When it comes to entertainment, we as viewers have always been fascinated by the bad guys. Whether you’re a serial killer or a career criminal, the industry has discovered that telling the story of villains is just more entertaining. The classic gangster story fits nicely into this category, often depicting a rising member of a criminal organization taking out whoever gets in his way to get to the top, or instead following someone who already he’s a Made Man and he’s trying to keep it that way.
Mob movies have been around for almost as long as cinema, and while they’re usually grounded crime dramas, they’ve been known to veer into other genres, like action and comedy. The best gangster movies, however, focus on an individual or crime family, showing the events that ultimately led to their downfall. Because in this world, no matter how good you are, it’s only a matter of time before you get hit.
‘The Godfather’ (1972)
The best gangster movie, and the one that everyone else aspires to be. The Godfather tells the story of the Corleone family: the patriarch Don Vito (marlon brando) plans to hand over his criminal empire to his son Michael (Al Pacino), but attacks by rival gangs and the police endanger the entire family.
Every mobster movie and tv show that came after The Godfather has been influenced by her in some way, be it from dialogue, the cinematography, or the general focus on “family business”. Long considered one of the best movies of all time, The Godfather It’s an essential watch for anyone with even a passing interest in the police genre.
‘Good Boys’ (1990)
No director has contributed as much to the mafia genre as Martin ScorseseY Good boys It is his greatest achievement on the field. The film follows Henry Hill (ray liotta), a young petty criminal who dreams of being a gangster, and once that dream finally comes, he realizes how dangerous life in the mob can be.
Liotta is supported by frequent Scorsese collaborators. robert deniro Y joe fishand all three deliver some of the best performances of their careers. The perfect gangster movie, Good boysThe influence can be felt in everything from The sopranos a Grand Theft Auto.
Good boys is available to stream on HBO Max.
‘American gangster’ (2007)
Based on the life of true criminal Frank Lucas, american gangster tells the story of Lucas’ (Denzel Washington) promote from right hand to mob boss. When Lucas becomes a ruthless drug dealer, Richie Roberts goes after him (Russell Crowe), a detective in charge of a task force created to attack drug suppliers.
what sets american gangster Apart from other movies in the genre, it is based on a true story, even if the movie is mostly fictional according to the real-life participants. Featuring two powerhouse actors in the lead roles, the film works by allowing both actors to command an equal share of screen time, creating two equally compelling leads.
american gangster is available to stream on Peacock.
Collaborating with robert deniro Y joe fish one more time, Martin Scorsese‘s casino it focuses on the mob’s ties to the game. When Ace (De Niro), a mob associate, is asked to oversee the operation of the mob’s casinos in Las Vegas, he immediately triples his income. However, this success comes at a price, as dangerous forces threaten to remove Ace from his main position.
Weather casino shares similar thematic ties with Good boysits focus on money-making mob schemes sets it apart from that film’s focus on rising through the mob ranks.
casino is available to stream on Hulu and Peacock.
‘Eastern Promises’ (2007)
Trading body horror for Russian mobsters, eastern promises is a bold stylistic shift for david cronenberg. Far from her haunting horror movies, the film follows Anna (Naomi Watts), a midwife who crosses paths with the Russian mob after discovering that her deceased patient was abused. viggo mortensen steals the show as mob enforcer Nikolai, whose work earned him an Oscar nomination.
Although eastern promises It’s not a horror movie, that doesn’t make it any less scary. The dangerous underworld of cruel gangsters is more gruesome than any other Cronenberg film.
‘The Untouchables’ (1987)
Al Capone He is one of the most notorious mobsters in history, and The Untouchables is a fictional version of a team of police officers tasked with bringing in Capone (robert deniro) to justice. The working group is led by Eliot Ness (kevin costner), and is joined by veteran Jim Malone (Sean Connery) and rookie George Stone (andy garcia).
The Untouchables is a rare gangster movie in which the main focus is on the police, who watch as they try to take down the big bad in the city. The entire cast brings their A-game to the production and delivers a cast of characters that remain some of the best in the genre, with Connery’s Malone in particular being a standout.
The Untouchables is available to stream on HBO Max.
‘Donnie Brasco’ (1997)
donnie brasco stars Johnny Depp as Joe Pistone, an FBI agent working undercover under the alias Donnie Brasco. Assigned to infiltrate a powerful crime family, Pistone quickly rises through the ranks while forming a close bond with aging hitman Lefty Ruggiero (Al Pacino), creating an infighting for Pistone as he is torn between his duty and his loyalty to Lefty.
The movie works very well due to strong performances from its two leads, and the friendship that forms between Depp and Pacino feels genuine. Both men offer some of the best work of their careers in donnie brascoand it’s a nuanced, well-constructed take on the classic mob movie.
donnie brasco is available to stream on Netflix.
‘Once Upon a Time in America’ (1984)
once upon a time in america is an epic crime saga centered on Noodles (robert deniro), a Jewish gangster during Prohibition-era New York. Told in non-chronological order, the film follows Noodles’ rise from street punk to professional criminal, as well as his relationships with his close friends and lovers.
Directed by sergio leone, once upon a time in america it’s a far cry from the Spaghetti Westerns the legendary director was known for. His last film before his death, Leone proves that he is the master of his craft, regardless of genre, creating one of the greatest crime movies of all time.
once upon a time in america is available to stream on Showtime.
‘The Departed’ (2006)
The movie that finally won Martin Scorsese his awaited Oscar, The dead people stars Leonardo Dicaprio as Billy Costigan, a state trooper sent undercover to infiltrate the Irish mob. Unknown to the police, the crime family has its own mole on the inside, Master Sergeant Colin Sullivan (Matt Damon). The dead people It’s a remake of the Hong Kong movie. hellish affairsand is one of the best american remakes of a foreign film.
The dead people it’s a game of deception, as both Costigan and Sullivan try to keep their true motives hidden while working to reveal each other’s identity. Both leads are in fine form, while being backed by a stacked cast that includes Jack Nicholson, Vera FarmigaY Mark Wahlbergwho steals every scene he’s in.
The dead people is available to stream on HBO Max.
‘The Godfather: Part II’ (1974)
After the massive success of the first Godfather film, he rushed to produce a sequel. The Godfather: Part II works as both a sequel and a prequel, continuing the story of Michael (Al Pacino) as he becomes the new Don of the Corleone family, while flashbacks reveal how his father Vito (robert deniro) rose to power after coming to the United States as an orphaned refugee.
The Godfather: Part II does the impossible and creates a worthy sequel to one of the greatest movies of all time, while also earning a place in that very conversation. Some would even say it surpasses the original, thanks in no small part to unforgettable performances by Pacino and De Niro.
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