Mean Streets, Taxi Driver, Raging Bull, Goodfellas, Casino, Gangs of New York, The Aviator, The Departed, Shutter Island and now Hugo are some of the best movies that writer and director Martin Scorsese brought to us in the past 48 years of his long lasting career. Very few men last this long in Hollywood so that alone is a testament of his greatness.
With the release of Hugo I’m thinking it’s a good time to celebrate Martin Scorsese, a man that managed to stay fresh after almost half a decade in an industry that tends to turn people rotten. This is a top 10 of the biggest box office hits directed by him. Grosses are North American only because some of his older movies, for obvious reasons, don’t have accurate data. To give a fair chance to all pictures I’ll use numbers adjusted for inflation and post unadjusted in a parentheses right after.
10. Casino (1995) $77.6 million ($42.5 million) – Based on the book by Nicholas Pileggi and starring Robert De Niro, Sharon Stone (nominated for an Oscar here), Joe Pesci and Frank Woods, Casino is a violent crime drama that follows the story of Sam “Ace” Rothstein (Roberd De Niro) as he tries to run a mob-owned casino in Las Vegas. If you haven’t seen it already you definitely should.
9. Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore (1974) $79.1 million ($18.6 million) – Nominated for 3 Oscars, it won a single one for Ellen Burstyn, lead actress. This is the story of Alice (Ellen Burstyn), a widow trying to find her way along with her 11-year-old son. A young Kris Kristofferson plays David, a farmer that finds his way into the heart of Alice.
8. Goodfellas (1990) $88.2 million ($46.8 million) – Another collaboration between Nicholas Pileggi (book and screenplay) and Martin Scorsese, Goodfellas was nominated for 6 Oscars, winning one for Joe Pesci. Also starring Robert De Niro and Ray Liotta, Goodfellas is considered by some to be the best movie Martin Scorsese directed to date.
7. Gangs of New York (2002) $103.6 million ($77.8 million) – Nominated for 10 Oscars and winning none, Gangs of New York was the first in what would become a long and prosperous collaboration between Martin Scorsese and Leonardo DiCaprio. A vengeance story of one Amsterdam Vallon (DiCaprio) set in 1863, this is one movie you can’t miss.
6. Taxi Driver (1976) $103.7 million ($28.2 million) – When someone says Martin Scorsese, Taxi Driver is the first movie that comes to my mind. Starring Robert De Niro and a very young Jodie Foster, Taxi Driver needs no introduction. What movie buff doesn’t remember the story of war veteran turned taxi driver and his quest to save the teenage prostitute played by Jodie Foster?
5. The Color of Money (1986) $112.2 million ($52.3 million) – Sequel of The Hustler (1961), The Color of Money won Paul Newman an Oscar. Tom Cruise played the hustler’s (Newman) protégé. This was quite a different movie for Martin Scorsese and deserves your attention if you’re a fan of either Newman or Cruise.
4. Shutter Island (2010) $128.1 million ($128 million) – Based on the 2003 Dennis Lehane novel, Shutter Island is another Martin Scorsese film starring Leonardo DiCaprio. The psychological thriller tells the story of a detective investigating a psychiatric facility located on an island, specifically the disappearance of a murderess. A movie where nothing is at is seems, definitely worthy of your attention.
3. The Aviator (2004) $128.2 million ($102.6 million) – And another movie where Scorsese casts Leonardo DiCaprio in the leading role. The Aviator is a biopic depicting the life of eccentric millionaire Howard Hughes. Nominated for 11 Oscars, The Aviator won 5, Best Art Direction, Cinematography, Costume Design, Film Editing and Actress in a supporting role (Cate Blanchett playing Katharine Hepburn). This is one of my favorite Scorsese films and part of that is because of the subject matter (aviation).
2. Cape Fear (1991) $150.1 million ($79 million) – One man that’s been in more Scorsese movies then DiCaprio is Robert De Niro, the star of Cape Fear. A remake of the 1962 film of the same name, this thriller follows a convicted rapist stocking the family of the lawyer that defended him. Cape Fear was nominated for two Oscars, Best Actor (Roberd De Niro) and Best supporting actress (Juliet Lewis).
1. The Departed (2006) $160.1 million ($132.3 million) – It took seven nominations before Martin Scorsese finally won his first Oscar for this movie. Here Scorsese returns to a more familiar ground with a crime drama about corruption. A remake of the 2002 Hong Kong film Infernal Affairs, The Departed stars Leonardo DiCaprio, Matt Damon, Jack Nicholson, Mark Wahlberg (nominated for an Oscar), Martin Sheen and Alec Baldwin. It won 4 Oscars in 2007 including Best Picture and Director.
Before ending this I have to mention Raging Bull, a film that almost made it in the top 10 ($69.1 million adjusted for inflation). Again starring Robert De Niro (won him an Oscar), Raging Bull tells the story of boxer Jake La Motta and the ups of his career and downs of his life. While not as popular as Rocky (1976) it’s just as good if not better.