Top 5 Martin Scorsese films

Posted on 20 January 2014
By Craig Kell
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With The Wolf of Wall Street due out last week, legendary director Martin Scorsese is already celebrating the film’s newfound success after it recently landed several Oscar nominations. Purple Revolver has decided to take a look back at the renowned director’s five best films from a prestigious career:

Mean Streets (1971)

‘Marty’ first caught our eye over forty years ago with his passionate and violent tale about a young man (Harvey Kietel) who tries to make his way in the tough streets of Little Italy. Based on the director’s own youthful experience, the film began his traditional trademark of using classic pop and rock music (including The Ronettes’ “Be my Baby”) to lend nostalgia to the story and would also be the first of six collaborations with the brilliant Robert De Niro.

Taxi Driver (1976)

For a film made in the 1970s, Taxi Driver still remains as culturally important nowadays as it did back then as Scorsese upped the ante with his controversial and psychotic thriller. Robert De Niro produced another remarkable turn as Travis Bickle, an unhinged taxi driver (and Vietnam War veteran) who despises the scum of New York City and eventually takes action leading to the film’s riveting and violent climax. Boasting one of cinema’s most iconic quotes (“You talking to me?”) and featuring a young Jodie Foster (as prostitute Iris), this nightmarish film is undoubtedly one of the director’s finest achievements.

Raging Bull (1980)

Delivering a knockout punch, Scorsese’s depiction of controversial boxer Jake LaMotta’s life is as brutally honest a biopic as you’ll ever see. Yet again, Robert De Niro excelled with his greatest on-screen performance as the competitive yet paranoid fighter with strong support coming from future Scorsese collaborator Joe Pesci and Cathy Moriaty. The film also benefited from its stunning black and white cinematography with crisp editing coming from flawless editor Thelma Schoonmaker. Although it lost out on the Oscar for Best Picture (and Director) to Robert Redford’s Ordinary People, Scorsese would have the last laugh with the film appearing on many Top 10 Film lists.

Goodfellas (1990)

Opening with the much-celebrated line, “As far back as I could remember, I also wanted to be a gangster”, Scorsese’s landmark crime-drama is perfectly-executed with a strong mixture of violence and snappy comedy. Ray Liotta delivered in his role as real-life gangster Henry Hill with Robert De Niro and an Oscar-winning Joe Pesci lending versatile support to a film which was again overlooked by the Academy in other major categories. Throw in a killer soundtrack (consisting of songs from Tony Bennett, The Rolling Stones and Sex Pistols), appearances from future Soprano actors and an excellent script and you have one of cinema’s great masterpieces. Just don’t tell psychotic gangsters that they’re funny guys!

The Departed (2006)

Oscar glory finally landed Scorsese’s way with his brilliant Boston-based crime thriller about two cops (played by current collaborator Leonardo Di-Caprio and Matt Damon) who try to uncover each other’s identities before gangster boss Jack Nicholson gets to them first. The film was considered a return to form for the prolific filmmaker as he racked up the tension with the insightful narrative and slick editing as well as gaining strong performances from his talented ensemble cast. Did we forget to mention that it has one of THE best twists in film history? That one moment sums up the genius of this great filmmaker!