (2006)
One of Scorsese’s best attributes is his ability to move with the times. His continued talent of releasing movies that resonate both historically and with a contemporary audience is one of the biggest reasons for his longevity and prolonged success. An example of this was the release of The Departed, which showed that the director could still deliver stunning work in the 21st century.
The Departed is a remake of the 2002 Hong Kong movie Infernal Affairs. The plot revolves around an undercover police officer and a mole in the police force working for the mob who are attempting to identify each other. The movie boasts a stellar cast, including Leonardo DiCaprio, Matt Damon, Jack Nicholson, Mark Wahlberg, and Martin Sheen. The gritty content of the movie and shocking twists has seen it go down as one of the greatest movies ever made.
Just five years after the success of Goodfellas, Scorsese once again turned to the unholy trinity of Robert De Niro, Joe Pesci, and the gangster genre to direct one of the most iconic casino movies of all time. The story follows De Niro’s Sam “Ace” Rothstein as he manages a casino in Las Vegas on behalf of the Italian mob. Superb performances from De Niro, Pesci, and Sharon Stone ensured this movie was destined for plaudits with Stone winning a Best Actress in a Motion Picture, Golden Globe Award and receiving an Academy Award nomination for Best Actress.
Scorsese once again turned to the writing of Pileggi with the movie based on the writer’s non-fiction work, Casino: Love and Honor in Las Vegas. The movie has been credited with inspiring a generation of casino-goers in Canada. Its cultural influence is still being felt today with real money gambling being more popular than ever in the country.
Raging Bull (1976)
Everybody knows somebody that has “that image” on a poster in their bedroom. The image of DeNiro’s Jake LaMotta standing in the boxing ring with his gloves raised is just about as epochal as it gets in the movie business. The movie was in-fact based on the memoirs of former Italian American middleweight boxer LaMotta. It is a story that tells of LaMotta’s self-destructive and aggressive nature that ruined his
relationship with his family and friends, but also provided the energy for his in-ring success.
Unbelievably, not only was Scorsese initially reluctant to take on the project before eventually being won over by LaMotta’s story, but the movie received lukewarm reviews when it was first released. However, over time, the movie has become recognized as one of Scorsese’s most artistic releases. It went on to win Best Actor in a Leading Role for De Niro and Best Film Editing at the Academy Awards.
The Wolf of Wall Street (2013)
Scorsese’s ability to consistently update his approach to filmmaking has been cited as a reason for him being able to repeatedly release these critically-acclaimed movies. In 2013, Scorsese once again turned to DiCaprio for his acting lead in The Wolf of Wall Street. The pair had previously worked on Gangs of New York, The Aviator, The Departed, and Shutter Island.
Based on the book of the same name written by former Wall Street banker, Jordan Belfort, the movie follows Belfort himself through his career in the financial industry. The controversial use of foul language, sexual content, and drug use divided opinion, but the movie was generally regarded as a smash hit with cinema goers and critics alike. It was nominated for five Oscars, but failed to win in any category. Despite this it is ranked as one of the greatest movies of the 21st century.