Murderers come with smiles.
Goodfellas is a 1990 biographical crime drama film directed by Martin Scorsese, written by Nicholas Pileggi and Martin Scorsese, and distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures. It's based on Nicholas Pileggi's 1985 novel, Wiseguy, which, in turn, is based on the life and times of Henry Hill. It stars Ray Liotta and Robert De Niro. It was nominated for and won Best Supporting Actor, while also being nominated for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Supporting Actress, and Best Film Editing. In 2000, it was selected for preservation by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically" significant.
"As far back as I can remember, I always wanted to be a gangster." - Henry Hill
From a very young age, Henry Hill wanted to be in the mafia. Through the years, Henry discovers the glory and glamour of being in such a position, oblivious to the danger that he's in and the pain he's causing.
My Favorite Part of Goodfellas
On a technical level, Goodfellas is basically flawless.
I think my favorite part of the film is it's epic, sprawling story. It truly is a mobster epic, and you feel the time passing as you go through the story. The main reason I love it is because it's truly split into two halves: the first half is the glamour and fun of the gangster life, with hints of menace and danger. The second half shows you the scary part of being in the mafia. You feel the paranoia and tension ramping up as you go into the back half of the film, and I really love the way that Scorsese slowly pours that on you.
My Least Favorite Part of Goodfellas
There's a reason I call this section of the review "My LEAST FAVORITE part". Not the worst part. The thing I liked least (which didn't even bother me that much) was Karen Hill. I felt her character was frustrating at times. I liked her insane transformation throughout the movie, but I didn't love the performance and I thought that her character took away from other parts of the movie.
Why Goodfellas is Great
This film is an incredible piece of art that displays Scorsese's talent for turning horrible people into likable characters. The mob life is enticing and fun until it isn't, and I loved the way that that played out. The characters were well crafted. Tommy DeVito is the standout here as this utterly insane and unhinged psychopath that acts like a ticking time bomb who will go off at any second. The performances are also just fantastic from top to bottom. I'm shocked that De Niro and Liotta were not nominated for Oscars. I am also shocked that Goodfellas lost Best Picture to Dances with Wolves, because this is truly one of the most intelligent and well-done movies ever. The last thirty minutes is tough to watch and sucks out some of the fun of the movie, but that's the point. This is a great movie.
Final Thoughts and Score
Goodfellas is peak Scorsese. It's one of the best crime dramas I have ever seen. It fits into that category of basically perfect movies.
I will give it a Sweet. Age range is 15+.
SWEET N' SOUR SCALE
Sweet (Great) Savory (Good) Sour (Bad) Moldy (Terrible)
Fun Factor: 8/10 Acting: 9.5/10
Directed by Martin Scorsese
Rated R for strong bloody violence, language, sexual content, alcohol and drug usage, frightening images, thematic elements
Released on September 19, 1990
2 hours and 25 minutes
Ray Liotta as Henry Hill
Robert De Niro as Jimmy Conway
Joe Pesci as Tommy DeVito
Lorraine Bracco as Karen Hill
Paul Sorvino as Paulie Cicero
Frank Sivero as Frankie Carbone
Tony Darrow as Sonny Bunz
Mike Starr as Frenchy
Chuck Low as Morrie Kessler
Frank Vincent as Billy Batts
Gina Mastrogiacomo as Janice Rossi
Catherine Scorsese as Tommy's Mother