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Best Modern Mob Movies According to Rotten Tomatoes

By    |   Friday, 22 May 2015 05:37 PM

From the days of James Cagney and Edward G. Robinson, movies about the mob have been part of American cinema since nearly the beginning.

Here are five of the best modern examples of life as a mobster, according to Rotten Tomatoes' Tomatometer, which calculates the percentage of positive reviews among "approved critics."

1. "Goodfellas" (1990)

This was as good as the Italian mob movie gets since the "Godfather" films of the '70s. Joe Pesci, Robert De Niro, Paul Sorvino and Ray Liotta all appeared on-screen together in this brilliant Mafia classic about the up and coming life of Henry Hill (Liotta).

Who can forget a young Henry Hill saying, "Ever since I can remember, I've always wanted to be a gangster." When Hill gets pinched for the first time, Sorvino grabs and congratulates him after the arraignment for not squealing on the big boys.

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The best line of the film, one most remembered, was when Pesci asks Liotta, “Funny how, funny like a clown, like I amuse you?”

The Tomatometer gives it a 96 percent.

2.  "Pulp Fiction" (1994)

The film told a handful of stories from multiple perspectives that all orbit around a gangster name Marcellus Wallace.

What has separated this film from most mob movies is that the storytelling unfolded in a nonlinear fashion. While the experiences of hitmen Jules Winnfield and Vincent Vega (Samuel L. Jackson and John Travolta, respectively) formed the narative throughline of the film, the entire picture is full of digressions that eventually came full circle.

The movie's cast of characters was littered with idiosyncratic ne'er-do-wells played with aplomb by a galaxy of Hollywood stars.

The Tomatometer gives it a 93 percent. "Pulp Fiction" also won an Oscar for Best Screenplay.

3. "The Departed" (2006)

Another Martin Scorsese gangster film, this time a remake of South Korean film "Infernal Affairs," centered around the Irish mob in South Boston.

Leonardo DiCaprio starred as undercover cop Billy Costigan infiltrating the organization of gang boss Frank Costello (Jack Nicholson). Matt Damon was cast as DiCaprio's criminal antithesis Colin Sullivan infiltrating the police to discover the identity of a mole in Costello's crew. Both race against time to expose the other. 

Scorsese told biographer Richard Schickel that Nicholson improvised part of a scene with DiCaprio, when he unexpectedly pulled a real gun, to heighten the drama. “He didn’t tell me he had a gun. It was great,” Scorsese said. "I still get chills."

This mob movie won four Academy Awards, including Best Director (Scorsese's first) and Best Picture, making it one of the most celebrated films of the genre.

The Tomatometer gives it a 91 percent. "The Departed" also ranks No. 78 on Rotten Tomatoes' top 100 mystery and suspense films.

4. "Scarface" (1983)

Perhaps Al Pacino’s best role as a mobster that he has portrayed in his career, "Scarface" was a full realization of the influence of the drug trade and the rise of the cartel in modern mob films. It is a more parodical but less cynical perversion of the American Dream found in "The Godfather."

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Pacino played off-the-boat-Cuban-immigrant-to-Miami Tony Montana who became the ultimate Cocaine Cowboy. Tony Montana lived dangerously and played the game by his rules and gave moviegoers one of the most oft-quoted one-liners in cinema history, "Say hello to my little friend."

This remake of a 1932 film by the same name, which is one the best classic mob movies, according to Rotten Tomatoes, could be the goriest gangster movie to date.

The Tomatometer gives it a 84 percent.

5. "Casino" (1995)

This 1995 mafia classic put Joe Pesci and Robert De Niro together once again, but on opposite ends of the same crime family.

Nicky Santoro (Pesci) was sent to Vegas to watch Sam "Ace" Rothstein (De Niro) who was commissioned to run a casino and sports book. Santoro gets banned from all gaming establishments and blames Rothstein for it and seeks to kill him, but ends up sleeping with his wife, played by Sharon Stone, instead.

De Niro's character was based on Frank Lawrence "Lefty" Rosenthal, an odds-maker and perhaps the greatest sports handicapper that ever lived.

The Tomatometer gives it a 80 percent.

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From the days of James Cagney and Edward G. Robinson, movies about the mob have been part of American cinema since nearly the beginning. Here are five of the best modern examples of life as a mobster, according to Rotten Tomatoes.
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Friday, 22 May 2015 05:37 PM
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