Top 250 Tuesday: #176 – Goodfellas (1990)

Continuing to wend my way through the Sight and Sound Top 250 Greatest Movies of All Time. This week, it’s #176 on the list, Martin Scorcese‘s Goodfellas. For a longer introduction to this series and a look at the full list, just click here. And if you want a heads-up on what I’ll be watching for next week in case you want to watch along, just head on over to the Facebook page or follow me on Twitter (both of those links are in the sidebar) where I’ll generally be posting that info later in the day.

GoodfellasSorry for the absence of Top 250 Tuesday the past couple of weeks, folks, but between the 31 Days of Halloween posts and some other things that came up, well, something had to give, and unfortunately this was part of it. Hopefully, though, things are back on track, and will stay that way for awhile.

So… Goodfellas. Directed by Martin Scorcese. Starring Ray Liotta, Joe Pesci, and Robert De Niro.

As far back as I can remember, I always wanted to be a gangster.

So says Henry Hill (Liotta) and eventually we get to see his wish come true. Unfortunately, there’s a certain adage that Hill should have remembered.

Be careful what you wish for.

Look, it would be very easy for me to heap more praise on this movie, but the truth is, it’s already been done time and again. According to Wikipedia’s “reception” section in their article on the film,

The film was released to critical acclaim and currently has a 97% rating at Rotten Tomatoes and a 89 metascore at Metacritic.  In his review for the Chicago Sun-Times, Roger Ebert wrote, “No finer film has ever been made about organized crime – not even The Godfather.In his review for the Chicago Tribune, Gene Siskel wrote, “All of the performances are first-rate; Pesci stands out, though, with his seemingly unscripted manner. GoodFellas is easily one of the year’s best films.  In his review for The New York Times, Vincent Canby wrote, “More than any earlier Scorsese film, Goodfellas is memorable for the ensemble nature of the performances… The movie has been beautifully cast from the leading roles to the bits. There is flash also in some of Mr. Scorsese’s directorial choices, including freeze frames, fast cutting and the occasional long tracking shot. None of it is superfluous” USA Today gave the film four out of four stars and called it, “great cinema—and also a whopping good time”.David Ansen, in his review for Newsweek magazine, wrote “Every crisp minute of this long, teeming movie vibrates with outlaw energy”. Rex Reed said “Big, Rich, Powerful and Explosive. One of Scorsese’s best films! Goodfellas is great entertainment.”] In his review for Time, Richard Corliss wrote, “So it is Scorsese’s triumph that GoodFellas offers the fastest, sharpest 2½-hr. ride in recent film history”.

goodfellas2I’d love to be a nay-sayer to all of this acclaim, to somehow knock this movie down a peg or two, but the truth is, I can’t. Is it a perfect movie? No. There are certain scenes I have problems with, but in the lingo of the film itself, that would just serve to make me look like a schnook. This is a movie that has earned its reputation, and I don’t feel it’s an exaggeration to say that if Scorcese had never made another film, he still would have to be considered among Hollywood’s elite. Fortunately he has made many more both before and after, proving that he is far from a one-hit wonder.

The bottom line? My only real regret having now actually seen Goodfellas is that I’d put it off or so long before. But that’s something I don’t have to worry about anymore. Because now, I, too, have been made.

So what are your thoughts on Goodfellas? Is it a movie that you’ve seen or would like to? If you have seen it, is it one that would make your own Top 10 list? Or would it not even crack your Top 250? Let me know below.


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