Nothing beats a good gangster movie and luckily for us, there are plenty of them. Almost since the dawn of filmmaking, directors have been blessing us with action-packed, tense gangster flicks that have kept audiences coming back time and time again. Being quite a broad genre, there are many movies to choose from, but not all of them stand the test of time to be considered one of the greats. Here we will break down our picks for the 10 best gangster movies of all time and where to stream them.
10. Mean Streets – 1973
Kicking off the list is a certified gangster movie classic, Mean Streets. Starring one of the genre’s finest actors, Robert De Niro, Mean Streets is the story of a small-time gangster who is trying to keep the peace between his friend Johnny and his intimidating loan shark. It is directed by a gangster movie titan in Martin Scorcese who you should expect to see appearing a few more times throughout this list.
IMDb Score – 7.2
Mean Streets is available to stream via Realeyz, the FreeVee Prime Video channel, or FilmBox+.
9. Gangs of New York – 2002
Featuring the acclaimed actors, Leonardo DiCaprio and Daniel Day-Lewis, this Martin Scorcese movie is set in 1862 New York City. When a man returns to the Five Points of NYC, he assembles a gang to exact revenge on the man that killed his father. Not only is there gang tension, but this story also focuses on immigration and the Irish people that came to America seeking protection.
IMDb Score – 7.5
8. The Irishman – 2019
Another fantastic gangster movie from, you guessed it, Martin Scorcese is The Irishman. Spanning an impressive run time of 3.5 hours, this gangster epic tells the tale of a hitman called Frank Sheeran (played by Rober De Niro) and his career with the Pennsylvania crime family. During this time, he finds himself working for Jimmy Hoffa, an American labor union leader. Needless to say that the connections to organized crime become quite complicated in this epic.
IMDb Score – 7.8
7. Casino – 1995
Yet another Martin Scorcese gangster movie, Casino is also one of the finest. Set during the golden era of Las Vegas, a mobster (played by Robert De Niro, of course) is tasked with running a casino. After the establishment begins to flourish, he encounters some difficulties with his hot-headed enforcer Nicky Santoro (Joe Pesci), his wife, and a con artist.
IMDb Score – 8.2
6. Once Upon a Time in America – 1984
This time directed by Sergio Leone, we have another epic gangster movie, Once Upon a Time in America. An older man (again, Robert De Niro) returns to New York where he used to operate as a gangster in the 1920s and 30s. Despite most of his old affiliates being gone, he feels a sense of unfinished business. As he reminisces in a series of flashbacks, we see the events of his childhood and his rise to the level of mafia boss in a twisting tale of brutality, betrayal, and reflection.
IMDb Score – 8.3
5. Scarface – 1983
Coming from director Brian De Palma, Scarface follows a Cuban immigrant named Tony Montana (played by Al Pacino) as he makes his new life in the United States. He begins to make his way through the drug trade in Miami and violently takes care of anyone who stands in his way. We see Tony’s rise to the top of the criminal underworld and the eventual downfall due to paranoid behavior, the police, and Colombian cartels.
IMDb Score – 8.3
4. The Departed – 2006
Thought we had moved on from Martin Scorcese? Think again. The Departed follows a South Boston police officer (Leonardo DiCaprio) as he goes undercover to infiltrate an organized crime family headed up by boss Frank Costello (Jack Nicholson). At the same time, a criminal (Matt Damon) has infiltrated the police department resulting in both organizations attempting to weed out their moles. And the moles themselves desperately try to find each other’s identity.
IMDb Score – 8.5
3. Goodfellas – 1990
Here we have the final entry from Martin Scorcese and it is the most popular work he has ever produced as we can see through the IMDb ratings. It follows a young man who grows up around mobsters and eventually ascends their ranks with increasing amounts of responsibility. After enjoying a life of luxury, things begin to unravel when drug addiction and mistakes start to catch up with him. Featuring charismatic performances from the late, great Ray Liotta, Robert De Niro and Joe Pesci, this is easily one of the best gangster movies of all time.
IMDb Score – 8.7
2. The Godfather: Part II – 1974
Arguably the greatest movie sequel ever made, Francis Ford Coppola’s The Godfather: Part II is an impeccable follow up that continues the story of the Corleone family to excellent effect. Part II looks back at the younger the life and crimes of Vito Corleone. In the meantime, the now powerful Michael is advancing within the crime syndicate. It’s just 0.2 points below the first film, our number one pick, in IMDb ratings, which promises to provide some thrilling movie watching.
IMDb Score – 9.0
1. The Godfather – 1972
Well here we have it, the greatest gangster movie and one of the finest films ever made. Francis Ford Coppola’s masterpiece, The Godfather stands the test of time despite being released decades ago. It tells the tale of an Italian-American family and the head of the family and acting mob boss, Vito Corleone. As he gets older, he transfers his power over to his youngest son, Michael, who never wanted the job until his family was in danger. It’s a violent, dramatic tale that will keep you glued to the screen for all 2 hours and 55 minutes.
IMDb Score – 9.2
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There is clearly a fascination with organized crime in Hollywood as we can see from these ten incredibly popular films. They explore the meaning of family, wealth, and loyalty, which almost always ends with violence in the name of protecting one’s inner circle. The suspenseful nature of these movies makes them fan favorites, but even more so, they are revered for their excellent direction and timeless quality on the big screen. Stream these 10 best gangster movies of all time to see the work of famous directors and action from all-star stacked casts.