Martin Scorsese may have turned 74 today, but retirement seems to be the last thing on his mind. He is gearing up for the release of his long-gestating passion project Silence, starring Liam Neeson and Adam Driver, as well as preparing to shoot a gangster-drama with close friend and collaborator Robert De Niro and Al Pacino. He also has a film with Leo DiCaprio in the pipeline.
The man who is synonymous with the new age of Hollywood has never been shy of experimenting with genres. From gangster flicks to dramas, from grand period dramas to quiet noir thrillers, he has done it all and how!
So, today we decided to take a look at what we believe are 5 of his best movies. The list is in no particular order because:
a.) This is Martin Scorsese we're talking about, and;
b.) This is Martin Scorsese we're talking about!
So, without further ado, here are the top 5 Scorsese works of art:
5. Gangs of New York
After years of making movies about the mob in the 20th century Martin Scorsese decided to roll back the clock with Gangs of New York. The 2002 film takes place in New York City around the time of the Civil War when vicious gangs battled throughout the city. Now a three-time Oscar winner for Best Actor, Daniel Day-Lewis played Bill "The Butcher" Cutting, a vicious nativist who battles an immigrant gang. Leonardo DiCaprio played an Irish immigrant bent on taking down "The Butcher." The film features an amazing recreation of the New York city Draft Riots that ravaged New York in 1863. It was also the first time that Scorsese worked with DiCaprio, kicking off a very long and mutually rewarding relationship.
4. Mean Streets
Scorsese worked on a few movies before 1973, and was even in the mud at the Woodstock festival as an assistant director, but once he helmed Mean Streets, his life changed. It's the first movie where he had complete creative control, and the story of a couple of small-time hoods in New York's Little Italy was instantly hailed as a masterpiece. The film also played a big role in launching Robert De Niro's career, and the two would cross paths many times in the future. It may not be as popular as Goodfellas or even Casino these days, but without Mean Streets neither of those movies would exist.
3. Raging Bull
Jake LaMotta's 1970 memoir Raging Bull: My Story is, at best, a mildly interesting book about a 1940s middleweight boxer with major personal problems. In the hands of Scorsese, it became one of the greatest movies of all time. Robert De Niro gave everything he had to the character, getting into prime shape for the boxing sequences and gaining 60 pounds to display LaMotta in the 1960s when he was washed up and doing comedy shows at seedy bars. Joe Pesci was a largely unknown actor when he was cast as LaMotta's brother, but Scorsese saw the brilliance within him. Raging Bull was hailed by critics when it came out in 1980, and its reputation has only grown in the years since.
Is any movie in the history of Hollywood as infinitely re-watchable as Goodfellas? As good as The Big Lebowski may be, you need to be in the right mood and see it from start to finish to fully appreciate it. Goodfellas doesn't have that problem. Any time it turns up on TV, no matter what point it's at and no matter how badly the Indian censors have damaged it, changing the channel is impossible. Every single scene is compelling. Every line is quotable. It proceeds at a breakneck pace, and by the time Ray Liotta is chasing helicopters while coked out of his mind, you can viscerally feel his fear and paranoia. Joe Pesci won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor for his wild and sometimes scary portrayal of Tommy and the film lives on in the hearts of millions.
1. Taxi Driver
The back-to-back success of Mean Streets and Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore meant that Martin Scorsese had the power to make pretty much whatever movie he wanted in 1976. The end product of that freedom was Taxi Driver, the tale of a disturbed New York cabbie that becomes infatuated with a woman working for a political candidate. The more she rebuffs his advances, the crazier he gets until he decides to take a drastic action. Along the way, he befriends a teenage prostitute played by Jodie Foster. Over the years, Scorsese and De Niro have talked about creating a sequel, but it seems unlikely that'll ever happen. That's probably a good thing. Some things are best left alone.
So, there you have it! Do put down your personal choices in the comments.
As a special gift, here's Scorsese's first-ever short film that he made as part of a college project.
Title Image Source: LAT