Top 10 Exciting Gangster and Mafia Movies Worthy of Your Time

Tags: #TheGodfather ,   #TheIrishman ,   #Goodfellas ,   #Mafia ,   #MovieNight

Mark Kirchman

Mark Kirchman

Last updated:  2022-06-16 18:02:45

If you think of a mafia, you will, most probably, automatically imagine a lavish and dangerous lifestyle. While gangsters could have everything they wanted, they often couldn't enjoy it for too long. At least, that's what we've learned from many of the best mafia movies. So check out the top ten worthy of your time as we begin our countdown!

10. Eastern Promises

Here's a trailer for this fantastic movie!

This David Cronenberg's 2007 movie is a spectacular story about the notorious Vory V Zakone brotherhood in the London underworld. The movie is intriguing from the start as a teenager dies while giving birth, opening a connection to a potential rape involving the mafia.

This could just be the best acting performance of Viggo Mortensen, which earned him an Oscar nomination for the Actor in the Lead Role. Of course, if you are a fan of this talented performer, we also recommend watching "A History of Violence." This movie is another Cronenberg masterpiece with two Oscar nominations attached.

9. City of God

A true masterpiece

Based on Paulo Lins' semi-autobiographical book, this 2002 movie is a breathtaking story about two young adults whose life paths take different turns. While one of the boys wishes to be a photographer, the other becomes a street gang member in Rio. Yet, their lives cross paths once again later.

"City of God" has been in the top 100 movies on the IMDB list for a very long time, and that's one of the reasons you should see it! Fernando Meirelles and Katia Lund, a Brazilian duo, created this masterpiece with four Oscar nominations. It combines documentary and cinematic visual styles, with slightly disturbing images of baby-faced kids being part of street gangs.

8. Miller's Crossing

We highly recommend you see this movie

The Coen brothers, Joel and Ethan, have done some impressive work with this movie. The story is about the 1920s crime boss who has problems with the different mobs at war. The movie is worth a watch, and its impressive cast and memorable dialogues make this 115 minutes-long thriller fly by.

"Miller's Crossing" is often mentioned when talking about the best films of all time. Yet, it was a financial disaster, as it earned only $5 million at the box office. While many of the best gangster movies suffered the same fate, time has been kind to them.

7. Scarface

One of the movies that made Al Pacino a living legend!

Violence, drugs, sex, guns, mafia? Mix all of this with an acting legend such as Al Pacino, and you got yourself one of the best mafia movies ever! Of course, how it can't be with such a cast, including Michelle Pfeiffer as a co-star providing an astonishing performance!

The main character, Tony Montana, goes on a dangerous journey from Cuba to the USA, where he becomes a prominent figure in the cocaine scene. This movie, released in 1983, took its name from Howard Hawks' 1932 movie inspired by the life of Al Capone. Altogether, this masterpiece is about a proud and stubborn figure who takes nothing from anyone.

6. Once Upon a Time in America

"Once Upon a Time in America" and its most iconic moments!

Sergio Leone's most magnificent work, "Once Upon a Time in America," came out in 1984. This movie is about a group of young European immigrants battling their way for their own brighter future at the beginning of the 20th century in New York City. You can find the original story behind this movie in the Harry Grey novel, "The Hoods."

Robert de Niro and James Woods took the leading roles, playing those boys growing up to become corrupted men leading lavish lifestyles. Furthermore, Ennio Morricone delivers one of the best soundtracks and background music in cinematographic history. We highly recommend this one for a movie night with your friends!

5. American Gangster

Here's a short biography of an actual criminal who got caught and later gave us an astonishing story

Have you heard of Frank Lucas (1930-2019), a heroin kingpin from Harlem? Even if not, this is a movie for you! This is a story about a gangster who rose to power distributing "Blue Magic" heroin in the late '60s. Denzel Washington and Russel Crowe make it a true acting masterpiece.

Frank Lucas told his tale, and Ridley Scott directed it into a movie wonder. It all resulted in two Oscar nominations, but we don't want to spoil anything because you have to see it yourself!

4. Legend

You're not seeing double. It's really Tom Hardy in two roles in one movie!

Are we seeing double? Tom Hardy and another Tom Hardy? This true-life story about identical twin brothers is a modern classic. This film is about the Kray brothers, Ronald and Reginald, who were top gangsters in London during the '60s.

The story is inspired by John Pearson's book "Profession of Violence" (1972), and there's another movie about this dangerous twin duo, "The Krays" (1990). Even though they aren't with us anymore, the twins keep us inspired to search about this dangerous, exciting, and unusual lifestyle they had.

3. Goodfellas

This is definitely a gangster movie classic

It's about time we put one of Martin Scorsese's best mafia movies on this list! You probably have heard about this title before and if not, get ready for some steamy gangster action. A fantastic trio of actors, Robert de Niro, Joe Pesci, and Ray Liotta, make this movie one of the best of all time! The story involves a young man who always wanted to become a mafia member. While one day he finds himself up the ladder, it brings him many troubles in his marriage and business.

Even though he wasn't in many movies, Joe Pesci deserved an Oscar for a supporting role in this one! This film turned 30 in 2020, but you can watch it repeatedly because it's full of details and the never-getting-old mixture of humor and crime! 

2. The Irishman

Nobody expected Scorsese to have so much energy for another masterpiece like this one!

Martin Scorsese's 2019 movie is our number 2, as one of the most anticipated gangster movies, earning ten Oscar nominations. You can find the film's original story in the book "I Heard You Paint Houses" by Charles Brandt. It is a memoir of the hitman Frank Sheeran, nicknamed The Irishman.

Here the acting trio, Robert de Niro, Joe Pesci, and Al Pacino, show all they have learned in their fruitful careers on the screen. However, the crew had a problem making these actors look younger than they were. Therefore, a unique de-aging technology had to be used to make them fit into their roles.

1. The Godfather

There's a reason many movie lists have this one as their top choice!

Yes, our top pick for the best gangster movie isn't unexpected at all. But let's face it, there isn't a better one than "Godfather" (and "Godfather II," of course). Marlon Brando created one of the most recognizable movie characters of all time, but there's more! Alongside promising young acting talent, Al Pacino, the director Francis Ford Coppola didn't have much to worry about. 

The story is based on Mario Puzo's screenplay involving the mafia boss, Don Corleone. He controls a gangster empire and, along the way, has many allies in politics and the underworld. Nevertheless, his family members have their ideas and ambitions, which he tries to control, keeping the family business on track. There are three parts of the movie, with the second one being recognized as one of the most-watched in modern cinematography.

As the mafia is still around, it's scary to think about having an encounter with some of them. Nevertheless, this top ten list of the best mafia movies captures the essence of their lifestyle in the previous century.

Do you enjoy mafia movies? Do you have some other suggestions for our top ten best gangster movies list?

Photo: Vintagelee/Pixabay


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