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The 15 Best Mafia Movies Of All Time

04 Aug 2016 | By FunkyFlixx

The 15 Best Mafia Movies Of All Time

The mafia movie genre has given us some of the finest works of film history. On the surface they are violent and vulgar, but beneath all the bloodletting they explore important themes of morality, family, and revenge.

All of which comes together to offer a good three hours of entertainment. Unless, of course, you are Sergio Leone who prefers four. [Yes, you might want to “see a man about a horse” before this one]

Now put on your hat and long coats because here are the top 15 mafia flicks ever made.

Disclaimer: The list doesn’t include the likes of Pulp Fiction, Reservoir Dogs, Drive or Bonnie and Clyde, as we feel those deserve their own list on Gangster Movies.

15. Road to Perdition [2002]
The 15 Best Mafia Movies Of All Time Road to Perdition
Follows Rooney (Tom Hanks) and his son Michael as they run from the jealous child of a mafia bosss. The film is driven by Hanks’ intense performance as a man seeking both revenge and redemption, classic mafia. The cinematography is breathtaking, the final work of the great Conrad Hall who took home the Academy Award for Best Cinematography in 2003.

14. Eastern Promises [2007]
The 15 Best Mafia Movies Of All Time Eastern Promises
Eastern Promises is one of the finest mafia movies to have come out in recent times. The movie centers on Anna (Naomi Watts) whose path crosses with Nikolai (Viggo Mortensen), a mysterious and dangerous man with ties to the Russian Mafia in London. The movie’s excellent pacing, cast performance and violence will leave you begging for more. And how about Viggo Mortensen’s Russian accent eh?

13. American Gangster [2007]
The 15 Best Mafia Movies Of All Time American Gangster
We know, we know, the movie has "Gangster" on its title, however, the movie is more Mafia themed than you would think. Frank Lucas (Denzel Washington), a chauffeur, works his way up the Harlem crime world through his smart and decisive moves after his boss, a crime kingpin himself, dies. As it is with every crime boss, there is a cop, played by Russell Crowe, who looks to bring him down. The tension and violence in this film is exceptional, with a certain satisfying thrill. The only thing you can say about Denzel’s performance is, “My man!”

12. True Romance [1993]
The 15 Best Mafia Movies Of All Time True Romance
In this early sign of Quentin Tarantino’s brilliance, a nerdy loser (Christian Slater) marries a prostitute (Patricia Arquette) which leads to him stealing her pimp’s cocaine. This does not board well with the Mob as they start off a murderous manhunt for the main characters. Filled with the trademark Tarantino sharp dialogue, dark humor and bloody violence, the movie will make you appreciate the fact that no mafia boss has ever asked whether you are Sicilian before. RIP James Gandolfini.

11. Carlito’s Way [1993]
The 15 Best Mafia Movies Of All Time Carlito’s Way
One of the best in a long list of hits by the great Brian De Palma. The movie focuses on Carlito (Al Pacino), who has just been released from prison, and his lawyer, Dave Kleinfeld (Sean Penn) as they deal with dangerous crime boss Benny Blanco (John Leguizamo). Al Pacino and Sean Penn? What more could you ask for?

10. Donnie Brasco [1997]
The 15 Best Mafia Movies Of All Time Donnie Brasco
FBI agent, Joseph Pistone (Johnny Depp), infiltrates a major mafia family in New York. He develops a true friendship with Mafioso Benjamin "Lefty" Ruggiero (Al Pacino) which leads to him questioning his safety, his morality and even his sanity. If you are not impressed by the end of this film... you know what, Fergeddaboudid!, it is a guarantee you will enjoy this film.

9. A Bronx Tale [1993]
The 15 Best Mafia Movies Of All Time A Bronx Tale
1993 seems to have been the banner year as far as mafia films go. A Bronx Tale centers around teen Calogero (Lillo Brancato) who develops a friendship with local mobster Sonny (Chazz Palminteri). This worries his father (Robert De Niro), who wants a better life for his son. The directorial effort by De Niro is magnificent. He redefined greed, manipulation and family in mafia films. You will realize that there truly is nothing sadder than wasted talent.

8. Miller’s Crossing [1990]
The 15 Best Mafia Movies Of All Time Miller’s Crossing
The Coen Brothers took Hollywood by storm with this prohibition era neo-noir flick. The movie is a rollercoaster of love and violence culminating in a memorable finale. Plus it does get extra points for the longest Tommy Gun shootout scene ever!

7. Casino [1995]
The 15 Best Mafia Movies Of All Time Casino
The last collaboration of the wise-guy trinity of Robert De Niro, Joe Pesci and Martin Scorcese, until the highly anticipated The Irishman. The two actors flourish as Sam "Ace" Rothstein and Nick Santoro respectively who face love, lust, revenge and violence while running the Tangiers Casino. Sharon Stone gives an amazing performance too. This movie is classic Scorcese; from long tracking shots to use of jazz music and lots of cussing. Place your money on this one, it is a sure thing.

6. The Untouchables [1987]
The 15 Best Mafia Movies Of All Time The Untouchables
Did someone say Brian De Palma? Yes, the king of Hollywood crime movies returns to the list with yet another classic entry. This one focuses on prohibition agent Eliot Ness (Kevin Costner) as he tries to take down crime boss Al Capone, played by the fantastic Robert De Niro. Just wait for the stairway shootout with the baby in a trolley, simply cinematic gold.

5. The Departed [2006]
The 15 Best Mafia Movies Of All Time The Departed
A Hollywood remake of Hong Kong film Infernal Affairs. It stars Leonardo DiCaprio as undercover cop, Matt Damon as a mob mole inside the police and Jack Nicholson as Frank Costello, an Irish mob boss. But wait, there is more! The movie earned Martin Scorcese his first Academy award for directing. It is a pulsating movie to watch. In the words of Frank Costello, “This aint reality TV!” Lookout for Easter eggs hidden in several scenes.

4. Once Upon a Time in America [1984]
Once Upon a Time in America
This movie is evidence that studio executives can destroy a director’s masterpiece by overreaching. Director Sergio Leone’s final film was originally set to have a four hour runtime; however, the American theatrical release was only half that time. It faced quite a level of hostility on its release. However, the director’s cut is now widely considered the best movie ever made. The film shows a life of friendship, love, betrayal and vengeance, which accompanied with Ennio Morricone’s haunting score, provides the finest 4 hours of cinema. Ah, the prohibition era.

3. Scarface [1983]
The 15 Best Mafia Movies Of All Time Scarface
This is turning out to be a faceoff between Brian De Palma and Martin Scorcese. In Arguably the most quotable movie ever made, De Palma directs a vibrant Al Pacino in the iconic role of Tony Montana. The movie tells the story of Tony as he rises from a poor immigrant to the top of the LA criminal underworld. On the way, he makes enemies through bloodshed and cartel drug deals in a fantastically thrilling ride for any audience. Oh and, Say hello to my little friend! (Sorry, we couldn’t resist)

2. Goodfellas [1990]
The 15 Best Mafia Movies Of All Time Goodfellas
As far back as we can remember, we always wanted to write about this movie. See what we did there? Wait, you think we’re funny? Funny how?... Henry Hill (Ray Liotta), Tommy DeVito (Joe Pesci) and James Conway (Robert DeNiro), part of the mob in New York, are involved in robbery, extortion, violence and even drug trafficking, and these are the good guys!

Liotta turns in a performance for the ages. The movie is incredibly gripping with fantastic long takes of the violent lives of wise-guys. The film covers themes of family, friendship, violence and drug abuse. In true Scorcese fashion, the movie also set a cussword record upon its release.

1. The Godfather Trilogy [1972-1990]
The 15 Best Mafia Movies Of All Time The Godfather Trilogy
The only reason The Godfather Trilogy is on top of the list is because it gave us an offer we couldn’t refuse. Kidding aside, the first two movies of this Francis Ford Coppola trilogy are considered by many to be the finest movies ever made. The third entry however was bashed by critics and audiences alike as it failed to capture the magic of its predecessors.

However, if you are looking for classic mafia storytelling, this is the trilogy for you. Great performances are riddled throughout, including James Caan as Sonny Corleone, Al Pacino as Micheal Corleone, Robert De Niro a young Vito Corleone and of course, Marlon Brando as Don Corleone.

Betrayal and family are widely explored throughout the films giving the audience a detailed experience of life in crime. Remember when we said you need to see a man about a horse? Well, Mr. Copolla had other ideas.

Honourable Mentions
Black Mass [2015], Mean Streets [1973], Bugsy [1991], Gangster Squad [2013]

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