“Once I thought I was out…they pulled me back in” – Al Pacino as Michael Corleone in The Godfather: Part III
I promise you that the quote above is the only time I will ever associate The Godfather: Part III with the finest mafia movies of our time, but if you are reading this then I have successfully “pulled [you] back in” to see the rest of The Campus Socialite’s favorite mob films. Don’t read another word until you finish Part I of our Cosa Nostra classics. Once you’re up to speed join us after the jump to break down the final five below.
5. Casino (1995)
Crime film alumni Robert DeNiro and Joe Pesci turn in their best performance together in Casino, the partly true story of how the New York mafia families infiltrated legitimate casinos in Las Vegas. Sharon Stone and James Woods turn in solid performances as strung out crackheads that jeopardize DeNiro’s Vegas empire. Martin Scorsese scores his first of several films on the list.
4. The Departed (2006)
Jack Nicholson, Matt Damon and Leonardo DiCaprio weave an ever-increasing tangle of lies and deceit in The Departed, Martin Scorsese’s most recent gangster film. The scene is Boston, where young Billy Costigan (DiCaprio) is recruited by the Boston Police Department to infiltrate and take down crime boss Frank Costello (Nicholson). Few saw the twist-ending coming.
3. Goodfellas (1990)
Martin Scorcese dramatizes the rise and fall of real life mafioso Henry Hill in this violent, engrossing movie. Ray Liotta stars as Hill who is sucked into the glamorous if dangerous mob life only to ultimately betray it as a government informant. The movie is filled with multi-dimensional characters and an insider’s view of how the mob works. Oscar-winning performance by Joe Pesci as a crazy made guy who, well, doesn’t quite make it to the end of the film. Robert DeNiro and The Sopranos Lorraine Bracco also star. Arguments can be made for Goodfellas as the #1 mafia movie, but it’s all a matter of preference when it gets this good.
2. The Godfather: Part II (1974)
They say sequels never measure up, but somehow, this continuing story of the Corleone mafia family pulls it off. The Godfather II won an Oscar like its predecessor and gave us a flashback look at the young Don Corleone’s rise to power. Hey, look, it’s Robert DeNiro speaking authentic Italian. Interweaves the past and present of the family, creating another dark and twisted tale with Pacino and DeNiro as the central figures.
1. The Godfather (1972)
Based on the book by Mario Puzo, you can find few movies that have the dark tone and gripping epic feel of Francis Ford Coppola’s The Godfather. With Al Pacino as the son who almost broke free and Marlon Brando as the garbled ultimate Don, The Godfather is the gold standard of mob movies. Great casting, painstaking direction, scary and riveting story, relatable themes, and some of the most quoted lines in movie history.
This list just represents the opinions of The Campus Socialite. I am sure each and every one of you has your own ideas on the best mafia movies of our time. We’re giving you permission to break DeNiro’s rule from Goodfellas, so you don’t always have to “keep your mouth shut,” as we encourage you to let your opinions be known below in the comments section.