Every Martin Scorsese Movie Ranked

Martin Scorsese has had one of the most illustrious careers in Hollywood. From his start making studio pictures to his pivot into imaginative biopics, Scorsese has become synonymous with auteur filmmaking.

With 26 films in his catalog, each picture Scorsese directs feels attached to the director yet uniquely its own. Female-led dramas like Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore starkly contrast his gangster films like Goodfellas, yet each film is instantly recognizable as a Scorsese picture. These are our favorite Martin Scorsese films, from best to worst.

Raging Bull: Martin Scorsese’s Best Film

Photo Credit: United Artist.

Raging Bull tells the true story of boxer Jake LaMotta and his turbulent life in and out of the ring. Where Raging Bull shines is Robert DeNiro’s acting, which brings the boxer to life. Shot totally in black and white, the film is Scorsese’s first foray into biography filmmaking and also his best.

Martin Scorsese has a talent for turning little-known stories into big-screen spectacles. Raging Bull is his finest example of that, with the story of Jake LaMotta on paper being less than extraordinary. Everything Scorsese and DeNiro do in this film, though, takes the story and humanizes it in a way very few artists could.

Watching Jake’s story is both heartbreaking and inspiring. Knowing the mistakes he made, the places he’s been, and his attempts at relevancy make the final scene of the Raging Bull a beautiful coda to a fantastic film. DeNiro brings this life, reminding us that he could have been somebody. He could have been a contender.

Goodfellas: Martin Scorsese’s Best Gangster Film

Photo Credit: Warner Bros.

Goodfellas does for the gangster film genre what Saving Private Ryan did for war films. Rather than tell a generic story that glorifies mob life, Scorsese takes the true story of a mafioso turned FBI informant and creates a cautionary tale.

Long-time Scorsese collaborator Robert DeNiro shines as a mob boss and Ray Liotta gives the best performance of his career as a young man trying to make it in the violence-filled industry. The true-story nature of the film gives it an air of realism that is often missing in the crime genre. The Godfather and its sequel may be the pinnacle of mafia films, but Goodfellas is a close second.

Taxi Driver: A Violent Spiral Into 1970s New York

Photo Credit: Columbia Pictures.

The tragic story of Travis Bickle and his nights driving a cab in New York is as powerful and relevant today as in 1976. DeNiro again steals the show, perfectly playing a mentally unstable Vietnam vet at a time before the word incel was coined.

Travis is the ultimate antihero. He is a man with more problems than potential, leaving the audience uncomfortable with almost every decision he makes. The legacy of Taxi Driver is that despite all this evil and depravity we see on screen, we still feel a twinge of sympathy for Travis.

Travis is a victim of war who comes home to a city that too closely resembles the hell he just left. The film is one of the first to offer an unflinching look at mental illness but never offers a solution. It gives us a look into the mind of instability, but rather than offer redemption, the film just allows Travis to exist. A dangerous man forgotten by his government and unnoticed by his city.

Killers Of The Flower Moon: A Western Epic

Photo Credit: Apple.

Scorsese’s newest film features many staples that make his movies instant classics. It has a captivating true story, amazing performances from recognizable stars, and incredible set pieces. The standout, though, for Killers of the Flower Moon is the unforgettable performance given by Lily Gladstone as Molly Burkhart.

We often see a lot of scenery chewing and bombastic acting from supporting characters in Scorsese films. Not Lily Gladstone. Lily gives an understated performance, remaining stoic and unshaken despite the hardships she faces throughout the film.

Killers of the Flower Moon is an important retelling of the almost forgotten tragedy that befell the Osage Indians in rural Oklahoma. Scorsese tells this story with reverence for the lives lost and honor for those like Molly Burkhart who lived through the violent ordeal. Killers of the Flower Moon was one of our favorite films from 2023 and an instant classic in Scorsese’s filmography.

The Wolf Of Wall Street: Martin Scorsese’s Funniest True Crime Film

Photo Credit: Paramount Pictures.

Wolf of Wall Street follows the true story of Jordan Belfort, who turned a boiler room stock operation into a billion-dollar Ponzi scheme. The true story of Jordan and his company is hilarious and larger-than-life. The excellent cast of Leonardo DiCaprio, Margot Robbie, and Jonah Hill fully realizes the tale.

Critics criticized The Wolf of Wall Street for glamorizing Jordan’s exploits throughout the film. This isn’t the first time Scorsese has taken similar criticism, but we believe those criticisms to be unfounded. At the heart of Wolf of Wall Street is a cautionary tale of excess, greed, and ambivalence for victims of financial crime. The nuanced representation, showing the good and the bad that came from Jordan’s life, is why Wolf of Wall Street remains such a special film.

The Departed: Dual Narrative Masterpiece In South Boston

Photo Credit: Warner Bros.

The Departed was Martin Scorsese’s first film to take home the Oscar for best picture. While many do not believe this to be his best film, it is still an astounding retelling of the classic Hong Kong trilogy Infernal Affairs.

We loved The Departed’s dual narrative structure. It follows two men on either side of the law who infiltrate their enemy’s home. The acting is superb, with an unhinged performance from Jack Nicholson. The Departed remains one of Martin Scorsese’s best and most re-watchable films.

Casino: Decadence In The Dessert

Photo Credit: Universal.

Martin Scorsese’s 1995 epic Casino tells an adapted story of how the Mafia took over Las Vegas casinos in the 1970s. The film is brimming with style and impeccable acting from Scorsese regulars.

The film lands so high on our list for its sprawling narrative and tight script. Despite a run time of almost three hours, Scorsese keeps the story paced succinctly, and the film doesn’t overstay its welcome. Incredible performances from Joe Pesci and Sharon Stone are just the icing on the cake for this must-watch crime thriller.

The Last Temptation Of Christ: Scorsese’s Most Controversial Film

The Last Temptation Of Christ
Image Credit: Universal Pictures.

When Martin Scorsese set out to adapt the 1955 book The Last Temptation of Christ, he knew it would be controversial. The film depicts Jesus of Nazareth struggling to maintain his sinless life despite the various temptations that gather around him.

In the end, though, the film shouldn’t be as controversial as the Christian and Catholic communities make it out to be. Jesus never succumbs to any of these temptations and instead fulfills the prophecies laid out in the Bible. The most notable is his rejection of Satan while dying on the cross.

While Willam Dafoe, playing Christ, hangs on the cross, Satan comes to tempt him with the life he’ll never have. Jesus ultimately resists this temptation and fulfills his purpose. While the film is completely engulfed with religious themes, some ideologies can relate to anyone regardless of their beliefs—the beauty of an unremarkable life, one that the Jesus of the Bible will never get to live.

Cape Fear: Martin Scorsese’s Haunting Remake

Photo Credit: Universal.

How do you remake one of the most influential films from the 1960s? You get Scorsese and DeNiro together to create a faithful retelling.

Cape Fear tells the story of a violent criminal seeking revenge against the public defender whom he blames for his incarceration. Robert DeNiro and Juliette Lewis are standouts in the film, with DeNiro’s performance particularly haunting.

Shutter Island: A Twisty Thriller

Photo Credit: Paramount Pictures.

Shutter Island is an adaptation of the Dennis Lehane novel of the same name. Lehane’s work has been adapted to the screen several times, with masterpieces like Mystic River and Gone Baby Gone. While Shutter Island doesn’t reach the highs of some of his other adaptations, Scorsese faithfully retells the twisty plot, surprising audiences along the way.

The Irishman: Painting Houses With Scorsese’s Familiar Friends

Photo Credit: Netflix.

The Irishman is an epic three-and-a-half-hour film that tells the mostly true story of Frank Sheeran. DeNiro, as always, gives a stellar performance, but the supporting cast and decades-spanning narrative make The Irishman truly special.

The film famously used digital de-aging technology that allowed the actors to play their respective characters throughout the years. The technology created a bit of an uncanny valley effect but ultimately served the final product well. It’s also always great to See DeNiro and Al Pacino playing alongside one another.

Gangs Of New York: Leo And Scorsese’s First Collaboration

Photo Credit: Miramax.

Long before Leonardo DiCaprio played a drug-fueled banker or a murderous cowboy, he collaborated with Scorsese on Gangs of New York, a historical drama about rival New York gangs in the late 1800s.

Gangs of New York was nominated for several Academy Awards but failed to bring any home. The lack of accolades doesn’t stop this from being one of Scorsese’s finest films and the second to feature terrific actor Daniel Day-Lewis.

Bringing Out The Dead: A Deeply Personal Film For Scorsese

Photo Credit: Paramount Pictures.

Bringing Out the Dead stars Nicholas Cage as a New York area paramedic struggling with depression and the toils of his job. Martin Scorsese later stated in interviews how personal this film was for him.

Scorsese grew up in New York and vividly remembered paramedics helping those in need. He referred to them as “saints,” working tirelessly all night to save his city’s people. Nicholas Cage can embody this dichotomy and delivers a fantastic performance in this often-overlooked film.

The Age Of Innocence: Two Cinema Powerhouses Combine For An Epic Romance

Photo Credit: Columbia Pictures.

Daniel Day-Lewis stars opposite Michelle Pfieffer and Winona Ryder in this period piece romantic drama. The Age of Innocence came right at the peak of Day-Lewis’s meteoric rise in acting royalty, and it remains one of his best and most grounded performances.

The true standout in The Age of Innocence is the beautifully designed sets of late 1800s New York. Every scene is brimming with style, and the wardrobe perfectly matches Scorsese’s vision.

The King Of Comedy: Robert DeNiro’s Joker Inspiring Performance

Photo Credit: 20th Century Fox.

Taxi Driver and The King of Comedy were heavy inspirations for the 2019 Todd Phillips film Joker. While Taxi Driver shares more themes with Joker, The King of Comedy almost feels like a spiritual prequel to the film.

Robert DeNiro stars as Rupert Pupkin, a struggling New York comedian with dreams of making it on a late-night TV show. His dreams eventually become reality when he decides to kidnap the host and hold him for ransom in exchange for a set on his show.

The film isn’t as dark or gritty as later psychological thrillers. Still, it remains a unique look into one man’s descent into madness—and America’s sick obsession with the mentally unstable.

Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore: Ellen Burstyn’s Career-Defining Performance

Photo Credit: Warner Bros.

Ellen Burstyn steals every scene in this 1974 drama about moving on after a loss. The film stars Burstyn as a single mother after the death of her abusive husband. She spends the remainder of the film trying to build a better life for her rambunctious pre-teen.

Burstyn won the Oscar for Best Actress for this film, and it’s easy to see why. The care and love she brings to the character of Alice is unrivaled by even some of Hollywood’s greatest actors. Scorsese’s cinematography makes her performance all the better, perfectly capturing her emotions in every scene.

Mean Streets: Scorsese and DeNiro’s First Film Collaboration

Photo Credit: Warner Bros.

The first Marin Scorsese film to star Robert DeNiro is also his earliest mafia tale. Mean Streets tells the story of a young Harvey Keitel struggling between his faith and his career in the Mafia.

The film became Scorsese’s first big blockbuster and would pave the way for his other notable gangster films. Mean Streets is an incredible beginning to the gangster era of Scorsese’s filmography and is easy to watch over and over.

Who’s That Knocking At My Door: Martin Scorsese’s First Feature Length Film

Photo Credit: Joseph Brenner Associates.

Originally titled I Call First, a much better title, Who’s That Knocking at My Door, is the first feature-length film directed by Martin Scorsese. The film stars a young Harvey Keitel as a staunch catholic who can’t get past his girlfriend’s previous trauma.

The film is a bit ahead of its time, and while not Scorsese’s best work, it’s easy to see the young filmmaker’s raw talent. Throughout his career, Scorsese frequently returned to New York, drama, and themes of faith. Who’s Knocking at My Door was an excellent introduction for the director and is still very watchable today.

The Aviator: The Rise And Fall Of Howard Hughes

Photo Credit: Miramax.

No one delves into insanity and human downfall better than Martin Scorsese. The Aviator tells the true story of eccentric billionaire Howard Hughes. While Howard Hughes made a significant impact in the aerospace and philanthropy sectors, he ultimately succumbed to debilitating OCD in his later years.

The portrait of Howard Hughes is fascinating, and Scorsese’s direction and Dicaprio’s acting make it even better. The Aviator may not be Martin Scorsese’s most memorable film, but it remains a standout in American biographical films.

Hugo: An Often Forgotten Scorsese Gem

Photo Credit: Paramount.

Even in new and emerging media, leave it to Martin Scorsese to swing for the fences; Hugo was shot entirely in 3D at a time when Hollywood believed this would become the new standard for filmmaking. Unfortunately, the 3D effect became more of a renaissance fad, and Hugo is often forgotten with the trend.

This is unfortunate as Hugo is still a wonderfully shot and produced film, even without the gimmick. It’s rare to see a children’s film written and directed with such care, but Scorsese nails the heartfelt script.

Silence: Scorsese’s Return To Themes Of Faith

Photo Credit: Paramount.

The pre-production for Scorsese’s 24th film was tumultuous, to say the least. The film was in development for almost 25 years, and the result is not quite what audiences were hoping for.

Silence tells the story of two Jesuit Priests in the 1600s as they spread their message of faith and search for a lost mentor. Andrew Garfield and Adam Driver brilliantly act the film, but the slow pacing can make it a bit of a drag to watch.

The Color Of Money: Tom Cruise Hustles Paul Newman

Photo Credit: Beuna Vista.

The Color of Money is one of Martin Scorsese’s rare sequels. A sequel to the 1961 film The Hustler, it brings back Paul Newman as pool shark Fast Eddie. Eddie sees great talent in a young Tom Cruise and attempts to make him a star in pool halls across America.

This film was released at a strange time in Tom Cruise’s career. Tom seemed to be searching for recognition in Hollywood and started taking roles in more serious films with famed directors. While Tom Cruise has still yet to win an Oscar, The Color of Money is one of his strongest films and shows off the actor’s range.

After Hours: A Black Comedy From The Master Of Drama

Photo Credit: Warner Bros.

After Hours is a genre-bending film that combines film noir and black comedy. It stars Griffin Dune as a young professional living in New York who encounters a comedy of errors on one fateful night.

Griffin gives a great performance, but Rosanna Arquette ends up stealing the show. Despite being well-regarded then, After Hours hasn’t aged as well as some of Scorsese’s other notable works.

Kundun: A Disney Buried Spiritual Epic

Photo Credit: Beuna Vista.

Kundun is a massive film, even for Martin Scorsese. The film is another spiritual tale from Scorsese, but this time, the subject is the Dali Lama.

Kundun’s unrefined script suffers the most. The film is disjointed, and even though the run time is barely two hours, it feels much longer. Disney ultimately buried the film due to concerns over the Chinese government.

New York New York: A Liza Minelli Led Musical

Photo Credit: United Artist.

New York New York was a bold project that didn’t end up serving Martin Scorsese’s talents. The film is a musical starring Liza Minnelli, and while she gives a terrific performance, the rest of the film falls flat. Still, it is hard to fault a director for taking such big risks, especially so early in his career.

Boxcar Bertha: An Exploitation Film From The Master Of Cinema

Photo Credit: American International.

Boxcar Bertha is such a large departure for Scorsese that it’s surprising this film exists in his catalog. The film is an exploitation flick set in the 1930s that features copious amounts of sex and violence.

Grindhouse Movies like this were commonplace in the ’60s and ’70s, and while Boxcar Bertha isn’t as graphic as some of the worst from this era, it is still a far cry from the director we know today.

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