Despite being nominated eight times, Martin Scorsese only won the Academy Award for Best Director once; for 2006’s “The Departed.” This is perhaps the biggest injustice in Oscar history. Whereas he remains one of the most revered filmmakers of all time.
Martin Scorsese has shaped to our modern popular image of the gangster, he has tackled the most influential characters and stories in American and human history. But he doesn’t need the awards, because his influence is amazing, his style singular and his legacy vast. Heck, he’s legendary enough to crush the universally beloved Marvel movies and survive the mobs of fans.
On the day he turns 80, at rock radio we pick the 10 best Martin Scorsese movies.
Like many certified classics, “GoodFellas” has been so absorbed into the culture that it now risks being simplified in our collective consciousness as a collection of memorable quotes, elegant flourishes, and shocking visuals. Yet just watch “GoodFellas” again and it’s amazing how absorbing and nuanced it all is. How his portrayal of a would-be mobster (Ray Liotta) is a blueprint for the American Dream that’s been distorted and corrupted. “GoodFellas” never forgets that deep down, criminals love the lives they lead, so the movie is also devilishly entertaining and funny, until it’s not. Scorsese has never hidden the fact that he grew up with guys like Hill, and that he always looked up to them, even though he knew he probably shouldn’t. He works through those conflicting feelings brilliantly in GoodFellas. All these years later, all of us are still just as torn by these enormously charismatic reprobates.
Raging Bull (1980)
A rat king of tangled jealousy, sexual urges, desperate fury, and violent rage (the clue is in the name), “Raging Bull” would easily be the best film of any director’s career. It’s probably the best sports movie ever made, if you accept that it’s actually about sports, which in itself is debatable. However, Martin Scorsese, addicted to cocaine in the run-up to the film’s production, thought it would be his last and initially turned down the project, even as Robert De Niro repeatedly suggested he take a look at boxer Jake LaMotta’s autobiography. with a view to adapting the book into a film. However, after nearly dying of a drug overdose, Scorsese relented and channeled his energy into “Raging Bull”; De Niro as LaMotta became a man who wrestled with his own problems and inadequacies every time he stepped into the ring and the result was momentous. Scorsese’s career was saved and the next four decades are history.
Taxi Driver (1976)
Robert De Niro has rarely been better than in Martin Scorsese’s 1976 drama about Vietnam vet Travis Bickle, who spends his days and nights driving his cab around a New York City he considers morally bankrupt, as well as plotting to killing a presidential candidate (because he’s obsessed with Cybil Shepherd’s volunteer) and a pimp (because he’s friends with Jodie Foster’s underage prostitute). Existential despair and unhinged rage practically seep out of each expertly framed composition, heightening the overall mood of madness and melancholy that leads Bickle to catastrophic ends. Fiery, sad and stylistically unforgettable, it may be Scorsese’s best film, replete with De Niro’s titanic performance as a loner desperate for communion, in the grip of an antisocial rage (according to his legendary speech to himself in the mirror) and lost in a sea of discontent, desire and disorder.
The Irishman (2019)
Martin Scorsese’s most recent film was largely of its time: it was released in Netflix and and around it made noise as a result of the comments of Scorsese about the “theme parks” of Marvel. At the same time, there are elements that seem timeless, at this point: It had De Niro and Pacino as leads and employed a multi-generational epic narrative of the personal cost of crime. We had seen it before and loved it anyway. Is a gangster movie as good as “GoodFellas” or “The Departed”? Maybe not, but it’s pretty close (despite digitally aged De Niro struggling to slow down a man).
Mean Streets (1973)
Mean Streets is the first proto-Scorsese blockbuster in many ways. All the necessary ingredients are there; namely, New York mobsters dealing with the morality imposed by their rigid Catholicism, played by two of the three big-name actors the director worked with in the first half of his career. In this case, it’s Keitel and De Niro who star (Al Pacino is sadly absent). After the reprise of the sex and violence of “Boxcar Bertha” and the low-budget personal piece “Who’s That Knocking At My Door,” “Mean Streets” was the first time Scorsese found his own voice and had the cash. to match it. He did not disappoint.
The Departed (2006)
At the time, it seemed crazy, even a little offensive, that of all the movies Martin Scorsese would ultimately win his Oscar for, it would be this one, a hair-raising police thriller rolled up its sleeves that featured all the emotion of a gangster without a lot of fear and guilt, typical Scorsese. However, the years have been kind to “The Departed.” A movie that basically does at the highest level what thousands of thrillers have been trying to do for decades. Scorsese pulls it off without really breaking a sweat. Sure, Jack Nicholson turned it up a notch. And yes, not everyone agrees on the controversial last shot. But “The Departed” is the movie every Tarantino wannabe would kill his mother for. About to turn 64, Scorsese made the best possible version while he slept.
The Wolf of Wall Street (2013)
As we all learned from “GoodFellas,” the best criminal movies make you sympathize with them and feel a slight desire for whatever it is — the glamour, the excitement, the bank balance — about their life that appeals, before pulling the wool out of you. eyes rudely in the third act. “The Wolf Of Wall Street” did just that. With all the persuasive and manipulative force of a box full of Quaaludes. It’s appropriate enough for three hours of pure hyper-male greed porn, one of the most pirated movies ever. Consider that revenge for all those idiot boys who for a couple of months beat each other in the chest and growled. On the plus side, it featured plenty of excellent 1980s brokerage-striped tailoring. And it brought Margot Robbie out of antipodean obscurity, so the buzz can be let through.
The King of Comedy (1982)
Rupert Pupkin spent much of his (fictional) existence in the shadow of Travis Bickle, Martin Scorsese’s psycho creation, until “The King of Comedy” saw renewed interest last year with the release of “Joker.” by Todd Phillips. Phillips’ film owes much of its wicked gestures and pacing to Scorsese’s dark satire on celebrity culture, which followed Pupkin, a mediocre stand-up comedian, on his delirious and obsessive quest for fame in a late .
Scorsese reunites with De Niro and Pesci for 1995’s “Casino,” but he has more than a “GoodFellas” repeat on his mind. It is a story about greed, power and betrayal propelled by the phenomenal performances of its two male leads. Plus Sharon Stone as Rothstein’s crooked wife Ginger, who can’t break free of her former pimp Lester of hers (James Woods). A sweeping look at life in crime, the film features some of the best directing sequences of Scorsese’s career. From an early scene that follows the movement of money from the casino floor to the counting room, to a finale that sees one form of villainy replacing another, all shot by Robert Richardson with the grace and electricity of a constantly moving Steadicam. .
The Last Temptation Of Christ (1988)
Whatever fictional claim you can make, it’s the Gospels, as a movie; Storytelling can’t get much more ambitious than that. Despite the help of a script by Paul Schrader, “The Last Temptation of Christ” might have been too much for Martin Scorsese. Nearly three hours of flogging, crucifixion, and “what ifs” about Jesus’ life later, it’s hard to feel anything but drained. Nonetheless, it was a bold undertaking that required a great deal of courage to attempt. Scorsese received death threats and there was even a fundamentalist Christian terrorist attack on a cinema showing the film in France. Probably not a movie that would be made today for fear of offending. That, in itself, is quite a commendable artistic undertaking.