5. Once Upon a Time in America Upon initial release, Sergio Leone's gangster epic tanked at the box-office thanks to the film being cut in half by producers. Once the full cut was released however, it was marked as one of the best gangster movies of all time. Robert De Niro and James Woods make a great acting duo in this tale of greed, corruption, and revenge. Be warned though, the final cut runs around 4 hours, so clear your schedule before you give pop this one on.
4. Heat Never before had I seen such an accurate and lifelike representative of cops and robbers than in Michael Mann's Heat. Christopher Nolan has said that Heat was his main inspiration behind his crime-drama The Dark Knight, and it's not difficult to see why. Mann creates a thought provoking character study of the life of a professional criminal, as well as the life of a detective trying to track him down. The characters in Heat are cliche free, and the action scenes and shootouts are some of the finest in cinema history. As far as bank robbery movies go there are some that are great (Ben Affleck's The Town comes to mind) but Heat still stands in a league of its own.
3. Pulp Fiction What do you get when you combine stories about a cheeseburger loving hitman, a washed up boxer, a gangster kingpin, and a pair of inept thieves in one movie? Why Pulp Fiction of course! Quentin Tarantino's hyper-stylized, hyper-violent, and just plain hyper movie is probably the single most influential film of the 90s. Turning Hollywood upside down, Tarantino proved that yes, you can have characters talk about pop-culture nonsense, and yes you can blow a guys head off while making your audience laugh, and yes you can make millions while doing it. A great cast with almost flawless direction puts Pulp Fiction as one of the very best films of the last forty years.
2. Goodfellas "Like I'm funny how, you mean funny like a clown? Like I'm here to amuse you?" So says Joe Pesci in one of the most uncomfortable scenes in movie history. Goodfellas tells the real life story of wiseguy Henry Hill and his experience in the mob. Martin Scorsese truly creates a masterpiece here in both his direction and his actors. Ray Liotta is perfect as Hill, with Robert De Niro and Lorraine Bracco putting in great supporting work. However Pesci steals the show as Henry's psychopathic buddy Tommy. Scorsese's film is a fast paced roller-coaster ride through the appealing, and at the same time unappealing, look at life in the mob.
The Godfather Part I and II If Goodfellas is like a rock and roll depiction of mob life, than The Godfather is operatic. I am combining parts I and II as the same entry, because really, they are part of one story, and flow better than any two parters that I have ever seen. The Godfather is a patriarchal drama about love, respect, honor, greed, and humanity. It is embodied in it's two central characters, Vito Corleone and his son Michael, both Mafia kingpins at different times. These are some of the finest movies to grace the screen due to it's beautiful cinematography, emotional score, and brilliant direction by Francis Ford Coppola. Marlon Brando, Diane Keaton, Robert Duvall and James Cann all provide spot on acting. It is Al Pacino as the flawed Michael however that the story truly sits, and Pacino plays him with such grace and nuance that I consider it to be one of my favorite performances of all time. The Godfather and it's sequel truly are two of the best that gangster films has to offer.
Do you have a list of movies that you want to recommend? Now you have a place to do it.
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