Let’s start with a fun fact. Henry Hill was actually a real person. The movie Goodfellas is based on the biographical book Wiseguy, written by Nicholas Pileggi, and explains the life of Henry Hill, an associate of the Lucchese crime family before he became an FBI informant. Most of the events in the movie were broadly true. Now, if you like mob films, you will love these movies like Goodfellas.
What makes Goodfellas such an amazing movie? Let’s start with the cast. You have Robert De Niro, Joe Pesci, Paul Sorvino, and Ray Liotta. That is one hell of a cast, right? The movie tells the story of the rise and fall of mob associate Henry Hill and his friends and family.
Martin Scorsese directed the movie and initially used the working title Wise Guy. Yet, he postponed and later changed the title to Goodfellas. All of the main cast members, including De Niro, Pesci, and Liotta, spoke with Pileggi to prepare for their roles. But Scorsese also gave actors the freedom to improvise and do what they wanted.
The movie premiered at the 47th Venice International Film Festival in September 1990. Scorsese won the Silver Lion for Best Director. Here is another fact: despite being such a huge success and instant hit, the movie grossed only $47 million on a $25 million budget. Most critics and fans call it the high point of Martin Scorsese’s career.
Goodfellas received six Academy Award nominations, including Best Picture and Best Director. Pesci won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor.
Widely regarded as one of the greatest films ever made in the gangster genre, the movie was selected for preservation in the National Film Registry by the United States Library of Congress in 2000. Many people think that The Irishman is a sequel to Goodfellas. But that is not the case. It is a completely different movie. Spoiler alert: We have it on our list of movies like Goodfellas.
Let’s check the list.
You can make the argument for either of these two movies. Some people prefer Casino, others prefer Goodfellas. Both movies feature amazing performances by De Niro and Joe Pesci. Casino came out in 1995, with Sharon Stone, James Woods, and Kevin Pollak joining the two amazing actors.
This one was based on the 1995 nonfiction book, Casino Love and Honor in Las Vegas by Nicholas Pileggi. Nicholas also co-wrote the screenplay for the movie alongside Scorsese.
The movie follows Sam Rothstein, a Jewish American gambling expert handicapper who is played by De Niro. He is asked to oversee the day-to-day casino and hotel operations in Las Vegas for the mob.
All of the primary characters are based on real people. For example, Sam Ace Rothstein was inspired by the life of Frank Rosenthal, also known as Lefty. Nicky, the character played by Pesci, was based on mob enforcer Anthony Spilotro. Ginger, wife of Sam and played by Sharon Stone, was based on a former dancer and socialite Geri McGee.
The movie earned Stone a Golden Globe Award She also earned an Academy Award nomination for Best Actress.
The title onscreen is I Heard You Paint Houses. The 2019 epic crime drama was directed and produced by Scorsese and written by Steven Zaillian. The famous director again used a book as inspiration. This time, he used the 2004 nonfiction book I Heard You Paint Houses by Charles Brandt.
De Niro and Pesci are a must in a Scorsese movie. This time, Al Pacino joins the main cast, alongside Ray Romano, Stephen Graham, Harvey Keitel, and Anna Paquin.
De Niro plays a truck driver who becomes a hitman for the mobster Russell Bufalino, played by Pesci, and his crime family.
In November 2019, the movie was released on the digital streaming platform Netflix. The Irishman earned 10 nominations at the 92nd Academy Award ceremony.
We have to mention the OG movie of the crime genre. The 1972 American crime film was directed by Francis Ford Coppola. The movie made several previously unknown actors stars. For example, Al Pacino got his big break thanks to this movie.
The movie also stars Marlon Brando, James Caan, Robert Duvall, Sterling Hayden, Richard Conte, and Diane Keaton. Based on the best-selling novel by Mario Puzo, the movie chronicles the Corleone family under patriarch Vito Corleone and moves to the transformation of his youngest son, Michael Corleone.
Fun fact: Paramount Pictures bought the rights to the novel for just $80,000 before it gained popularity. Godfather won Academy Award for Best Picture, Best Adapted Screenplay, and Best Actor (Marlon Brando).
The Godfather Part II
This 1974 epic crime movie was the first time we get to see Robert De Niro and Al Pacino in the same movie. Sadly, they never shared a scene together. There was a simple reason, Pacino played Michael Corleone in the present, while De Niro portrayed Vito Corleone in the past.
The sequel picks up the story where it left in the first movie. We see Michael Corleone who is now the new Don of the Corleone family, protecting the family and business in the aftermath of an attempt on his life. But the prequel also covers the journey of his father, from his Sicilian childhood to the founding of his family enterprise in New York City.
Similar to its predecessor, Godfather Part II remains a highly influential film in the gangster genre. Many consider it the greatest film of all time. And it is a rare case where the sequel is considered better than the original by many people.
We are talking about lots of Martin Scorsese movies today. Taxi Driver is another of his great movies, starring Robert De Niro, Jodie Foster, Harvey Keitel, Cybill Shepherd, Peter Boyle, and Albert Brooks.
The movie is set in a decaying and morally bankrupt New York City following the Vietnam War. The story revolves around Travis Buckle. Played by De Niro, he is a taxi driver and veteran. Throughout the movie, we get to know more about his deteriorating mental state.
Scorsese says that he wanted the movie to feel like a dream to audiences. In some parts, the movie was considered controversial, mostly because of the graphic violence and casting of then-12-year-old Foster in the role of a child prostitute.
Many people forget how good this movie was. Starring Al Pacino and Johnny Deep, the movie was a great box-office success. It even earned an Oscar nomination for Best Adapted Screenplay.
Pacino can pull off a gangster and crime movie at any age. And he was still considerably young at the time. The movie is loosely based on the true story of Joseph D. Pistone, an undercover FBI agent who infiltrated the Bonanno crime family in New York in the 1970s. He did it by using his alias, Donnie Brasco.
You just have to love this movie. It is a remake of the 2002 Hong Kong film Infernal Affairs. It is also loosely based on the real-life Boston Winter Hill Gang. Directed by Scorsese, the movie stars Leonardo DiCaprio, Matt Damon, Jack Nicholson, and Mark Wahlberg as the main role characters. The supporting cast includes Vera Farmiga, Alec Baldwin, and Martin Sheen.
It takes place in Boston, where the Irish mob boss Frank Costello plants Matt Damon as a mole within the Massachusetts State Police. At the same time, the police assign undercover state trooper Billy Costigan, played by DiCaprio, to infiltrate Costello’s crew. At one point, both sides realize the situation and attempt to discover the other’s identity.
The Wolf of Wall Street
This might not be a gangster movie, but it is still a great crime movie. Scorsese directed the movie based on the 2007 memoir by Jordan Belfort. The movie takes Belfort’s perspective on his career as a stockbroker in New York City and how his firm engaged in rampant corruption and fraud on Wall Street.
Leonardo DiCaprio stars in the titular character. He also served as producer on the film. Margot Robbie plays his wife.
The movie was the first major American film to be released exclusively through digital distribution by Paramount Pictures. As a major commercial success, the movie grossed$392 million worldwide.
Let’s go back in time again, this time to the late 1980s. The Untouchables was directed by Brian De Palma, and it is based on a book of the same name. It stars Robert De Niro, Sean Connery, Kevin Costner, Andy Garcia, and Charles Martin Smith in the main roles.
The story is set during the era of Prohibition. We see the journey of Federal Agent Eliot Ness who tries to stop Al Capone by putting together a small and hand-picked team.
The movie premiered on June 2, 1987, in New York City. It earned four Academy Award nominations, with Connery winning the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor.
A Bronx Tale
The 1993 coming-of-age crime film directed by Robert De Niro is his directorial debut. The movie was adapted from the play of the same name by Chazz Palminteri. The movie tells the coming-of-age story of an American-Italian boy, Calogero.
He encounters a local Mafia boss and is torn between the temptations of organized crime and the values of his honest and hardworking father. Then there is also the element of racial tensions in his community.
De Niro viewed the play in 1990 in Los Angeles and instantly acquired the rights from Palminteri, intent on making the play his directorial debut.
Let’s move into some more violent and bloody crime movies and gangster movies. Directed by Brian de Palma, the movie is a remake of the 1932 film of the same name. The movie was written by Oliver Stone.
Scarface tells the story of Cuban refugee Tony Montana, played by Al Pacino, who arrives in 1980s Miami and goes on to become a powerful drug lord. The supporting cast includes Michelle Pfeiffer, Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio, Robert Loggia, and Steven Bauer.
The movie premiered in New York in December 1983. Initially, the movie received negative reception due to excessive violence, profanity, and graphic drug usage. But in the years that followed, many critics praise it as one of the greatest gangster films ever made.
Once Upon a Time in America
The 1984 epic crime film was directed and co-written by Italian filmmaker Sergio Leone. If you can stay and watch it for more than four hours, it is a great movie. Starring Robert De Niro and James Woods, the movie chronicles the lives of best friends David Noodles Aaronson and Maximilian Max Bercovicz as they lead a group of Jewish ghetto youths to become the powerful Jewish gangsters in New York City.
They rise to prominence in the world of organized crime. Once Upon a Time in America explores themes like childhood friendship, love, lust, greed, betrayal, and broken relationships, all while focusing on the rise of mobsters in American society.
The movie is the final film directed by Leone before his death.
The biographical crime film directed by Ridley Scott is fictionally based on the criminal career of Frank Lucas. He is a gangster from La Grange, North Carolina who smuggled heroin into the United States on American service planes returning from the Vietnam War.
Denzel Washington stars in the main role and Russell Crowe stars alongside him. The movie grossed $266 million worldwide. Fun fact: three former DEA agents sued Universal, claiming the agency’s portrayal was demoralizing.
Gangs of New York
The 2002 American epic historical drama was directed by Martin Scorsese. It is based on the 1927 book The Gangs of New York by Herbert Asbury. The movie stars Leonardo DiCaprio, Daniel Day-Lewis, and Cameron Diaz in the main roles.
The story is set in 1862. At the time, a long-running Catholic-Protestant feud erupts into violence just as an Irish immigrant group is protesting against the low wages.
Martin spent 20 years developing the project. He finally made it when Harvey Weinstein and his production company Miramax Films acquired it in 1999.
House of Gucci
Let’s finish off the list of movies like Goodfellas with one of the latest crime movies. The House of Gucci is an American biographical crime drama directed by Ridley Scott. It tells the story of Patrizia Reggiani, also known as the Black Widow. She was the wife of Maurizio Gucci, but their romance transformed into a fight for control of the Italian fashion brand Gucci.
Patrizia ordered the hit on Maurizio. The supporting cast includes Jared Leto, Jeremy Irons, Al Pacino, and Salma Hayek.