The mafia has always fascinated moviegoers. There is something about watching criminals making easy money and living glamorous lives that is appealing. With thick accents and unique weapon choices, the action never stops and the stories of those living on the other side of the law can still pack a punch. What follows is a look at the top 10 best gangster movies to come out of Hollywood.
10. Scarface (1983)
While Scarface is a gritty, dark film that looks at organized crime and the drug trade that comes with it, this 1983 still delivers a powerful story. It is unapologetic in the way it delivers powerful blows and over the top violence for the sake of taking the story to the next level. The passion, beautiful cinematography and honesty of the movie are why so many people still rank this among the top 10 best gangster movies of all time.
When Goodfellas was released, people weren’t too keen on the idea of someone like Ray Liotta playing Henry Hill. However, the casting proved to be perfect. This film that also stars Joe Pesci and Robert De Niro depicts Henry becoming part of the Lucchese crime family, which was a dream come true for him. Based on the non-fiction title, “Wiseguy” this film explores drugs, bank heists and the rise and fall of people in the industry. This is a film that proved that Scorsese knew quite a bit about making a quality film and had the power to make a gritty film feel like a home movie.
8. Reservoir Dogs
When Joe Cabot hires six strangers to pull off the perfect crime, none of them could identify the others. But as the job goes down, Mr. Brown is killed and Mr. Orange is injured as the crime is hit by a police sting. The group struggled to figure out how the police knew about what was going down and suddenly realize that there was someone in the group who was working as a police informant. The cinematography is dark; the story is paranoid and with the neurotic pacing of the film leaves you breathless from start to finish.
7. Casino (1995)
This intense Martin Scorsese film looks at Las Vegas beyond the glitz and glamour. It also looks at how cruel and brutal the city has the potential to be. The film showcases just how involved the mob was in the casinos from the 1970s and the 1980s. Focusing on the Tangiers casino, the story focuses on the life of Ace who runs the casino and his love for hustler Ginger. At the same time, his best friend succumbs to drugs and violence, which shows both sides of the classic gangster tale.
6. The Untouchables
In 1920s Chicago, prohibition is alive and well, but so is a corrupt legal system that favors the underworld. When Eliot Ness takes on Al Capone with two cops and an accountant, he has the odds against him when it comes to Capone’s empire. This film explores just how powerful the notorious crime boss is. With excellent writing and brilliant acting, it is still celebrated as being one of the top 10 best gangster films.
5. Bonnie & Clyde (1967)
Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway deliver a powerful performance as the most infamous crime duo. Taking place in the 1930s, the two meet as Clyde attempts to rob Bonnie but instead finds a partner for a legendary crime spree. They eventually build a classic crime family that includes C. W. Moss and Buck Barrow who support the duo as they fall in love and fire endless rounds of ammo. While this gritty film captures your imagination, it won’t be until the final scene when you will feel your heart break.
4. City of God (2002)
In 1960s Brazil, the gang known as The Tender Trio begins starts robbing gas trucks and motels. By the 1970s, the gang has grown and Li’l Ze of the trio has taken over the city. He wipes out gangs before they become too strong and he ensures fear runs in the city. Bene still guides Li’l Ze to make some humane choices while Rocket has put the last two years behind him and is focused more on taking pictures now. This film looks at the darkness found in the world of gangsters while delivering beautiful cinematography.
3. The Godfather Part II
This film continues to follow the Corleone family as they enter the casino business as they keep growing in power. Michael’s paranoia and malevolent nature gives the film its sinister, brutal feeling while it explores a parallel tale about his father’s escape from Sicily. This is a film you will feel long after it is over and it is among the greatest films of all time.
2. Once Upon a Time in America (1984)
Robert De Niro and James Woods star in this brooding, atmospheric film that follows Jewish gangsters in New York. The film follows the tale from the glory days of their youth to their rise during the Prohibition era.
1. The Godfather
Marlon Brando and Al Pacino deliver a haunting performance in this classic film. Francis Ford Coppola continues to be praised for this look at the lavish lifestyle of an Italian-American crime family. Standing with the Sicilian tradition and leaving viewers realizing that no matter how normal a family may seem, there may always be something darker lurking inside of them. That is why this is the best of the top 10 gangster movies of all time.