9. King of New York (1990)
No best mob movies list would be complete without the excellent acting of Christopher Walken. The crime boss bullies his way to the top of the underground drug heap only to share his money with the poor.
Other than Walken, can you picture someone else in this role? His on-camera charisma and the childish antics of his sidekick (Laurence Fishburn) are interesting to say the least.
The pressure is on. The Movieplenty roundup of top gangster flicks all time is just getting started.
Director: Abel Ferrara
Cast: Christopher Walken, Larry Fishburne, David Caruso, Victor Argo, Wesley Snipes, Janet Julian, Joey Chin, Giancarlo Esposito, Paul Calderon
Release date: September 22, 1990
Runtime: 103 minutes
8. Bugsy (1991)
Bugsy comes in at #8 on our best mob movies list. New York mobster Benjamin “Bugsy” Siegel (Warren Beatty) leaves the big city to sample a taste of the good life–Hollywood style.
Instantly infatuated by all things L.A., Bugsy buys anything he wishes. Mr. Siegel soon creates a new made-to-order life.
His job is to consolidate the underworld’s gambling business, and everything is going to plan until she walks in. Virginia Hill (Annette Bening) stops Benny Siegel in his tracks. The rackets boss soon forgets about his wife, children, and everyone else.
But don’t worry, our 90’s classic doesn’t turn into one of those old mafia romance movies. Tough guys rule here. Undoubtedly our ride must come to an end, but not before Ben makes quite a name for himself.
Director: Barry Levinson
Cast: Warren Beatty, Annette Bening, Harvey Keitel, Ben Kingsley, Elliott Gould, Joe Mantegna
Release date: December 20, 1991
Runtime: 136 minutes
7. Reservoir Dogs (1992)
We’re not sure if it’s the ear slicing scene or the opening credits in slow motion that grab our attention. Perhaps it’s the keenly arranged score that made Reservoir Dogs famous.
A group of small-time thieves are assembled to pull off the perfect diamond robbery. But things get messy–quite literally. One of the robbers is an informant for the cops, which creates big problems among this crew.
This bunch is not to be trusted when things are hunky-dory, and when there’s drama? Wait and see what happens when a bank shootout spills out onto the midday streets.
Director: Quentin Tarantino
Cast: Harvey Keitel, Tim Roth, Chris Penn, Steve Buscemi, Lawrence Tierney, Michael Madsen, Quentin Tarantino
Release date: October 9, 1992
Runtime: 99 minutes
6. Eastern Promises (2007)
Drugs, tattoos, prostitution, and strongmen—the making of a popular gang film. We follow the lives of Nikolai (Viggo Mortensen) our brutal tough guy and Anna (Naomi Watts), a midwife.
So how do two totally different characters intertwine? Anna delivers the baby of Russian prostitute who unfortunately dies during childbirth. This knowledge is dangerous for her and anyone that she knows.
Graphic scenes bring all the authenticity needed in a picture of this genre, and the acting is spot on. This is a great movie for discussions about ethics, morality, and justice.
Director: David Cronenberg
Cast: Viggo Mortensen, Naomi Watts, Vincent Cassel, Armin Mueller-Stahl
Release date: September 14, 2007
Runtime: 101 minutes
5. American Gangster (2007)
Denzel Washington breaks away from the goody two-shoes characters of military men and law-abiding figures of the 90’s. His starring role in American Gangster makes it perfectly clear–Washington is a sly crook.
Frank Lucas (Denzel Washington) pays his dues as a chauffeur for one of Harlem’s leading black criminals. After his boss dies, Lucas uses his street smarts and ambition to become one of the city’s most powerful crime bosses.
But lurking in the background is veteran cop Richie Roberts (Russell Crowe). Richie discovers a crack in the Lucas power structure and devotes his life to bringing the drug kingpin down.
Fantastic supporting performances by Ruby Dee, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Cuba Gooding Jr., and RZA make this one of the ultimate black gangsta experiences.
Director: Ridley Scott
Cast: Denzel Washington, Russell Crowe, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Cuba Gooding Jr., Josh Brolin, Ted Levine, Armand Assante, John Ortiz, John Hawkes, RZA
Release date: November 2, 2007
Runtime: 157 minutes
4. The Departed (2006)
Up next on our top mafia choices is The Departed. Some great casting choices and a storyline that will keep you guessing.
Good cop Billy Costigan (Leonardo DiCaprio) trades in his uniform to work undercover. Costigan tries to gain access to crime kingpin Frank Costello (Jack Nicholson). As Billy gains the crime boss’s trust, a career criminal named Colin Sullivan (Matt Damon) infiltrates the Boston police department.
Sullivan takes his inside information and reports it back to Costello. When both organizations learn that they have a mole in their ranks, Billy and Colin race to uncover who it is.
Director: Martin Scorsese
Cast: Leonardo DiCaprio, Matt Damon, Jack Nicholson, Mark Wahlberg, Martin Sheen, Alec Baldwin, Anthony Anderson, Ray Winstone, Vera Farmiga
Release date: October 6, 2006
Runtime: 151 minutes
The best mob movies always have great lines like: “How am I funny?” from Goodfellas
3. Once Upon a Time in America (1994)
Going back in time is not possible. But don’t tell former crime man Noodles Aaronson (Robert De Niro). We follow his former life in the New York’s rough and tumble East Side.
If you check out Once Upon A Time on Netflix, or another streaming service, make certain it is the original extended cut. Sergio Leone’s version was cut by studios for U.S. audiences, and it just doesn’t work.
Director: Sergio Leone
Cast: Robert De Niro, James Woods, Elizabeth McGovern, Joe Pesci, Burt Young, Tuesday Weld, Treat Williams
Release date: June 1, 1984
Runtime: 251 minutes
2. Goodfellas (1990)
What makes Goodfellas one of the ultimate gangster movies? Fellow wise guys De Niro, Liotta, and Pesci, the narration of Mr. Henry Hill, and the cat and mouse chase of the FBI.
The film is widely regarded as one of the best gangster films ever made and holds a 100% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
More violence than some of the other mafia featured in our group, but that shouldn’t turn you away. Scene-stealing performances by Pesci and Liotta will bring out your inner mafioso, as you recite lines over and over.
Director: Martin Scorsese
Cast: Robert De Niro, Ray Liotta, Joe Pesci, Lorraine Bracco, Paul Sorvino
Release date: September 19, 1990
Runtime: 146 minutes
1. The Godfather (1972)
#1 on our best mob collection list is a Francis Ford Coppola classic. No matter whose list you read, this Italian gangster film is most likely going to reign supreme.
The Godfather (1972) is arguably the best mob movie of all time. It tells the story of a fictional crime family, which is an American Mafia family.
Not only is it one of the finest mafia films ever made, but The Godfather is arguably the greatest in cinema. Acting greats Marlon Brando, Al Pacino, James Caan, Robert Duvall, Diane Keaton, and more create an American gangster film that actors, writers, fans, and others can revel in, borrow from, and attempt to replicate.
If you haven’t seen this masterpiece, prepare to be amazed.
Director: Francis Ford Coppola
Cast: Marlon Brando, Al Pacino, James Caan, Richard Castellano, Robert Duvall, Sterling Hayden, John Marley, Richard Conte, Diane Keaton
Release date: March 24, 1972
Runtime: 175 minutes