Pick any decade since the 1970s American New Wave, reach in to grab some of the best movies of those years, and chances are you’ll be pulling out some Martin Scorsese pictures. Along with Steven Spielberg, George Lucas, and Francis Ford Coppola, Scorsese was among the rabble-rousers who shook filmmaking to its core in the 1970s, when all conventional wisdom (and filming permits) were thrown out the window for a more dangerous yet personal style of cinema. When you think of that decade, what better captures its grit, grime, and freewheeling cynicism than Taxi Driver?
He made the 1980s a wash for other directors by releasing his masterpiece as early as possible in the decade, with the transformative Raging Bull, netting star Robert De Niro his second acting Oscar. Scorsese subsequently showed off his lighter side with the media satire The King of Comedy, the Kafka-esque comedy After Hours, and, um, The Last Temptation of Christ. A real knee-slapper!
With the 1990s, Scorsese did it again, releasing beloved mob epic Goodfellas in the first year of that decade. While 1995’s Casino works as a companion piece to Goodfellas, Scorsese films also began to have a more specific otherworldly aura, like in the romantic The Age of Innocence and the religious Tibetan biopic Kundun; he then returned to a more hazy, hard-edged spirituality with Bringing Out the Dead, starring Nicolas Cage.
Scorsese’s post-Casino material was not warmly received by audiences, and by the 2000s he was on the lookout for a new actor-collaborator in the same vein as De Niro for a comeback. Scorsese found his man in Leonardo DiCaprio, himself looking to shed his Titanic heartthrob image. Gangs of New York and The Aviator proved Scorsese/DiCaprio was serious business, leading the way for the 2000s masterpiece The Departed, which won Best Picture and, at last, got Scorsese the Best Director Oscar.
The playful Shutter Island, secret movie history lesson Hugo, and the long-gestating Silence were all befitting his reputation and style, but it might be Scorsese’s latest that will be his defining 2010s statement. 2019’s The Irishman arrived into theaters, all three-plus hours of it, on a massive wave of hype for its promise of bringing De Niro, Pacino, and Joe Pesci together on-screen. Judging by the critical response and Netflix positioning the movie as its grand Thanksgiving offering, Irishman did not disappoint.
Scorsese’s next movie is Killers of the Flower Moon, which will star DiCaprio and De Niro, and explore the 1920s murder of Osage Native Americans over their oil-rich land. With the master director showing no signs of slowing down approaching his 80s, we pay our respects with our guide to all Martin Scorsese movies ranked by Tomatometer! —Alex Vo
Critics Consensus:Mean Streets is a powerful tale of urban sin and guilt that marks Scorsese's arrival as an important cinematic voice and features electrifying performances from Harvey Keitel and Robert De Niro.
Synopsis: A slice of street life in Little Italy among lower echelon Mafiosos, unbalanced punks, and petty criminals. A small-time hood... [More]
Critics Consensus: Enormous in runtime, theme, and achievement, Killers of the Flower Moon is a sobering appraisal of America's relationship with Indigenous peoples and yet another artistic zenith for Martin Scorsese and his collaborators.
Synopsis: Based on David Grann's broadly lauded best-selling book, "Killers of the Flower Moon" is set in 1920s Oklahoma and depicts... [More]
Critics Consensus: Featuring outstanding work from an excellent cast, The Departed is a thoroughly engrossing gangster drama with the gritty authenticity and soupy morality we come to expect from Martin Scorsese.
Synopsis: South Boston cop Billy Costigan (Leonardo DiCaprio) goes under cover to infiltrate the organization of gangland chief Frank Costello (Jack... [More]
Critics Consensus: With a rich sense of period detail, The Aviator succeeds thanks to typically assured direction from Martin Scorsese and a strong performance from Leonardo DiCaprio, who charts Howard Hughes' descent from eccentric billionaire to reclusive madman.
Synopsis: Billionaire and aviation tycoon Howard Hughes (Leonardo DiCaprio) is a successful public figure: a director of big-budget Hollywood films such... [More]
Critics Consensus:Silence ends Martin Scorsese's decades-long creative quest with a thoughtful, emotionally resonant look at spirituality and human nature that stands among the director's finest works.
Synopsis: Two 17th-century Portuguese missionaries, Father Sebastian Rodrigues (Andrew Garfield) and Father Francisco Garupe (Adam Driver), embark on a perilous journey... [More]
Critics Consensus: Contrary to accusations of irreverence, The Last Temptation of Christ's biggest sins are actually languid pacing and some tinny dialogue -- but Martin Scorsese's passion for the subject shines through in an oft-transcendent rumination on faith.
Synopsis: Jesus (Willem Dafoe), a humble Judean carpenter beginning to see that he is the son of God, is drawn into... [More]
Critics Consensus: Impressive ambition and bravura performances from an outstanding cast help Casino pay off in spite of a familiar narrative that may strike some viewers as a safe bet for director Martin Scorsese.
Synopsis: In early-1970s Las Vegas, low-level mobster Sam "Ace" Rothstein (Robert De Niro) gets tapped by his bosses to head the... [More]
Critics Consensus: Martin Scorsese invites audiences to follow him through the movies that shaped him, offering both a highly informative dissertation on Italian cinema history and an intimate glimpse into the director's upbringing.
Synopsis: This highly personal documentary follows revered Italian-American director Martin Scorsese as he revisits his childhood on the Lower East Side... [More]
Critics Consensus: Martin Scorsese's technical virtuosity and Liza Minelli's magnetic presence are on full display in New York, New York, although this ambitious musical's blend of swooning style and hard-bitten realism makes for a queasy mixture.
Synopsis: Jimmy Doyle (Robert De Niro), an aspiring saxophone player, meets established USO band singer Francine Evans (Liza Minnelli) during V-J... [More]
Critics Consensus: Too derivative of other Roger Corman crime pictures to stand out, Boxcar Bertha feels more like a training exercise for a fledgling Martin Scorsese than a fully formed picture in its own right.
Synopsis: Martin Scorsese's second feature loosely adapts the autobiography of Bertha Thompson, portraying the adventures of the Depression-era criminal following the... [More]