The Best Films of Martin Scorsese

Tuesday, February 16, 2010 at 3:47 pm

This list of the best films of Martin Scorsese is prompted by the impending release of Shutter Island, his 21st feature film since starting in 1967. Scorsese’s works are often filled with violence, dark humor, themes of redemption, prominently-placed songs, and either Robert De Niro or Leonardo DiCaprio. While The Departed became the director’s highest-grossing film, his most critically-acclaimed movies came in the preceding decades. He’s a long way from being finished, though, and moviegoers can look forward to a number of electric Scorsese films in the coming decade.

You can also rent Martin Scorsese movies from Netflix. They have almost all of them, of course, and we’ll get a small commission if you head there and sign up for the Netflix free trial membership.

The King of Comedy (1983) – A darkly comic look at the nature of celebrity, The King of Comedy is about a stand-up comic named Rupert Pupkin (De Niro). He desperately wants a shot at fame, and a chance encounter with late night talk show host Jerry Langford (Jerry Lewis) convinces him that the moment is nigh. Lewis kills in role, although guys like Johnny Carson, Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra were considered first.

Casino (1995) – Considered by many to be Casino II, the film centers around Ace Rothstein (De Niro), a talented sports handicapper who’s asked by the mob to oversee one of their Vegas casinos. Things go well at first, but then Ace falls for a beautiful-but-crazy con woman (Sharon Stone), and the volatile Nicky Santoro (Joe Pesci) arrives in town.

Taxi Driver (1976) – Robert De Niro made the line “You talkin’ to me?” immortal in this tale of madness and despair on the streets of the Big Apple. Travis Bickle (De Niro) is a man disgusted by what he sees while driving his taxi, and he eventually decides to do something about it. In true Scorsese fashion, “doing something about it” involves lots of firearms. Pre-teen Jodie Foster plays a pre-teen prostitute.

Gangs of New York (2002) – Scorsese’s love affair with New York continues, this time in the form of a 19th century historical drama. Leonardo DiCaprio plays the film’s revenge-driven protagonist, while Daniel Day-Lewis chews the scenery and earns an Oscar nomination for his role as the murderous Bill the Butcher. As the two men struggle against one another, the drama of the Civil Wars plays out in the background.

The Color of Money (1986) – Paul Newman resurrects his “Fast Eddie” Felson character, this time with Marty Scorsese at the helm. Retired from the game of pool for years, Eddie takes on a protégé, the fast-talking Vincent (Tom Cruise). As he passes along tricks of the trade, the competitive fire begins to burn within him once again. Keep an eye out for Iggy Pop and a young Forest Whitaker as pool players.

Raging Bull (1980) – Robert De Niro won an Oscar for his portrayal of temperamental boxing champ Jake La Motta. Shot in black-and-white and featuring a high amount of in-ring violence, Raging Bull shocked 1980 viewers but is now regarded as a modern classic.

Cape Fear (1991) – Scorsese once again teams up with De Niro for this remake of the 1962 film starring Gregory Peck and Robert Mitchum. A violent rapist named Max Cady (De Niro) is released from prison after serving 14 years. Believing that his lawyer (Nick Nolte) withheld evidence that could have set him free, Cady goes looking for revenge. De Niro is loads of fun to watch as a deranged hillbilly on the rampage. A number of the 1962 cast have cameos, which is always a nice touch.

The Aviator (2004) – Before he became known as a complete nutjob, Howard Hughes was a director, producer, aviator, billionaire, and lover of many beautiful women. This film, starring Leonardo DiCaprio as Hughes, covers the years from the late ‘20s until 1947. Kate Beckinsale is radiant as Ava Gardner, and Cate Blanchett co-stars as lover and confidant Katharine Hepburn.

Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore (1974) – The film that inspired the television comedy Alice, this early Scorsese work centers on a former lounge singer (Ellen Burstyn, who won a Best Actress Oscar) who packs up and heads towards California with her son, Tommy. Along the way, she’s forced to take a job at Mel’s Diner in Tucson, Arizona, and Alice finds herself bonding with her fellow waitresses and falling for a local rancher (Kris Kristofferson). Vic Tayback played Mel in the movie and the TV show (which ran from 1976 to 1985).

Goodfellas (1990) – Ray Liotta came to prominence in this brilliant film about gangsters operating in and around the New York area. Joe Pesci made his mark as the psychotic Tommy DeVito, and Robert De Niro portrays the charming Jimmy “The Gent” Conway. The soundtrack is incredible, the violence is in-your-face, and it all adds up to an epic portrait of the highs and lows of criminal life.

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If you enjoyed the best films of Martin Scorsese, you’ll also get a thrill out of the following:

This entry was posted on Tuesday, February 16th, 2010 at 3:47 pm and is filed under Good Movies. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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