10 Great Mafia Movies

No guy’s movie collection is complete without at least 10 great mafia movies. Known as the consummate men’s genre, great mafia movies are smart, morally ambiguous, engaging, and often pretty brutal. Check out the list below to get your collection of mafia movies started.

  1. “The Valentine’s Day Massacre.” This gangster film, made in 1967, is a cornerstone of the genre. It is a full-on biopic of the war between legendary mafia men Al Capone and Bugs Moran for the streets of Chicago.
  2. “Scarface.” Starring a strikingly young and vibrant Al Pacino, “Scarface” embodies the sheer brutality of the cocaine trade in the 1980’s. Immense violence and Pacino’s amazing performance as Tony Montana have placed this film in the pantheon of legendary mafia movies.
  3. “Carlito’s Way.” Al Pacino takes another turn as the bad guy’s bad guy in this 1993 mafia movie. It’s nearly as violent as “Scarface” and has an excellent supporting cast that includes Sean Penn and John Leguizamo.
  4. “The French Connection.” Perhaps one of the most well made mafia films ever produced, “The French Connection” pits two drug detectives against a well-organized and very sophisticated syndicate of drug running crime lords. In their desperate efforts to stop the ring, the detectives convincingly blur the line between good and evil.
  5. “The Godfather, Part III.” Though it pales in comparison to the two movies that preceded it, “The Godfather, Part III” still deserves a place among other great mafia movies. It follows main character Michael Corleone (played by Al Pacino) from the height of his power through his last breath.
  6. “The Asphalt Jungle.” Made in 1950, this movie obviously doesn’t have the same violence that some others in the genre do. It’s shot in a “film noir” style, and shows relatively accurately a heist being pulled off, an unprecedented move for the era in which it was made.
  7. “GoodFellas.” Based on the true story of mafia henchman Henry Hill, “GoodFellas” is an epic biopic of an Italian crime syndicate over the span of several decades. It features an outstanding ensemble cast including Joe Pesci, Robert De Niro, and Ray Liotta.
  8. “The Godfather, Part II.” This gangster film is a rarity for a sequel. It both picks up the plot of the original “The Godfather” and chronicles mafia don Vito Corleone’s rise to power. The long run time and complex plot are justified, in that you will be left with all your organized crime cravings fully satisfied.
  9. “The Departed.” Voted Best Picture at the 2007 Academy Awards, “The Departed” is Martin Scorsese’s latest mafia movie masterpiece. Its star studded cast includes Leonardo DiCaprio, Matt Damon, and Jack Nicholson, and its complex plot will keep you engaged the whole way through. When the credits roll, you’ll be left in disbelief.
  10. “The Godfather.” To put it simply, “The Godfather” is the mother of all crime films. Directed by the now immortal Francis Ford Coppola, this movie’s atmosphere, feel, and gripping genuineness remain unmatched by any mafia film before or after it. It is an absolute must see, whether you like the genre or not. 
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