Top 10 Films from a Highly Influential Director Martin Scorsese: Including Goodfellows and Taxi Driver


Martin Scorsese is an influential director who has left an indelible mark on the film industry. He is a perfect shot maker and an intense director who has rewritten the crime genre with his character study films. In this list, we'll be exploring his top 10 films, including the iconic Goodfellows and Taxi Driver, as well as The Departed and Wolf of Wall Street. Join us as we delve into the cinematic world of Martin Scorsese and explore his unique storytelling and cinematic style.

Comment your favourites. Bookmark to watch later and do share. Happy Surfing

1. The Departed (2006)

Blog Post

Director: Martin Scorsese
Cast: Leonardo DiCaprio, Matt Damon, Jack Nicholson
Genre: Crime, Drama, Thriller

My Take:

In Martin Scorsese's "The Departed" (2006), the gritty streets of Boston set the stage for a high-stakes game of deception, loyalty, and crime. The narrative unfolds as Billy Costigan (Leonardo DiCaprio), an undercover cop, and Colin Sullivan (Matt Damon), a mole within the police department, play a dangerous game of cat and mouse. Their destinies intertwine within the ruthless world of organized crime, dominated by the charismatic mob boss, Frank Costello (Jack Nicholson). The tension escalates as each character navigates the treacherous path, leading to an electrifying climax that keeps viewers on the edge of their seats.

“I Don’t Want To Be A Product Of My Environment. I Want My Environment To Be A Product Of Me.”

The ensemble cast of "The Departed" is nothing short of exceptional. Leonardo DiCaprio's portrayal of Billy Costigan is a tour de force, capturing the intricate layers of his character with unwavering conviction. Matt Damon, with his nuanced performance, keeps the audience guessing about his character's loyalties until the film's gripping conclusion. Jack Nicholson's Frank Costello is a memorable antagonist, blending charm and menace in a way only Nicholson can.

Martin Scorsese, a master of his craft, skillfully guides the morally ambiguous narrative of "The Departed." The film stands as a testament to Scorsese's directorial prowess, seamlessly blending outstanding performances and a gripping story to create a crime drama that transcends the boundaries of its genre. Beyond its thrilling plot, the movie delves into profound themes of identity, loyalty, and the repercussions of deception, offering audiences a thought-provoking exploration of human nature.

2. Goodfellas (1990)

Blog Post

Director: Martin Scorsese
Cast:  Robert De Niro, Ray Liotta, Joe Pesci
Genre: Biography, Crime, Drama

My Take:

Goodfellas is a 1990 American crime film directed by Martin Scorsese and starring Robert De Niro, Ray Liotta, Joe Pesci, and Lorraine Bracco. The film is based on the true story of Henry Hill, a former mobster who became an FBI informant.

As far back as I can remember, I always wanted to be a gangster.

The film follows the rise and fall of Henry Hill as he becomes involved in the mafia and rises through the ranks of organized crime. The film is known for its fast-paced storytelling, sharp dialogue, and violent and realistic portrayal of the mafia underworld.

One of the most exciting facts about Goodfellas is that many of the actors in the film had connections to the mafia in real life. Joe Pesci’s character, Tommy DeVito, was based on a real-life mobster named Tommy DeSimone, who was associated with the Lucchese crime family. The real-life Henry Hill also served as a film consultant and helped ensure its accuracy.

The performances in Goodfellas are outstanding, with Joe Pesci’s portrayal of the unhinged and violent Tommy DeVito being particularly memorable. Pesci’s performance earned him the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor, and he remains one of the most iconic characters in cinematic history.

The film’s editing is also noteworthy, with its use of quick cuts and montages helping to give the movie its frenetic pace. The famous “Layla” sequence, which features a montage of violent acts set to the music of Derek and the Dominos, is one of the most memorable scenes in the film.

Despite its violent subject matter, Goodfellas is also a film about betrayal and the consequences of one’s actions. The film’s final act sees Henry Hill turn against his former associates and become an informant for the FBI, leading to the downfall of many of his former friends and colleagues.

Goodfellas is a masterpiece of American cinema and one of Martin Scorsese’s most iconic films. Its unforgettable characters, sharp dialogue, and realistic portrayal of the mafia underworld have made it a genre classic. The film’s performances, editing, and use of music all contribute to its lasting impact and make it a must-see for fans of crime films.

3. Taxi Driver (1976)

Blog Post

Director: Martin Scorsese
Cast: Robert De Niro, Jodie Foster, Cybill Shepherd
Genre: Crime, Drama

My Take:

Taxi Driver is a classic neo-noir film directed by Martin Scorsese and starring Robert De Niro as Travis Bickle, a Vietnam War veteran who drives a taxi in New York City. He’s a loner who is disgusted by the sordid and corrupt world he sees around him. He becomes increasingly unhinged and decides to take matters into his own hands to “clean up” the city. Jodie Foster gives a powerful performance as a young prostitute named Iris, whom Travis becomes fixated on rescuing from her pimp.

Loneliness has followed me my whole life. Everywhere. In bars, in cars, sidewalks, stores, everywhere. There’s no escape. I’m God’s lonely man…

What sets Taxi Driver apart from other films is its portrayal of an anti-hero who is both violent, unstable, and sympathetic. The film is a character study of Travis, exploring his psyche and the societal factors contributing to his mental breakdown. The iconic scene where Travis talks to himself in the mirror, saying, “You talking to me?” has become one of the most famous movie quotes of all time.

The film is also a commentary on sexual repression and toxic masculinity. Travis is a man who is unable to connect with women in a meaningful way, and his frustration and anger manifest in violent outbursts. The scenes where he takes Betsy (Cybill Shepherd) on a date and takes her to a porn theatre are uncomfortable to watch but are crucial in understanding his character.

Scorsese’s direction and the cinematography by Michael Chapman are masterful, creating a gritty and unsettling atmosphere that perfectly captures the seedy underbelly of New York City. The use of Bernard Herrmann’s haunting score adds to the film’s sense of dread and unease.

Taxi Driver is a timeless masterpiece that continues to resonate with audiences today. Its exploration of loneliness, alienation, and violence is just as relevant now as it was in 1976. Scorsese and De Niro’s collaboration on this film is one of the greatest in cinema history, and their work has inspired countless filmmakers in the decades since its release.

4. The Wolf of Wall Street (2013)

Blog Post

Director: Martin Scorsese
Cast: Leonardo DiCaprio, Jonah Hill, Margot Robbie
Genre: Biography, Crime, Drama

My take:

Martin Scorsese’s “The Wolf of Wall Street” is a masterful piece of cinema that stands out as one of the funniest yet most depressing movies in his long career. The movie takes a comedic approach to the story of Jordan Belfort, a real-life white-collar criminal who made millions through securities manipulation and money laundering. While the subject matter may be dark, Scorsese and DiCaprio’s collaboration results in an uproarious and exhilarating film.

Let me tell you something. There’s no nobility in poverty. I have been a rich man and I have been a poor man. And I choose rich every fuckin’ time.

DiCaprio’s performance as Belfort is a tour de force that showcases his range as an actor. The character’s transformation is extraordinary, and DiCaprio’s ability to switch from charming to unhinged is impressive. Most of the film’s dialogue was improvised, which adds to the characters’ authenticity and interactions. The witty and inspiring dialogues keep the audience engaged throughout the film.

The film’s artistic and imaginative scenes are memorable, particularly the hallucinatory car scene that displays Scorsese’s cinematic genius. Margot Robbie is stunning in her first feature role as Naomi, Belfort’s second wife. Her performance is captivating, and her character is essential to the film’s exploration of Belfort’s excess and decadence.

Leonardo DiCaprio’s portrayal of Jordan Belfort is outstanding and deserving of an Oscar, which he was unfortunately not awarded. However, his performance, Scorsese’s direction, and the excellent supporting cast make “The Wolf of Wall Street” a must-see film. While it may be a comedy, it still deals with serious themes that are relevant today, and it serves as a cautionary tale about the dangers of greed and excess.

5. Shutter Island (2010)

Blog Post

Director: Martin Scorsese
Cast: Leonardo DiCaprio, Emily Mortimer, Mark Ruffalo
Genre: Mystery, Thriller

My Take:

Shutter Island is a neo-noir psychological thriller directed by Martin Scorsese and starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Mark Ruffalo. The film takes place in 1954 when two U.S. Marshals are sent to investigate the disappearance of a patient at an isolated mental institution on Shutter Island. The plot twist at the movie’s end has become one of the most talked-about surprise endings in movie history, making the film an unforgettable experience.

Which would be worse – to live as a monster, or to die as a good man?

Scorsese masterfully builds suspense throughout the film, and it’s a nightmare sequence that really drives the audience to the edge of their seats. The music and visuals in this sequence are brilliantly orchestrated to make the audience feel as though they are experiencing the horror alongside DiCaprio’s character.

The film is shot on film, giving it a classic and timeless feel that matches the neo-noir genre. The cinematography and set design of the film are impeccable, with Scorsese and his team doing an excellent job of creating a foreboding and ominous atmosphere that permeates throughout the film.

DiCaprio delivers a captivating performance as Teddy Daniels, a U.S. Marshal with a troubled past. His portrayal of the character’s psychological unravelling as he delves deeper into the island’s mystery is nothing short of remarkable. Ruffalo also gives an excellent performance as Teddy’s partner, Chuck Aule.

Shutter Island is not just a great thriller but also a film that explores themes of grief, trauma, and the nature of reality. The film will leave you questioning everything you just watched and make you want to re-watch it again to pick up on all the little details. It is an exceptional movie that showcases the talents of Martin Scorsese and Leonardo DiCaprio.

6. Casino (1995)

Blog Post

Director: Martin Scorsese
Cast: Robert De Niro, Sharon Stone, Joe Pesci
Genre: Crime, Drama

My Take:

Casino is a Martin Scorsese classic that tells the story of Sam “Ace” Rothstein (Robert De Niro) and Nicky Santoro (Joe Pesci) as they rise to power in the Las Vegas casino industry. The movie is a crime epic that explores the world of the mafia, and it’s a thrilling ride from beginning to end. The film is set in the 1970s and 1980s, and it captures the essence of Las Vegas during that era, from the glitz and glamour to the gritty underbelly.

The performances in Casino are fantastic, especially from De Niro and Pesci, who have effortless chemistry on screen. Sharon Stone also delivers a standout performance as Ginger, Ace’s volatile wife. Scorsese’s direction is masterful, as he easily weaves multiple storylines and characters.

Casino is a great movie showcasing Scorsese’s director and storyteller talents. While it may be a bit long and not without flaws, it’s still a thrilling ride that will keep you on the edge of your seat. it has become a cult film over the years, and it’s not hard to see why. The movie is filled with memorable scenes and quotable lines, and it’s a must-watch for fans of the genre.

7. Killers of the Flower Moon (2023)

Blog Post

Director: Martin Scorsese
Cast: Leonardo DiCaprio, Robert De Niro, Lily Gladstone
Genre: Crime, Drama, History

My Take:

In "Killers of the Flower Moon," Martin Scorsese, once again, proves his directorial prowess. This film marks his seventh collaboration with Leonardo DiCaprio, and the chemistry between the two is palpable on the screen. Additionally, it's the eleventh collaboration between Scorsese and the legendary Robert De Niro, including a short film. With a whopping budget of $200 million, it's also the most expensive biographical film ever made, surpassing even Scorsese's own "The Irishman."

Can you find the wolves in this picture?

Set in the 1920s, this modern western is a testament to Scorsese's ability to immerse audiences in a bygone era. The Osage tribe's mysterious murders, attributed to their wealth from oil, provide the central mystery. As the story unfolds, it unearths a web of corruption within the city and those eager to claim the Osage fortune.

Despite its lengthy runtime of 3 hours and 26 minutes, the film never drags, thanks to Scorsese's gripping direction. This slow-paced drama keeps viewers engaged, unveiling layers of complexity and intrigue. It's a character-driven narrative that benefits from the exceptional cast.

DiCaprio delivers a remarkable performance with nuanced shades developed throughout the story. Robert De Niro, in his typical fashion, leaves an indelible mark on the film. Newcomer Lily Gladstone shines alongside these legendary actors, a testament to Scorsese's ability to bring out the best in his ensemble cast.

"Killers of the Flower Moon" is a masterpiece of cinema, an epic that not only entertains but educates. Scorsese's direction, combined with stellar performances and an engrossing plot, ensures that this film will be remembered for generations to come. The Osage murders, tainted by greed and corruption, are a dark chapter in American history, one that demands recognition. It's a reminder of the importance of acknowledging the past, even when it's marred by darkness.

8. Raging Bull (1980)

Blog Post

Director: Martin Scorsese
Cast: Robert De Niro, Cathy Moriarty, Joe Pesci
Genre: Biography, Drama, Sport

My Take:

Raging Bull is a Martin Scorsese masterpiece that explores the dark and violent world of boxing and domestic violence. Robert De Niro’s performance as the troubled and temperamental Jake LaMotta is legendary, and the film’s cinematography and editing are both stunning.

The film is not just about boxing; it’s a character study that delves deep into LaMotta’s jealousy and rage, resulting in a heartbreaking and harrowing portrayal of a man who is his worst enemy. De Niro’s physical transformation for the role is impressive, but his emotional intensity truly sets his performance apart.

Joe Pesci and Cathy Moriarty also deliver exceptional performances as LaMotta’s brother and wife, respectively. The “hit me” scene between De Niro and Pesci is a standout moment that showcases their chemistry and commitment to their roles. The film’s editing process was unique, with Scorsese and his team editing the film in his New York City apartment every night after filming.

Raging Bull is a powerful and unforgettable film that explores the complexities of human nature and the destructive consequences of jealousy and rage. It’s a must-see for Scorsese, De Niro, and cinema fans. Raging Bull was nominated for eight Oscars and won two, including Best Actor for De Niro.

9. The Irishman (2019)

Blog Post

Director: Martin Scorsese
Cast: Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, Joe Pesci
Genre: Biography, Crime, Drama

My Take:

The Irishman is a gripping and powerful film that tells the story of Frank Sheeran, a hitman for the mob who becomes involved with the teamsters union and the disappearance of union leader Jimmy Hoffa. The film features a nonlinear timeline, jumping between different periods of Sheeran’s life, and is based on the book “I Heard You Paint Houses” by Charles Brandt. The film has been praised for its outstanding performances by Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, and Joe Pesci, who all delivered some of the best performances of their careers.

Martin Scorsese directs with his signature style, creating a world that is both gritty and glamorous, violent and poignant. The film has been nominated for 10 Oscars, including Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Supporting Actor for both Pacino and Pesci.

At its core, The Irishman is a film about regret and the consequences of a life of violence. Sheeran is a complex and fascinating character, and De Niro’s performance captures his brutality and humanity. The film explores themes of loyalty, friendship, and betrayal and is a haunting portrayal of a world where violence is the norm.

The film’s nonlinear structure allows Scorsese to explore Sheeran’s life uniquely, showing how his actions in the past come back to haunt him in the present. The film’s use of de-ageing technology to show the characters at different ages has been applauded.

The Irishman is a masterful film showcasing Scorsese’s talents and his exceptional cast. The film’s epic runtime of three and a half hours is a testament to Scorsese’s ability to keep the audience engaged and invested in the story. It is a must-see for fans of Scorsese’s previous work and anyone who enjoys a great crime drama.

10. Hugo (2011)

Blog Post

Director: Martin Scorsese
Cast: Asa Butterfield, Chloë Grace Moretz, Christopher Lee, Ben Kingsley
Genre: Drama, Family, Fantasy

My Take:

Hugo is a visual feast, a movie that truly showcases Scorsese’s love for cinema. The film is set in Paris during the 1930s, and it’s about a young boy named Hugo Cabret (Asa Butterfield) who is an orphan and lives in the walls of a train station. He meets a girl named Isabelle (Chloë Grace Moretz), who helps him unlock the secrets of his past and the automaton his father left him. Scorsese tells a heartwarming story that’s full of wonder and imagination.

What makes this film so special is the way Scorsese weaves together several themes: the joy of filmmaking, the importance of preserving old movies, and the power of imagination. The film pays tribute to the pioneers of cinema, such as Georges Méliès, whose work inspired Scorsese himself. Through the character of Hugo, Scorsese celebrates the magic of movies and how they have the power to transport us to other worlds.

The film is also a tribute to the art of filmmaking itself. Scorsese has long been a film preservationist and historian, and his passion for the medium is evident in every frame of this movie. The scenes set in the train station are beautifully shot, and the 3D effects are used to great effect. The film’s visual effects team won an Oscar for their work, and it’s easy to see why.

In the end, Hugo is a triumph, a film that reminds us why we love movies in the first place. Scorsese has crafted a love letter to cinema that’s both beautiful and moving. It’s a film that will captivate audiences for years to come. It’s no wonder it won five Oscars, including Best Cinematography, Best Art Direction, Best Visual Effects, Best Sound Mixing, and Best Sound Editing.

11. Gangs of New York (2002)

Blog Post

Director: Martin Scorsese
Cast: Leonardo DiCaprio, Cameron Diaz, Daniel Day-Lewis
Genre: Crime, Drama

My Take:

Martin Scorsese’s Gangs of New York takes the audience on a journey back to mid-19th century New York, where the city was ruled by gangs of criminals. The film showcases New York City’s vast landscape; the buildings’ design, costumes, and characters’ makeup are all detailed with a rich and immersive aesthetic.

Leonardo DiCaprio plays Amsterdam Vallon, a young man seeking revenge against Daniel Day-Lewis’ character, Bill the Butcher, who murdered his father. Day-Lewis delivers an exceptional performance, creating a terrifying yet charismatic character that steals the show.

Liam Neeson appears as the father of Amsterdam, who is also seeking revenge against Bill. Despite the top billing, Neeson’s role is relatively small, and he serves mainly as a catalyst for the plot.

Gangs of New York is a gangster movie with a historical backdrop. It explores the racial and class tensions of the time and the power struggle between the gangs to control the city. The narrative can sometimes feel disjointed, with subplots that don’t always feel fully realized. However, the film’s visual and aural elements compensate for the occasional narrative shortcomings.

One of the most impressive aspects of the film is the set design. The production team built a vast set in Rome that replicated the Five Points neighborhood of 1860s New York City. The result is an immersive and authentic world, bringing the audience into the heart of the city’s slums and alleys.

Gangs of New York is a visually impressive film with an outstanding performance by Daniel Day-Lewis. Although the narrative may feel disjointed at times, it provides a glimpse into a historical period of New York City and the criminal underworld that ruled it. Scorsese’s attention to detail, the set design, and the costume work make for a fully immersive experience, and it is a must-see for fans of period dramas and gangster movies.

12. The Aviator (2004)

Blog Post

Director: Martin Scorsese
Cast: Leonardo DiCaprio, Cate Blanchett, Kate Beckinsale
Genre: Biography, Drama

My Take:

Martin Scorsese’s “The Aviator” is a grand biographical picture of one of the most flamboyant and intriguing figures of the 20th century, Howard Hughes, who was not only a billionaire but also a filmmaker and a pioneering aviator. The movie explores his life, love, and mental illness battles. Leonardo DiCaprio gives a career-best performance as Hughes, fully inhabiting the role of the obsessive-compulsive billionaire with incredible intensity and depth.

One of the movie’s highlights is Cate Blanchett’s portrayal of Katharine Hepburn, Hughes’ on-and-off-again girlfriend. Blanchett’s Oscar-winning performance is a tour-de-force of impersonation, capturing Hepburn’s voice, mannerisms, and spirit to a tee. The chemistry between Blanchett and DiCaprio is also electric, adding another layer of emotional complexity to the film.

Scorsese’s direction is impeccable, capturing the glamour and decadence of Hollywood in the 1920s and 30s and the excitement of the aviation industry during its early days. The movie’s attention to detail is remarkable, from the period-accurate costumes and sets to the recreation of some of the most famous planes in history. The score by Howard Shore is also exceptional, adding to the movie’s overall grandeur.

“The Aviator” is a compelling and entertaining biopic that captures the essence of one of the most fascinating figures of the 20th century. DiCaprio and Blanchett’s performances are exceptional, and Scorsese’s direction is top-notch. The only downside to the movie is that it feels like it’s trying to do too much, covering too many aspects of Hughes’ life and struggles, which can make it feel a bit unfocused at times. Despite that, the movie is a must-see for anyone interested in commercial aviation history or the life of Howard Hughes.


Add a comment