Ranking Scorsese

by JoeYancey

10) The Aviator (2004)

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score86%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score79%
IMDb7.5
MetaCritic77

Billionaire, Howard Hughes’ 1920s – 1940s life biopic told through the lens of Martin Scorsese. The movie captures Hughes’ track to wealth and power, as well as his most vulnerable moments and struggles with mental illness and obsessive-compulsive order. Leonardo Dicaprio is brilliant throughout, sewing Hughes’ legacy and iconic existence into the film from start to finish. Scorsese does a wonderful job detailing Howard Hughes, chronicling successes, rivalries, and his trajectory to insanity; at times, simultaneously. Hughes’ obsession with being seen and hidden all at once is mesmerizing. After watching, you wonder if anyone else could play this role. The answer is no. Leo is flawless in every way. The depiction of success and madness all wrapped into one is breathtaking. Taxi Driver and Raging Bull may have something to say about my next statement, but this is Martin’s greatest dive into one single character. The deepest of dives.


9) Bringing Out The Dead (1999)

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score72%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score70%
IMDb6.8
MetaCritic70

Scorsese’s most underrated film is Bringing Out the Dead, as is Nicolas Cage’s. Scorsese is the master of grit and real. This may be his most gritty film, certainly grittier than anything he’s made post-Raging Bull. Cage finds himself working a heroless job as a paramedic in New York City. The toll of saving lives and bearing witness to those he cannot save, becomes too much; and Cage starts to self-destruct as the totality of his occupation is just too much. Bringing Out the Dead covers three tumultuous shifts, focusing on Cage and his equally delusional colleagues. The casting is perfect. Tom Sizemore, Ving Rhames, and John Goodman are just as good, riding shotgun with Cage. Scorsese perfectly blends selfless work with the human psyche. There was little fanfare with this film, much less than usual for a Scorsese movie, but it’s damn good.


8) The Wolf of Wall Street (2013)

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score79%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score83%
IMDb8.2
MetaCritic75

Small-time, penny stock peddler, Jordan Belfort’s rise to the big time, and all things in between. One of Scorsese’s go-to’s, Leonardo Dicaprio, per usual is fantastic and delivers. Another hollow Oscar nomination (he would eventually win in 2015 for The Revenant) was enough to push the film along. Jonah Hill, Margot Robbie, Matthew McConaughey are great and Martin places them perfectly. This movie is good and also places near the top for entertainment value for Scorsese works. The story itself is enthralling and there is no one to tell it better.


7) Casino (1995)

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score80%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score93%
IMDb8.2
MetaCritic73

I’m assuming this will be the most controversial placement on the list. It’s a great movie, but those that follow are just better in my opinion (insert shoulder-shrug dude emoji here.) This is the true story of Sam Rothstein, also known as “Ace.” A Jewish man who manages to maneuver a mafia (Italian) ran industry/casino, and do so with Eagle Eye precision and remarkable composure, despite working for; and with some very ruthless people. Joe Pesci, Sharon Stone, Kevin Pollack, and Don Rickles delight on the screen with the leading man, Robert De Niro. Pesci, as we’ve come to know him, nails the part of a vetted mobster. Many consider this Robert De Niro’s last “great role,” and that may be true. Nonetheless, it’s a great film.


6) Gangs of New York (2002)

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score73%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score81%
IMDb7.5
MetaCritic72

Guess who? Leonardo Dicaprio. Hey, when you know how to pick em, you know how to pick em, and Martin knows a world-class actor when he sees one. However, there is a twist. Leo is upstaged by legendary actor, Daniel Day-Lewis. To say Lewis is outstanding is a massive understatement. On any other list, this film would rank higher, but we are talking about the G.O.A.T. of film-making. Set in 1860s New York, Dicaprio plays Amsterdam Vallon, an Irish immigrant seeking revenge for the murder of his father, William Cutting, known as ‘The Butcher,” and for good reason. Cutting is played by Lewis. The two are friendly for a time, and ultimately enemies as Dicarpio looks to lead his Irish brothers and sisters to a safe place.

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