Best Mafia Movies: Top 5 Mobster Epics Most Recommended By Fans

Even if one is not a fan of the mafia film genre, its effect on pop culture is undeniable. Endlessly quotable sayings like “leave the gun, take the cannoli” or “I’m gonna make him an offer he can’t refuse” live on and are known even by those who have no knowledge of their source material. These crime-ridden, family-oriented dramas have a hold on society, so much that we have decided to countdown the best mafia movies of all time!

The world of cinema has been captivated by the allure of the mafia, giving rise to some of the most iconic and gripping films in history. From the timeless masterpiece “The Godfather” directed by Francis Ford Coppola to the intense and atmospheric “Goodfellas” by Martin Scorsese, these movies delve deep into the intricate web of organized crime, portraying characters and stories that have left an indelible mark on pop culture. With their compelling narratives, brilliant performances, and unforgettable scenes, the best mafia movies of all time continue to mesmerize audiences, offering a glimpse into a shadowy underworld filled with intrigue, power, and moral complexities.

These films often explore themes of loyalty, betrayal, and power struggles and showcase morally ambiguous characters navigating complex relationships within tight-knit criminal networks. Through a blend of tense atmospheres, sharp dialogues, and dramatic confrontations, mafia movies consistently provide audiences with a riveting exploration of human nature in the face of criminal enterprise.

But what are some of the genre’s classics out there? Luckily, we at StudyFinds have done thorough research across multiple platforms to bring you the top five best Mafia movies of all time. Disagree with our list? We would love to hear from you in the comments below. But please refrain from coming to us on the day our daughter is to be married without even having the decency to call us “Godfather.”

Mobster silhouette
Mobster silhouette (Photo by mahdi rezaei on Unsplash)

The List: Best Mafia Movies, According to Fans

 

1. “The Godfather” (1972)

Come on, we all knew this was going to be number one. And if you didn’t, it’s most likely because you haven’t had the pleasure of viewing this Coppola classic yet. “Considered one of the greatest mafia movies ever made, ‘The Godfather’ sets the bar for others in the genre. Countless mobster movies and TV shows have drawn inspiration from it. Whether it’s the memorable dialogue, impressive cinematography, or the focus on ‘family business,’ this film has left a lasting impact. It is widely regarded as a must-watch for anyone even remotely interested in crime stories,” writes Pinkvilla.

“This is the most iconic gangster film ever made,” raves StudioBinder. “Every cinema fan knows the image of Don Vito holding the cat, the horse in the bed, or Michael shutting the door on his former life. And for good reason; these are some of the most expressive and emotional moments in film history. Puzo and Coppola’s brilliant screenplay is like a cherry on top, and if there’s any argument against ‘The Godfather,’ it’s that its story wasn’t fully told in the first film.”

“Francis Ford Coppola’s magisterial mobster epic is packed with dialogue and scene settings that have since been enshrined in the gangster movie lexicon. But my favorites are the little things: Michael noticing his hand doesn’t shake when he lights a cigarette or the bodyguard’s sidelong glance as Michael’s lovely Sicilian bride prepares to start the car. None of it ever gets old,” adds The Guardian.

2. “The Godfather Part II” (1974)

Of course, we couldn’t let “The Godfather” feel left out at number one. Sometimes considered even better than its original, “The Godfather Part II” delves deeper into the story of the Corleone family. “A masterpiece of storytelling, this sequel to the iconic ‘The Godfather’ delves deeper into the life and psyche of Michael Corleone as he continues to expand and protect his family’s empire. The film also explores the early life of Vito Corleone. With its layered narrative structure and stellar performances, this movie stands tall as one of the greatest mafia films ever made,” states Ranker.

“‘The Godfather: Part II’ does the impossible and creates a worthy follow-up to one of the greatest movies of all time while also earning a place in that same conversation. Some would even argue that it surpasses the original, thanks in no small part to unforgettable performances from Pacino and De Niro,” notes Collider.

“Part two of Coppola’s peerless gangster saga surpasses its predecessor as it takes the Corleone family in two directions: back into the past to trace Don Corleone’s rise from orphaned Sicilian immigrant to Little Italy crime lord and forward into the 1950s with his son, who consolidates his power but, in a tragedy of Shakespearean proportions, destroys his family in his process,” describes The Guardian.

3. “Goodfellas” (1990)

Admit it; you can almost hear Ray Liotta saying, “As far back as I can remember, I always wanted to be a gangster.” “Goodfellas” combines everything that makes a mafia movie good: Scorsese, DeNiro, and, of course, a good Italian American accent. “No director has contributed to the mobster genre as much as Martin Scorsese, and ‘Goodfellas’ is his greatest achievement within the field. The movie follows Henry Hill, a young petty criminal who dreams of being a gangster, and once that dream finally arrives, he realizes just how dangerous life in the mob can be. One of the best gangster movies ever and a perfect example of the genre,” reports Collider.

“Ray Liotta provides voiceover as the outsider inducted into a crime syndicate in Scorsese’s everyday story of extortion, robbery, and murder by guys who aren’t as smart as they think they are. Pesci gets the showy loose-cannon role, but it’s De Niro who is the really scary one as he sits at the bar, silently plotting to kill his friends,” explains The Guardian.

“‘Goodfellas’ is a film that I’ve watched nearly a dozen times and have found a new way to appreciate it every time. Martin Scorsese directed the film based on an adaptation of the novel ‘Wiseguy’ by Nicholas Pileggi. There’s sex, drugs, and vice galore, and the wise guys on screen seem like they’re having the time of their lives. But by the end of the film, Scorsese does away with the glamorized view of gangsters and cripples his protagonist with the one thing every gangster hates—a rat,” adds StudioBinder.

4. “The Departed” (2006)

Scorsese strikes gold again with this DiCaprio classic. Following a different type of mafia, “The movie that finally earned Martin Scorsese his long overdue Oscar, ‘The Departed’ shows Billy Costigan, a state trooper sent undercover to infiltrate the Irish mob. Unknown to the police, the crime family has their own mole on the inside, Staff Sergeant Colin Sullivan. The Departed is a remake of the Hong Kong movie Internal Affairs and is one of the best American remakes of a foreign movie,” describes Collider

“The Departed” (2006)

“’The Departed’ is yet another Scorsese classic, though this film delves into the Irish mob instead of the Italian-American mafia and features two men attempting to infiltrate a gang led by Frank Costello (Jack Nicholson). The movie marked Scorsese’s first and only Oscar for Best Director and is most highly revered for its riveting plot rooted in pure suspense,” writes ScreenRant.

“Martin Scorsese directs this acclaimed story of two moles, one within the Irish Mob and the other within the Massachusetts State Police. Jack Nicholson and Leonardo DiCaprio play the leads, creating an electric atmosphere in one of Nicholson’s last big roles before he retired in 2010,” comments The Manual.

5. “The Untouchables” (1987)

It couldn’t be a list of mafia movies without a film about Al Capone. Probably one of the biggest names in organized crime history. “There’s a fear that sometimes mafia films can try too hard to humanize gangster characters, and as a result, the audience may end up sympathizing with violent men who have done truly horrible things. However, some of the best mob movies are those that focus on the law enforcement officers that attempt to bring these dangerous criminals to justice,” writes SlashFilm.  

“The Untouchables” (1987)
“The Untouchables” (1987)

“Style maverick Brian De Palma’s ‘The Untouchables’ lands us right in the backyard of infamous gangster Al Capone and the ragtag team of police officers assembled to try and bring him to justice. They give themselves a very cool name, which is also the name of the film, and it’s undeniably fun to watch,” adds GQ.

“’The Untouchables’ is based upon the non-fiction book of the same name by Eliot Ness and Oscar Fraley. The film’s crime-drenched art direction is what elevates this beauty of a gangster film to more than just the sum of its parts. Additionally, Sean Connery was awarded the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor for playing Jim Malone, even if his accent was incredibly noticeable,” concludes MovieWeb.

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Note: This article was not paid for nor sponsored. StudyFinds is not connected to nor partnered with any of the brands mentioned and receives no compensation for its recommendations.

 

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About the Author

Jilly Hite

New York raised and Florida-based Jilly Hite studied screenwriting and theatre at The Lee Strasberg Institute before becoming a full time content creator and podcaster. She loves old movies, musical theatre, and her pup Ted.

The contents of this website do not constitute advice and are provided for informational purposes only. See our full disclaimer

Comments

  1. Obviously ain’t seen Gotti 1996 and Donny Brasco & Boss of Bosses and Witness to the Mob. ad pop goodfellas in there at No5 godfather 6th on my list. 👍

  2. Granted, it’s your opinion and it got me to read your article. Maybe those were the only 5 movies you watched. I’ll give you 1 and 2. Next time, do a little more research and and understand the background, history and facts of the movie(if biographical)along with the entertainment factor. That said, at least you’re being published.

  3. I wasn’t going to bother, because I thought this would be a list of exclusively Mafia movies. But when you included The Departed, it became a list of mob movies, not strictly Mafia. That being the case, you’ve made a glaring ommission. While The Untouchables was entertaining, it was by no means a great mob movie. Bugsy, Casino and others are certainly better. But it’s Sergio Leone’s Once Upon a Time in America that truly deserves to be on this list, and right at the top. I’m assuming you’ve never seen it, or it would’ve been included. A truly epic, 4 hour plus film that did everything right. Add in DeNiro, James Woods, Joe Pesci, Burt Young, Elizabeth McGovern, Treat Williams and more, along with Enrico Marconi’s beautiful score, and this is an absolute must-see, legendary film. You’re welcome.

  4. All worthy entries. For No. 6 I would nominate Roger Corman’s “The St. Valentine’s Day Massacre,” for Jason Robart’s Al Capone.

  5. Kill The Irishman, the true story about the 1977 hit of Danny Greene by the Cleveland Syndicate, warrants some Honorable Mention consideration, although there’s some very strong candidates in Casino and Donnie Brasco, among others…….

  6. The lionization of mafia movies led to cultural acceptance of human garbage. Watching mafia movies is like watching “stuff” float around in the toilet bowl.

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