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Best Scorsese movies

  • Best Scorsese movies

    With “The Irishman” right around the corner, now is the perfect time to revisit Martin Scorsese’s prolific career. From his earliest feature film onward, the director has distinguished himself as a singular and passionate voice in American cinema. He’s also one of the medium’s foremost historians, who’s always eager to share and expound upon his favorite works. Pair that vast knowledge with copious amounts of personal perspective and the result is one of the most rewarding and distinctive oeuvres in movie history.

    Inexorably linked to Scorsese’s output are two key influences: His early love of movies and his upbringing in New York’s Little Italy. Stricken with asthma at a very young age, he spent lots of time in front of the TV or at the local movie theater. Films such as 1947’s “Black Narcissus” taught him about stylistic techniques while films like 1948’s “Bicycle Thieves” and “Rome, Open City” connected him with his Italian roots.

    All the while, the young Scorsese was absorbing the various personalities and exchanges outside his front door, later referring to his neighborhood as being "like a village in Sicily." It’s the confluence of these two factors that would come to define early efforts such as “Who’s that Knocking at My Door” and, more famously, 1973’s “Mean Streets.” The city of New York itself would likewise provide the setting for a number of his most iconic films.

    If there’s one more main ingredient to Scorsese’s unique perspective, it’s the role that faith has played in his life. Hoping to emulate his favorite local priest, he enrolled in seminary school as a teenager, only to get kicked out one year later. Nevertheless, his Catholic faith remains fundamental to both his outlook on life and several of his most personal films. It’s for this reason that he spent decades developing passion projects such as “The Last Temptation of Christ” and “Silence.”

    Today, Stacker is ranking Scorsese’s movies from worst to best. To create the list, Stacker compiled all the IMDb data on feature films directed by Martin Scorsese, ranking each one according to its user rating, and breaking any ties by the number of votes. Feature films co-directed by Scorsese were included, but documentaries and short films were not. Here are the best Martin Scorsese movies.

    You may also like: Best Robert De Niro movies

  • #25. Boxcar Bertha (1972)

    - IMDb user rating: 6.1
    - Votes: 7,630
    - Metascore: 61
    - Runtime: 88 min

    Scorsese would achieve much greater things than this low-budget “Bonnie & Clyde” knock-off from 1972. Produced by B-movie legend Roger Corman, it comes chock full of leaden performances and exploitative violence. The story follows the title character (Barbara Hershey) and a union man (David Carradine) on a Depression-era crime spree.

  • #24. New York Stories (1989)

    - IMDb user rating: 6.4
    - Votes: 15,878
    - Metascore: data not available
    - Runtime: 124 min

    This 1989 anthology film comprises three different segments, only one of which was directed by Scorsese. Dubbed “Life Lessons,” it centers on the turbulent relationship between a middle-aged painter (Nick Nolte) and his younger assistant (Rosanna Arquette). Despite Scorsese’s iconic relationship with New York, critic Roger Ebert claimed that the director’s segment “could have been set in many big cities.”

  • #23. Who's That Knocking at My Door (1967)

    - IMDb user rating: 6.7
    - Votes: 7,320
    - Metascore: 63
    - Runtime: 90 min

    Scorsese’s feature debut takes place in Little Italy and stars Harvey Keitel as J.R., a man whose life is changed by a mysterious woman (Zina Bethune). Influenced by French New Wave cinema and the director’s personal experiences, it marked a bold new voice in American cinema. The movie’s themes of identity, faith, and masculinity would pop up time and again throughout Scorsese’s career. 

  • #22. New York, New York (1977)

    - IMDb user rating: 6.7
    - Votes: 16,460
    - Metascore: 62
    - Runtime: 155 min

    Actor Robert De Niro has appeared in nine Martin Scorsese feature films to date, including this atypical musical from 1977. Set just after WWII, it chronicles the rocky romance between a volatile saxophonist (De Niro) and talented pop singer (Liza Minnelli). When crooner Frank Sinatra recorded his version of the movie’s main theme in 1980, it became one of his most signature tunes

  • #21. Bringing Out the Dead (1999)

    - IMDb user rating: 6.8
    - Votes: 59,469
    - Metascore: 70
    - Runtime: 121 min

    Despite high expectations and positive reviews, this late-’90s drama from Scorsese and “Taxi Driver” scribe Paul Schrader was considered something of a letdown. Awash with the director’s audio-visual trademarks, it follows the exploits of a burnt-out NYC paramedic (Nicolas Cage). For the emergency room scenes, the film crew built a set on the ground floor of Bellevue Hospital. 

  • #20. Kundun (1997)

    - IMDb user rating: 7.0
    - Votes: 24,437
    - Metascore: 74
    - Runtime: 134 min

    No stranger to religious subject matter, Scorsese turned his attention toward Tibetan Buddhism in this biographical drama. Forced to flee from a Chinese invasion, the 14th Dalai Lama grows up in exile. It was released the same year as “Seven Years in Tibet,” performing less well at the box office but ranking higher amongst critics and viewers. 

  • #19. The Color of Money (1986)

    - IMDb user rating: 7.0
    - Votes: 68,683
    - Metascore: 77
    - Runtime: 119 min

    Reprising the role of "Fast Eddie" Felson, Paul Newman won his first and only Academy Award for Best Actor for this mid-’80s drama. Set 25 years after “The Hustler,” it sees Felson taking on a young and arrogant protégé played by Tom Cruise. Foreshadowing what would later become routine, Cruise performed nearly all of his own pool stunts

  • #18. Silence (2016)

    - IMDb user rating: 7.1
    - Votes: 87,184
    - Metascore: 79
    - Runtime: 161 min

    Decades in the making, this historical drama follows two 17th-century Jesuit priests (Andrew Garfield and Adam Driver) to Japan in search of their mentor (Liam Neeson). The film was a true passion project for Scorsese, who continues to uphold his Catholic faith. A box office flop, it divides viewers between those who think it’s overlooked and those who think it’s overlong.

  • #17. The Age of Innocence (1993)

    - IMDb user rating: 7.2
    - Votes: 44,975
    - Metascore: 90
    - Runtime: 139 min

    Edith Wharton’s classic novel leapt onto the big screen in 1993, with Scorsese handling both directing and co-writing duties. Set in 19th-century New York, it depicts the romantic entanglements of three well-heeled elitists (Daniel Day-Lewis, Michelle Pfeiffer, Winona Ryder). Five Academy Award nominations yielded just one win for Best Costume Design. 

  • #16. Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore (1974)

    - IMDb user rating: 7.3
    - Votes: 19,103
    - Metascore: 78
    - Runtime: 112 min

    Ellen Burstyn gives an Oscar-winning performance as Alice Hyatt in this critical and commercial hit, which exhibits a softer side of Martin Scorsese. Broke and widowed, Alice hits the road to pursue a singing career. Besides co-starring Kris Kristofferson, the movie features supporting roles from Harvey Keitel and a young Jodie Foster. 

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