Today marks a milestone birthday for one of Hollywood’s most acclaimed directors: Martin Scorsese is turning 75!
I was initially going to try to highlight a few of Scorsese’s “best” movies to commemorate his latest trip around the sun, but once I reviewed his filmography again I thought, “There’s just no way to do this.” So instead I will share what my favorite movies of his are — and I will say upfront that I know people will disagree with my list. But that’s the great thing about movies: everyone’s going to have opinions and no one is wrong about what they personally enjoy the most. So here it goes. These are my 5 favorite Scorsese movies, in no particular order:
The Color of Money (1986) – Paul Newman won the Academy Award for Best Actor for reprising his role as pool shark “Fast Eddie” Felson in this follow-up to director Robert Rossen’s 1961 The Hustler. Tom Cruise is at Peak Tom Cruise (this was the same year Top Gun came out, remember!) as Eddie’s mentee Vincent Lauria, plus you’ve got the instantly likable theme song “It’s in the Way that You Use It” by Eric Clapton that still holds up after all these years. AND the movies was shot all around Chicago, where I live.
Cape Fear (1991) – I do not like scary movies. And while this one is technically a thriller and not an outright horror film, it’s a horror film to me. To this day I still get freaked out when I think of Robert De Niro’s terrifying psychopath Max Cady. And for some reason I also still get spooked by Juliette Lewis’s performance. (Both De Niro and Lewis earned Oscar nominations for their roles, so I guess they got under other people’s skin, too.) So Cape Fear isn’t one I will ever watch AGAIN, but I have to give credit where credit is due and list it as a favorite because of the affect it still has on me.
The Aviator (2005)– I’m a sucker for biographies about weird famous people. It doesn’t get much weirder than Howard Hughes (frequent Scorsese collaborator Leonardo DiCaprio, earning a Best Actor Oscar nomination), an aviation pioneer and film director who suffered from extreme paranoia and debilitating OCD. On top of the fascinating story, you’ve got a stellar cast that includes Cate Blanchett, Kate Beckinsale, Alec Baldwin and John C. Reilly.
The Departed (2006) – Absolutely everything was astounding about the Boston crime drama that finally earned Scorsese his sole Oscar win to date. He was in his sweet spot with this tale about guilt-ridden moles within both the Irish mob and the Massachusetts State Police, and he had the most incredible cast at his disposal, from Matt Damon and Leonardo DiCaprio (again) to Jack Nicholson, Mark Wahlberg and Alec Baldwin (again). There are even more A-listers in the mix, but I’m too lazy to keep typing out all of them because the list is that long.
The Wolf of Wall Street (2013) – It is not possible for me to love Scorsese’s polarizing take on the true story of stockbroker Jordan Belfort’s (DiCaprio yet again) rise and fall any more than I already do. I used to work with traders, so perhaps I understood that the joke was on them in this dramedy about Wall Street’s excesses, while others were offended. But I could watch DiCaprio and Jonah Hill (as Belfort’s business partner) play off of each other all day, every day. And let’s not forget about Matthew McConaughey as Belfort’s boss, whose chest-pounding chant launched a thousand memes.
So what do you think of my list? Do I amuse you with it . . . make you laugh?
(That’s my lame attempt to pacify Goodfellas fans.)
What are your top 5 Scorsese movies?