Top 10 Martin Scorsese Films

Raging Bull

List compiled by Eddie on  26/07/2013

Making his mark with his foray into the Mean Streets of New York in 1973, everyone’s favourite bushy browed Italian film director Marty has become an undisputed cinematic treasure.

With 1 Best Director Oscar (plus 6 other directing nominations) to his name Marty has received just rewards for his many years on top in the film industry, working with a fantastic variety of the best of the best including standout collaborations with Robert De Niro, Leonardo DiCaprio and Joe Pesci.

Scorsese’s catalogue of films ranging from biopics, documentaries and gangster epics makes for some impressive viewing, therefore picking a top ten favourite list was hard work indeed, but here it goes!

10. Hugo (2011) –

Scorsese’s love letter to the birth of cinema is a charming and inoffensive joy ride. Featuring some fantastic sets and imagination come to life Hugo is one of the rare Scorsese films that can be watched and enjoyed by the whole family.

9. King of Comedy (1982) –

An unusual piece in Scorsese’s catalogue, King of Comedy was a disaster financially upon release despite a cast including De Niro and Jerry Lewis and was met coldly by critics. Now day’s however the film is looked upon favourably due to De Niro’s unnerving turn as Rupert Pupkin and the dealings in regards to our fascination with celebrities.

8. Mean Streets (1973) –

A rough and raw film pre-dating the master’s greater forays into the world of criminals and gangsters. The film features a stand out turn from the freshly unleashed De Niro and a soundtrack that was a foretaste for Scorsese’s great use of music in film.

7. The Departed (2006) –

The film that finally won the little master an Oscar. The Departed (an adaptation of the Asian cinema classic Infernal Affairs) was a massive critical and commercial success for all involved. The tale of cops and criminals snitches and informants is a top notch effort in suspense, murder and double crossings.

6. George Harrison: Living in the Material World (2011) –

It’s no easy feat to make a coherent and involving documentary about one of the world’s most famous musicians but Scorsese did it with this fascinating look into the life and times of George Harrison. Spanning over 200 minutes this is the definitive documentary on the subject and a showcase for Scorsese’s knack for the medium of the documentary.


5. Raging Bull (1980) –

Based on the true life story of boxing legend Jake La Motta Raging Bull is a virtuoso example of directing and in the case of Di Niro acting. A film that race’s with heart and feeling Raging Bull still packs a punch to this day.

4. Taxi Driver (1976) –

Taxi Driver is one of the grittiest and grimmest films put to celluloid. The tale of unhinged taxi driver Travis Bickle again delivered De Niro a standout centrepiece roll and introduced the world to Jodie Foster. One of the most iconic and recognisable films in the history of the industry, Taxi Driver remains a force of nature to this day.

3. Shutter Island (2010) –

A journey into crazy, Shutter Island presented Scorsese with material that played to his strengths and the end product delivered the goods. A mystery that will unnerve and keep you guessing to the very end, Shutter Island deserves to be recognised along with his other classics.

2. Goodfellas (1990) –

A much loved and true tale of gangsters and all manner of criminals, Goodfellas holds a place on many an all-time favourite list. Brimming with personality, a whip smart script, outstanding acting and creative directing, Goodfellas is a must see movie and a prime example of the talent that is Martin Scorsese.

1. Casino (1995) –   

Often seen as the poorer cousin of Goodfellas, Casino is a truly epic and intriguing tale of life at the begging of Las Vegas as we now know it. Told in a completely original way and visual style Casino is unlike anything seen before or since. With electrifying performances from the three leads in Robert De Niro, Joe Pesci and Sharon Stone it’s well worth considering Casino the equal of Goodfellas or in my humble opinion the better of the two.


How does this list stack up to your favourites? Let us know in the comments below and while your at it check our last director top 10 list on John Carpenter here below –

74 responses to “Top 10 Martin Scorsese Films

  1. Ha, this is funny. Like your Top Ten John Carpenter films, your #2 would be my #1, but I haven’t seen #1, so it’s not entirely fair of me to say that! However, A Top Ten Scorsese List cannot go without a mention of Gangs of New York; it’s not his best, but it’s definitely fantastic, nevertheless.

    Also, it’s baffling to me that Scorsese didn’t actually win Best Director until 2006. He deserved it unquestionably at least three times before that film.

    • Casino is very much a classic film of it’s genre – well deserving of a watch. It’s interesting to see how often debates are raging about what is the better crime epic out of it and Goodfellas on the internet.

      Gangs of New York to me and I think quite a few people was a tad to self indulgent, when you take away DDL performance it is actually a little lacklusture.

      As you say truely baffling that Scorsese has only won the single best director Oscar, an oversite by the film industry and a true sign that the Academy gets things pretty wrong. (Eddie)

      • Thanks for the reply. I’ll have to add Casino to my long list of films I must see haha. And fair enough, Gangs of New York does largely live and die on DDL’s masterful performance.

      • Good to hear mate 🙂 – there is a lot to love about Casino I can say you will not have seen anything like it before and the performances of the 3 main’s are incredible. Happy watching! (Eddie)

  2. With all due respect, it’s a tough list to show love for. “Taxi Driver” and “Raging Bull” at #4 & #5 respectively, but the tepid “Shutter Island” at #3?! “Casino” his best?! “The Last Waltz”, “After Hours”, “The Last Temptation of Christ” and “The Aviator” nowhere to be found?! Pleased to find “The King of Comedy” amongst the group, but it would be interesting to hear how you came to your conclusions. And I’m not trying to be a jerk here…just wondering. ML

    • That;s why personel lists are so good 🙂 everyone has different thoughts. Taxi Driver and Raging Bull are amazing films, as a lot of Scorsese’s are! So I agree it was a tough call placing them.

      Shutter Island sits pretty nicely in the IMDB top 250 at # 235 so I would say “tepid” is a perhaps a rare description of the movie. In my view it’s one of the better thriller mysterys of the last decade and a nice change up of Scorsese’s films.

      The Last Waltz is a great piece on The Band and almost snuck into the list.

      I must admit to never seeing the Last Temptation in its entirety so I can not make a call on it to my detriment.

      The Aviator – I must say from my opinion just no. A really overblown and over the top film when compared to Scorsese’s other pieces.

      Appreciate the feedback as you said not being a jerk just discussing which as film fans is what we love! (Eddie)

      • I would agree with the praise for Shutter Island. It’s one of my favorite films of the last decade and probably the best pairing of DiCaprio/Scorsese. Great book as well.

      • Yeh mate sometimes people don’t want to give films of that vain credit were credit is due, the whole atmosphere, production, perforamnces are world class. The ending as well remains one of the more bleak and understated of perhaps all time. (Eddie)

      • Well, I appreciate you taking the time to elaborate on some of your picks, as well as confessing to not seeing “The Last Temptation of Christ”. I saw it twice in theaters in 1988, crossing a picket line for the controversial work the first time around, and I own the Criterion DVD. My one issue with your response is quoting me the IMDB listing in regard to “Shutter Island”. You are using a list in your defense that believes “The Shawshank Redemption” is the finest film ever made. Better than “Citizen Kane”. Better than “Vertigo”. Better than “The Godfather 1 & 2”. I have yet to come across a respected film critic or historian that places “Shawshank” on so lofty of a mantle. Perching “Shutter Island” as high as you have is suspect. At only 3 years old, it hasn’t even had much time to resonate when placed against Marty’s older work. On the other hand, I’ve learned to respect “Casino” a bit more since finding it lacking upon first experiencing it in 1995. Again, #1 is way too high, but it’s a better film than I first gave it credit for. And my favorite Scorsese film of the last 22 years? “The Aviator”—the one you’ve so readily dismissed. “Taxi Driver” and “Raging Bull” would most likely be my #1 and #2, and the only one mentioned that I have yet to see is the George Harrison documentary. That will be rectified in the near future, but I don’t foresee myself garnering much love for “Shutter Island” any time soon. ML

      • As a child of the 90’s it is perhaps possible that watching many a Scorsese film on rental or the likes changes my experience’s with the film.

        In regards to the IMDB top 250 I think it has much more resonation with the film world than “critics”. Films are made for the audience and to be loved sitting at home in your collection. The Shawshank is a wonderfully made film with a unfound since heart and soul.

        The top 250 also includes a great varity of films, would you say The Godfather is unworhty of a number 2 spot or that films like 12 Angry Men are not worthy?

        In my opinion IMDB and the top 250 in particular is a better tool than anything such as Rotten Tomatoes or any Critic who feels the need to mention Citizan Kane or Vertigo in fear of retribution from other critics for not name dropping them or perhaps for fear of getting there Film Critics Socity membership cut up?

        If you love a film like I do Shutter Island I am not going to hide it from a list just because so many an esteemed film lover must mention Taxi Driver or Goodfellas firstly, it also must be said that I love those films and would rate them as near perfect for what they are so those positions on my list being 4 and 5 are all really close to being higher.

        Interesting debate indeed (Eddie)

      • Nothing like a good film debate!
        Personally, I’d like to see Cape Fear and Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore in a Marty top 10. But in order to do that 2 other great films would have to make way..

  3. Over all some great choices. I would not have put Shutter Island as third but that is just one humble opinion but the other choices were great. Goodfellas deserved an Oscar. I am so glad you put in George Harrison: Living in the Material World. Great Job!

    • I had that feeling Shutter would be the most questionable one, I think I just really was taken aback by the film especially on the first viewing on the big screen. George Harrison though – what a fantastic voyage, truely well crafted and virtually the greatest insight to the man your likely to see. (Eddie)

  4. Respect again, Eddie, but I assure you that this Scorsese lover(and, at nearly 48, child of the 70’s and 80’s), is not relying on the critics on rottentomatoes to fuel his argument. But I also don’t feel that the fan listing of IMDB should be taken very seriously. I made a point of saying RESPECTED critics and historians. And while the reasons for someone being considered “respected” is certainly open to debate, it has been my experience that the “average” film-goers’ taste is horrible. At least here in the States, it is. Why else does the “Transformers” series garner so much revenue? I picked three respected films that are head and shoulders above “Shawshank”, but I just as easily could’ve written “Do the Right Thing”, “Mulholland Dr.” and “The New World”. In other words, I appreciate a maverick choice. However, a list that places “Shawshank” as #1 is decidedly lacking. And yes, I do believe that there is a difference between watching these films years later at home, versus absorbing them in a theater when they were first released. I’ve attended just about every single Scorsese release since “Raging Bull” in 1980. And I can assure you that three decades on, something as mediocre as “Shutter Island”, being viewed in the same manner, is unable to measure up to the story of Jake La Motta. That being said, I’m chomping at the bit for “The Wolf of Wall Street”, and I’ve stated so on my site in an enthusiastic piece. Cheers! ML

    • I have to say mate – Do The Right Thing, Mulholland and The New World are all stand out pieces, they would all sit proudly in some of the best films I have ever seen.

      I really appreciate the time you have taken to express yourself here on the article and it’s the reason to make such things as a top ten list to see how everyone else feels or perhaps be inspired to re watch or watch a film for the first time.

      As a closing I to am very much looking forward to watching Wolf Of Wall Street, I feel good things all round for it and a show stopping turn from Matty Mc. Happy reading and in honesty look forward to hearing from you again! (Eddie)

      • McConaughey, judging by the trailer alone, appears to be at the top of his game. He’s long overdue for an Oscar nom…my bet is that it finally happens this coming January. Enjoyed the sparring session. I’m sure I’ll be back…and stop by my neck-of-the-woods if you are so inclined. ML

  5. Will do ML – I enjoyed it also you clearly know your films and it’s always a great occasion to box it out verbally then call it even. Much film filled love (Eddie)

  6. Glad to see I’m not the only one who holds Casino above Goodfellas! I am bummed to see The Aviator didn’t make the list- but to each his own. Overall a good list

  7. Great list.

    I am yet to see George Harrison: Living in the Material World and Mean Streets.

    I personally think Shutter Island is the best yet. I recently saw Hugo. What a movie!


  8. Would personally have Raging Bull higher and include Gangs of New York. I always find it odd that The Departed was Scorsese’s Oscar-winner as it’s far from his best (and too stylistically close to Infernal Affairs)

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  10. This is a great list. Though I haven’t seen the George Harrison movie, I can say the rest of these are fantastic. And with Scorsese, with the exception of just a few duds (e.g., “Bringing Out the Dead”), it’s really about ranking the Fantastic against the Fantastic-er and the Fantastic-est. That said, if this were my list, I would need to make room for “Cape Fear,” and since I blog entirely about billiards movies, then of course, “The Color of Money.” The only one I would consider removing from your list is “Mean Streets,” so where does that leave us…a Top 11?

    • So very true about his movies, there all great in their own way and the man has not made to many out and out duds. Color of Money is a great little movie, fantastic to see Newman spa with the young up and comer in Cruise. Cape Fear is also a nifty little thriller, the scene with De Niro and Lewis played out at the school is one of the creepiest in Cinema history. Perhaps we need a top 12? (Eddie)

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  16. I’d have Goodfellas number one, and I’d put in Gangs and Aviator in there, and maybe Last Waltz instead of the Harrison doc. I’d also bump Hugo and Shutter Island out. So there!

  17. Good list, curious where (if at all) you would rank The Wolf of Wall Street? It was about 15 mins too long for me but I still loved it. Cool blog

    • Hi mate thanks for stopping by. I have a feeling without giving it a re watch it would sit just outside my personnel top 10. I am unsure how it could hold up once the controversial factor wears off and the jokes no longer coming out of left field. Either way though a great flick, one of last years best and brightest.

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  21. How can Goodfellas be #2!!! Casino is a fantastic film and definitely one of Scorsese’s best but Goodfellas could be described as one of the best movies ever made. Personally it’s my favourite movie ever made. Great list though, if you could check out our Top 10 Movies Ever list and let us know what you think, that would be greatly appreciated.
    Your Mates from Canada 🙂

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