Scorsese has been a master behind the camera from the moment he started making movies. His digressions behind the scenes have been well documented. The 70’s and 80’s were no doubt a cocaine infused party scene for Marty and everyone else. Fortunately, the genius was able to seep through distractions no matter the drug to create classics. Martin Scorsese’s resume is not perfect. There are some duds, let us be honest. Nobody should be perfect. Yet he has made some of the greatest films ever. These are my Top 7 Martin Scorsese Movies ever.
During what you could call his second go-around, Scorsese went from consistently working with DeNiro and instead hooking up with Leo D for a series of award nominated endeavors. Heck, DiCaprio starred in the movie that finally brought Marty his long deserved Oscar in “The Departed” (although not deserved for that particular picture). The second best collaboration these icons did has got to be “The Aviator”. An obsessed old school Hollywood lover, Scorsese hit the mark perfectly by telling the story of Howard Hughes. One of the most iconic rich people ever, Hughes is portrayed as a flawed genius. His connection to Hollywood, including producing one of the first movies nominated at the Academy Awards while also dating multiple beautiful actresses is just the tip of the iceberg when it come to Hughes. The crazy man is a germaphobe that also does not believe in giving up on a project, even if it includes building the largest plane in the world. Howard Hughes was one of the most fascinating people in American history. Scorsese captures that perfectly with a film that is an ode to an era past.
“After Hours” is a movie one would never guess was made by Scorsese. It feels like say a Wes Anderson movie minus the meticulous framing. Marty decided to move away from the standard gangster, political, or movie history inspired pieces and just had some wild fun. An ordinary word processor named Paul (Griffin Dunne) is in for one hell of a night after meeting with a girl he had met earlier that day at a coffee shop in Soho, New York. Needless to say the meet-up does not go well. The boring Paul spends the rest of the night simply trying to get home. Unfortunately, the powers that be will not make that easy. Things consistently become more bizarre as Paul has run-ins with angry cab drivers, clutzy burglars, an unstable waitress, an angry mob led by ice cream truck drivers, and of course a dead woman. “After Hours” is absolute bonkers and a great example of Scorsese just having fun. It also deserves multiple viewings in order to absorb everything going on.
5. “The Wolf of Wall Street (2013):
Leave it up to an ex-cocaine addict heading towards the backside of his career to make one of the best movies about excess ever. Marty made a perfectly timed film, right after the housing crisis, to show just how ridiculous these rich Wall Street assholes are. Scorsese teams up again with DiCaprio to tell the true story of Jordan Belfort, perhaps the biggest and best bullshit artist in the game. Everything is about give me more in the lives of these rich New Yorkers as they continue to screw over the working man. I mean Belfort is sniffing cocaine off of a strippers ass within the first 15 minutes. Plus you got the Ludes scene with DiCaprio unable to use his hands as he drives home in a sports car. Of course everything comes crashing down with the FBI investigating Belfort’s firm. It culminates when he and his wife (Margot Robbie) have a blow up fight that includes ripping out pounds of cocaine from a mattress cushion and Jordan trying to steal the kids. “The Wolf of Wall Street” is an unexplainable story, but again, it actually happened.
4. “The Last Temptation of Christ” (1988):
Being an Atheist has nothing to do with how much I love this picture. You can truly see how much a Catholic believes in their religion like Scorsese does with “The Last Temptation of Christ”. With Willem DaFoe playing the biblical savior, this film shows Jesus as a man, which is flawed like all men. I thought that was the point about the story of Jesus? He is god and man right? Scorsese received multiple death threats for making this film. Why? Because he humanized Jesus, which is the damn point of the religious figure! His only mistake for the hardcore Christians, Scorsese decided to show a 20-plus minute sequence in which Jesus comes off the cross and lives a long life with Mary Magdalene (Barbara Hershey) and has a normal family life. But wait, he still decides to stay on the cross and sacrifice himself for our sins instead of succumbing to the temptations from the Devil for a normal life. I witnessed a history teacher in high school quietly fired because that person chose to show this movie and parents were up in arms. Why? All that Scorsese did was show the idea of Jesus for real. Quite frankly, “The Last Temptation of Christ” is an excellent argument for non-believers to understand where true-believers are coming from.
There have been thousands of gangster movies made from around the world. Certainly the Italian community is the most represented in American cinema. Short of the G.O.A.T. in the genre that is “The Godfather”, you can’t come across anything better than “Goodfellas”. Based on a true story, Scorsese concocted an insane look into the mafia world while also somehow finding a way to have some fun. Henry Hill (Ray Liotta) “always wanted to be a gangster”. The low-income kid realizes early on that, even if he is not a true Italian, can make his way close to the pinnacle of the cagey crime world that only promotes true Italians into their top end ranks. “Goodfellas” keeps things real as well as surreal. Joe Pesci (Oscar Winner here) intimidates a table of mobster by simply saying “funny how?” A woman decides in minutes who cares if she’s dating a gangster because it’s kind of sexy. And let us not forget the Lufthansa Heist, a 23 million dollar score and the largest ever at the time. “Goodfellas” shows one of the most extraordinary rides any human being could ever go through.
“Taxi Driver” is a film I have no way of relating to on a personal level. It is a movie centered around hate based in a city with a lot of angry people. What I can relate to is what Scorsese is saying when it comes to setting off a mal-adjusted person that is armed, but in the end is the hero. Maybe? When it came out in 1976, Scorsese was thick in the middle of a time in which Americans were questioning their leaders as well as the current state of our society. It was a safe space for the radical artists out there to be questioning governmental leadership. Scorsese took that a step further by questioning moral views with Travis Bickle (Robert DeNiro), a small town taxi driver going to New York City and is disgusted by the sinful world that is the culture there. It drives the man crazy and he decides to take matters into his own hands. Of course Bickle is off in the head, so don’t yell at me gun lovers because that obviously the issue right, wink wink. Yet in the end this crazy man armed with a small arsenal who wants to kill a politician ends up saving a young 15-year-old prostitute (Jodie Foster) from an awful abusive environment. Ultimately, “Taxi Driver” asks the question of whether or not a deranged gun nut can be a hero.
I am calling it straight up with this number one pic. “Raging Bull” is the best biopic ever made. The story of the famous boxer Jake LaMotta has so many levels to it that it is hard to call his career a success, tragedy, or simply a human portrait. One of the greatest boxers ever, LaMotta was an angry S.O.B. Robert DeNiro gave us one of the greatest on screen performances ever playing a man that is sometimes fighting in the ring, but is also constantly fighting his own conscious as well as anybody who dares to love him. The boxing scenes are amazing, and watch the way the camera gets closer into the ring per fight as the film goes on. It mirrors how LaMotta’s angry life is closing in on him, culminating in a wall punch in jail, which DeNiro actually did straight up. “Raging Bull” in no way is a pleasant experience. What it is more concerned with is a great fighter who could never overcome what was haunting him in his head.