Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The 5 Best & Worst Scorsese Films

I had planned to write an editorial piece on Martin Scorsese for the LAMBs in the Director's Chair series but time was not on my side this month. Still here are my picks for the best and worst Scorsese films:

The Best

The King of Comedy
I am not sure why this film does not get more love from the general public. In my opinion this is a hidden gem in Martin Scorsese's large canon of work.

Raging Bull
Still one of the best sports related films ever made. I remember first seeing this on the big screen at age 13 or so. The film was playing at one of the old historic theatres downtown as part of a Scorsese double bill. Even at a young age this film blew me away.

Taxi Driver
I came close to placing either After Hours or The Last Waltz here, but ultimately went with Driver. The film has been quoted to death so it does not have the same replay value as some of the other ones on the list. Still every once and a while it is good to revisit the dark mind of Travis Bickle.

You knew this would appear on the list somewhere. With the exception of The Godfather series, ever other gangster film gets compared to this cinematic classic.

The Departed
I was tempted to put Mean Street in this spot but figured I needed a break from the Scorsese/De Niro pairing. I loved Infernal Affairs and I really like how Scorsese remade the film. Since I have not seen Shutter Island yet, hope to catch it in the next week or so, I would say this is the best film of his films with Leonardo Dicaprio.

The Worst

Gangs of New York
The beginning of the Scorsese/DiCaprio era also coincided with the tail end of Scorsese’s decade long “Give Me an Oscar” push. Daniel Day-Lewis’ Bill the Butcher is the only reason to watch this bloated mess.

The Age of Innocence
Love the casting, found the film to be rather dull on the whole. It also did not help that this came out when Ismail Merchant and  James Ivory were still at the top of their game.  There are far better period piece romances out there.

The cinematography is fantastic but the film just did not live up to my expectation.

The Aviator
See Gangs of New York comments minus Daniel Day-Lewis. DiCaprio gives a good performance in the film but I walked away learning nothing new, or interesting, about Howard Hughes. To see a biopic done right go back up to Raging Bull.

I like it better when it was called Goodfellas...


  1. Was that a David Spade reference for Casino? I do hope it was.

    Good lists, been meaning to see The King of Comedy for a while now. Think I'd put Taxi Driver at #1.

  2. You really know how to start an argument going, but I won't take the bait :)

    of the ten films mentioned, I have not seen The King of Comedy or Kundun of the remaining, I think each of them is an excellent piece...and your post name goes against my belief that Scorsese never made a bad film...yet. (Two of your "worst" are actually in my top 100")

  3. I agree on The Aviator being in the bottom category. I found it very overrated, difficult to watch and nowhere near Scorsese's best work. Casino though, I really like although, admittedly, not as much as Goodfellas.

  4. Other than 'Gangs of New York' (and I haven't seen 'Kundun' or 'The Age of Innocence'), I kinda' agree. 'Casino' and 'Aviator' I have only seen once but its difficult to force myself to rewatch them. Then again, I'd rewatch 'Casino' again if I'm honest ... but 'Aviator'... hmmm.


  5. @Aiden – You are correct. I did not think anyone would get that reference. It was one of the few times Spade actually made me laugh out loud.

    @Andrew – I had a feeling this post would stir the pot a bit :)

    As much as I enjoy Scorsese, he, or any director for that matter, is not immune to a weak flick every now and then. It just happens that Scorsese has only made one film since 1999 that I have really loved (still need to see Shutter and Shine the Light)

    @Film Intel – Casino has its moments but on the whole it felt like he was basically mining the same terrain he worked on a few year earlier.

    @Simoncolumb – I have the same problem with The Aviator, I tried to sit through it again just could not make it to the end.

  6. Here's how my list would read:

    Worst: The Color of Money

    Best: Everything that is not The Color of Money.

    Your's is good too though.

  7. @Mike – LOL. I think I still have a copy of The Color of Money on VHS somewhere.

  8. Speaking about Martin Scorsese, I've only seen Shutter Island and Gangs of New York so far.

    I'm definitely with you, C.S., about considering Gangs of New York as one of the worst films from Scorsese. The film tries so hard to document the history of New York and the story about Amsterdam's revenge. However, it miserably fails at it, because the script has no focus.

  9. Hey CS congrats on the nuptuals again. Just curious, I mentioned your blog to Shannon the Movie Moxie the other night.

    I mentioned it because a bunch of us Toronto movie bloggers actually get-together for a pub night once a month. Think you might like to come out to something like that? (The next one wouldn't be until late May)

  10. Your bottom five feature three of my fave of his films!
    Like Andrew I'll just respectfully applaud the boldness and move on...
    But really, you think most of the Leo movies suck lol?

  11. I don't feel the same way at all about 'Casino'. I think it's almost as good as 'Goodfellas.' The title sequence is fantastic the performances are great.

  12. @Anh Khon Do - I agree with you on Gangs script. It tries too hard to be epic and ultimately ends up without true direction.

    @Hatter - Sounds like fun, keep me posted and I will try to make it out to one to the evenings.

    @Jose - I have nothing against Leo personally as I really like him as an actor. I just think that his films with Martin are not as strong as Scorsese's early works.

    @Edgar - I knew adding Casino to the bottom would irk many people. Regardless, the performances just did not move me the way Goodfellas did.

  13. I’ve recently discovered your movie blog while blog hopping, I’ve become a follower, and I look forward to revisiting.

    I would appreciate it, if you, and others, would become a “follower” and/or link on your site to my new movie + music blog, just to help get it going: http://moviesandsongs365.blogspot.com/

    We can help each other discover new movies that we might not otherwise have heard of ( :

    About Scorsese:
    I agree, like you say Casino was too similar to Goodfellas, even The Departed story was similar to Goodfellas!

    IMO Scorsese is very overrated, I only like Last temp of christ & Taxi driver, and King of comedy was ok. Too much unnecessary violence and bad language in many of his movies, I think.

  14. chipster8:34 am

    I was quite surprised when I saw your list, I agree with your top four, but gangs of new york is way better than departed, its as if scorsese was working from the heart and wasnt thinking about what people would think of the film, its got it all, action, romance, comedy and all headed by a historical base. Also casino is no way one of his worst films, I would have certainly put bringing out the dead instead. Don´t get me wromg I respect your decision, but we obviously have a different views on his direction skills.

  15. @Chipster - We will have to agree to disagree on this one. :) Gangs of New York, even with its historical roots, does not hold up in my opinion. Take away Bill the Butcher and how interesting is the film really? The romance does not play well and DiCaprio's character is just not that captivating on his own.

    As for Casino, it has some nice moments, not to mention Stones great performance, but overall there is little in it that Scorsese had not done better in Goodfellas, Mean Street, etc.


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