From Raging Bull to Taxi Driver to Goodfellas, some of his movies will go down as the greatest of all time. But...not all of them. So from the absolute best to the bottom of the barrel, these are Martin Scorsese's movies, ranked.
33.Boxcar Bertha (1972)
32.American Boy: A Profile of Steven Prince (1978)
If there's one feeling that you can feel in every frame of Shutter Island, it's tension. Sometimes there's horror, or sadness, or revulsion, but you can never really shake the feeling that something worse is surely around the corner. I'm curious if this movie would change positions on this list if I watched it a second time, knowing how it ends. As it stands,I feel that Shutter Island is well put together, if not doing too much.
Hugo is a movie that feels so well-polished and pristine that, to me, it starts to tip the scales into feeling a bit bland. Perhaps Hugo would rank higher on this list if Scorsese ditched the childhood narrative of the movie and went full-fledged biopic. But even though Hugo may not be for me, I can admit that it is a beautiful love letter to one of the founding figures in filmmaking, Georges Méliès.
Just because Scorsese is capable of making deep, thought-provoking character studies don't mean every movie has to be layered with subtext and worthy of a film school lecture. Cape Fear is often criticized as being more style than substance, with Scorsese pulling out all of his flair on a pretty thin script. But he brings the flourishes and De Niro pulls off the insane Max Cady for a fun thriller.
As we get into Scorsese's best movies, we have to deal with an issue that a lot of artists face: when their newer work is compared to the greatest hits. As Roger Ebert puts it, "Scorsese is probably our greatest active American director, and he has given us so many masterpieces that this film, which from another director would be a triumph, arrives as a more measured accomplishment." Gangs of New York has a lot of fantastic elements, but it doesn't have the same momentum that some of his masterpieces do.
It's hard to watch The Irishman as a film on its own, and not a look back at Scorsese's prior films. As these mobsters get older and reflect, so is Scorsese looking back on the gangster flicks of his past. But as both a reflection of his catalog and a film on its own, The Irishman is Scorsese doing what he does best. Balancing a political plot with personal relationships, suspense with heartbreak, it's firing on all cylinders.
12.George Harrison: Living in the Material World (2011)
Howard Hughes passed in 1976, but The Aviator only takes us up to 1947. It's already a pretty long movie, so it was smart of Scorsese to not try to overwhelm us with the man's whole life. But it does result in my only real issue with the movie: it doesn't feel resolved by the end.
The best parts of this film are when we truly get a sense of Hughes' near-animalistic lust for life, speed, and thrills, but we expect that to come to some sort of fruition, whether good or bad. But life doesn't work like the movies. As a pure retelling of the tycoon's life, The Aviator is as larger-than-life as Howard Hughes.
Casino is based on the true story of a man who ran casinos for the mob. Feeling partly like a documentary, Casino spends a lot of time explaining the movie's world to you, similar to Goodfellas. But like a game in Vegas, the rules have to be established so that we know when things are about to take a turn for the worst.
Casino is the type of movie Scorsese loves making, and for good reason. The suspense, dread, and certainty that it's got to come crashing down at some point keep you hooked until the very end.
For Gangs of New York (#15), I argued that that film didn't quite have the momentum of some of Scorsese's better movies. This is one of the films I had in mind. Some will call it recency bias that this one is so high on the list, but The Wolf of Wall Street is a three-hour movie that, like its main character, rarely slows down to catch its breath.
The biggest knock on this movie is that it's just "Goodfellas meets Wall Street," and that's valid. There are no consequences for all the greed, and anytime there's a brush with real emotion (such as Cristin Milioti's character being cheated on), it's quickly swept away. Because that's what it takes to be The Wolf, and the movie is a masterclass in showing and not telling us what it's about.
To me, it's impossible to think of Taxi Driver without picturing that opening title sequence. The cab lurching forward from the smoke, close-ups of Travis Bickle's bleary eyes bathed in neon light, taking in the rain-spattered streets of New York. We never get a clear image of New York in those opening shots because Scorsese isn't showing us the city — Travis Bickle is the real focus.
And as we follow Travis throughout the movie and things never get better, we keep wanting to look away but are never given the chance. But it's such a successful movie because it so thoroughly explores the character of Travis Bickle and his struggle with the harsh realities of life. When he says "I'm only one here" in the famous "You talkin' to me?" speech, you can feel he might believe it in more ways than one.
Another one of Scorsese's "tortured masculinity" flicks, Raging Bull and its main character are tough to defend in 2022. Robert De Niro's Jake La Motta is not likable and you do not want to root for him. He's a misogynist, solely driven by winning, extremely jealous, and prone to violent outbursts.
Just like Taxi Driver, this is a grim movie that, at times, you want to look away from. And while it's the city defeats Travis Bickle, Jake La Motta damns himself to a cycle of rage and outbursts that will never end. It may be an ugly study, but it's one that is as well-acted, well-told, and well-shot as any of Scorsese's greatest films.
With the release of "Wednesday," Tim Burton's become a trending topic yet again. Burton's classic goth undertones are included in this movie, but it falls short when its lighthearted energy and violent scenes don't mix. During its release, Burton's remake of Planet of the Apes was difficult for critics to praise as many favored the original 1968 film.
Find out which film has won awards and earned a permanent spot in Hollywood history every year over the past four decades. From Academy Award-winning movies to fan-obsessed franchises, these are the biggest movies to hit theaters in the past four decades. Back in 1980 the horror movie starring Jack Nicholson was the talk of the town.