Martin Scorsese has had a rough relationship with the Academy. Before they finally just gave him an award for 2006’s The Departed, every time Marty would come out with an unqualified masterpiece, some other upstart first-time director would have a much more sentimental and Oscar-friendly film out in the same year to steal all the awards away from him. Goodfellas has the unfortunate luck to come out in the same year as Dances with Wolves, but the unfortune really lies with the Academy, as while Dances is a good film, Goodfellas is clearly the film of the decade, and one of the best crime films of all time.
This film is so dynamic and fast it’ll take your breath away, mostly by slapping you on the back or punching you in the gut. Funny, hilarious even, and witty as all hell, this chronicles the life of Henry Hill (played to perfection in a career making role by Ray Liotta) from his childhood growing up with the fellas to his adulthood as one of them. It is a perfectly told tale, told through a voiceover that never fully crosses the line of exposition, but rides it finely and knows where to step and where to swing. This film’s got panache, loads of it, in every area; script, cinematography, acting, directing. All the players give career best performances (with the possible exception of Robert de Niro, just because he’s had such an outstanding career up to that point already), with Joe Pesci winning an Academy Award for his.
Martin Scorsese is an extremely New Yorkian director, and his New Yorker sensibilities come across in every inch of this film’s lengthy reel. This is a masterpiece of down & dirty filmmaking, filled with flair and style and a no-nonsense way of going about its business. This is a must see if there ever was one, not because of how unique or iconic it is, but because it’s just a flat-out great film in every regard. If you haven’t seen this, you need to do so at once; it’s one of those films that’s hard to respect someone if they have yet to.
Arbitrary Rating: 10/10