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12 Martin Scorsese Films Everyone Should See

Culture December 13, 2016 By Hugo

Martin Scorcese is a man whose filmic oeuvre is rivalled by few other directors and is, in many people's eyes, the greatest director of all time.

So with that in mind, and with the release of Mardy's 24th feature, Silence, only weeks away, we at Lifehack Lane have chronicled 12 of his best movies and explain why they are some of his finest works.

1. The Wolf of Wall Street

Not everyone liked this film, and many critics were of the opinion that Mardy's biopic of the Wall Street conman Jordan Belfort, played by Leonardo DiCaprio, was nothing more than a bacchanalian celebration of everything wrong with modern-day finance. But it was a film like few others. 


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Granted, Oliver Stone explored the wrong side of the industry in his 1987 classic, Wall Street, but Scorcese's TWOWS was a more enjoyable ride, with engaging characters, hedonistic parties and hilarious dialogue taking precedent over middle-aged white men working at Goldman Sachs. At three hours, it was slightly too long, but it was a hoot nonetheless and shared many similarities to the louche debauchery displayed in his 1991 classic, Goodfellas.

2. Gangs of New York

The 74-year-old hadn't made a movie about gangsters for over 10 years before he decided to return with Gangs of New York. The 2002 film takes places in New York City during the Civil War as gangs ravaged the city with brute violence- something showcased dramatically in the opening scene.


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Stealing the show, however, is Daniel Day-Lewis's iconic character Bill "The Butcher," a native determined to keep New York as it is, even if that means regularly trading blows with an immigrant gang that Leonardo DiCaprio's Irish immigrant character is drawn to. 

Superbly told and acted, GONY would spawn the beginning of a long and fruitful partnership between Leo and Mardy.

3. Mean Streets

While Mean Streets wasn't Scorsese's first foray into feature-length filmmaking, it would be his first film where he was handed full creative control and a movie that no doubt served as a catalyst for some of his more well-known and later works around the lives of American gangsters.


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Admittedly, Mean Streets isn't strong on plot, yet its simple premise of a pair of friends wanting to do good in a rough Little Italy neighbourhood is highly entertaining, and critics have long heralded it a masterpiece, despite similar works like Goodfellas and Casino often being mentioned more.

4. The King of Comedy

Mean Streets marked the beginning of the great Robert De Niro and Martin Scorcese partnership, and after the critical success of Raging Bull, Mardy wanted his leading man to play God in The Last Temptation of the Christ. But tired of serious roles, De Niro wanted to change things up and try something more lighthearted, which led both to settle on the idea of filming the Paul. D. Zimmerman script, The King of Comedy. 


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However, despite the fact that critics praised its take on the fascination people have with wanting to be seen and heard, Mardy's atypical film tanked at the box office, although it eventually attained a cult following.

5. Taxi Driver

While Apocalypse Now reflected the brutal realities of the Vietnam conflict, Scorcese's Taxi Driver encapsulated the post-Vietnam society in a way few others had. And while Taxi Driver missed out on Best Picture at the Academy Awards, it is regarded by critics as Mardy's strongest work.


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Incidentally, the film placed at number 5 on Sight and Sound's 100 best movies of all time list based on the opinions of 358 respected directors.

6. Raging Bull 

Considered by some as Martin Scorsese's masterpiece, his 1980 biopic of the former middleweight boxing champion, Jake LaMotta, garnered reviews of the highest orders and in doing so cemented Mardy's status as a true icon in cinematic direction.


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Powerful, raw and compelling throughout, the movie's closing scene in particular, which sees a broken LaMotta talking to himself in the mirror as he reminds himself that he "could have been somebody" is something we can all relate to.

7. Goodfellas

Goodfellas has proved anything but ephemeral, and you'll be hard-pressed to find someone who hasn't watched this movie at least twice. After all, it's an exciting and easy watch, and much like The Wolf of Wall Street, it's a quotable movie full of gags, funny scenes and high octane chases that make you feel fully invested in the characters and the moral dilemmas they face. 


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It should hardly be surprising then that Goodfellas came out number one in a reading poll for Rolling Stone magazine's 10 best Scorcese movies, with Goodfellas polling 3 times as many votes as the runner-up, Taxi Driver.

8. The Departed

Italian-American gangster movies became synonymous with Mardy's direction by the time Goodfellas hit the screens, but it would be his Irish-American gangster film The Departed, set in modern-day Boston, that would win him his first Academy Award for Best Director.


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Based on the 2002 Hong Kong film Internal Affairs, the plot sees Leonardo DiCaprio infiltrate the Massachusetts State Police to find proof of their links to the Irish Mob.

Despite The Departed being the type of movie Scorsese has done many times before, it took in well over $300m at the box office. 

9. Casino

Derided by critics who saw it as a remake of Goodfellas (both films were written by Nicholas Pileggi and starred Rober De Niro and a foul-mouthed Joe Pesci), fans was nonetheless impressed with it, and looking back on it, we can't help share their sentiments.


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After all, Las Vegas was a city built on shady business deals and corruption, and though Vegas' early beginnings may have been as glamorous as Mardy depicted, it was another fun viewing experience despite the storyline being riddle with violence and unscrupulous individuals.

10. After Hours

By the 1980s, Martin Scorsese's career looked to be suffering a downward trajectory following The King of Comedy's poor box office takings. Thus, unable to get the funding to pursue his passion project, The Last Temptation of Christ, Mardy found himself in charge of this strange yet equally wonderful movie about a professor and literary boffin who meets a girl in a coffee shop.


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Somewhat of a black comedy, the film was in no way as good as TKOC, but it was a fun journey that chronicled the lust-struck professor's attempts at tracking her down once she leaves.

11. The Color of Money

This classic doesn't have as many plaudits as the previous 10 on this list, which is a great shame as it was also one of Paul Newman's finest performances, a performance which landed the late icon the Oscar for Best Actor in a Leading Role for his turn as pool hustler, Eddie Felon. 


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Centring a movie around the smoke-filled pool rooms of America doesn't scream exciting, but with a then up-and-coming Tom Cruise playing the charismatic muse to Newman's hustling exploits, you can't help but wish the film, which is also one of Cruise's finest performances, got more recognition.

12. The Age of Innocence

Adapted from the Edith Warton novel of the same name, The Age of Innocence was one of the few times Mardy centred a film on the theme of romantic love. And with Winona Ryder, Michelle Pfeiffer and Day-Lewis in the lead roles, the film, while not exhilarating or nail-biting, offered viewers a glimpse into a seemingly perfect marriage that actually faced much obstacles-namely that of Ryder's pretty cousin, Michelle Pfeiffer.


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What ensues is a well-paced film that explores universal emotions experienced by many. And though it would be Ryder who would get an Oscar nomination, the performances of the two others made it a film that was arguably more richer in acting prowess than any other Scorcese movie.







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