Today is Goodfellas’ 30th anniversary. To celebrate, we look back on this legendary masterpiece that influenced an entire genre and remains relevant to this day.
Today is the 30th anniversary of Goodfellas (1990), arguably one of director Martin Scorsese’s finest films and the most influential and renowned mafia movie ever made. When it was first released, Goodfellas was an immediate hit that garnered critical acclaim with a total of six Oscar nominations, including Best Picture and Best Director. It won Best Actor in a Supporting Role with Joe Pesci’s superb performance as gangster Tommy DeVito. Since Scorsese’s newest film The Irishman (2019) starred many of the same actors as Goodfellas, I feel that this 30th anniversary is especially relevant for discussions and reminiscence.
Goodfellas follows the real-life story of New York mobster Henry Hill (Ray Liotta) as he joins the Mafia and collaborates with influential gangsters such as Devito, Paulie Cicero (Paul Sorvino), and Jimmy Conway (Robert De Niro) during the 1950s and 1960s. As Hill slowly climbs to the top of the Mafia ladder, he is consumed by a life of excess and indulgence, which leads to his eventual downfall.
I watched Goodfellas under, frankly, quite unusual circumstances. I was scrolling through Netflix and just happened to have discovered it on my suggested list of films. Having just watched The Irishman, I was intrigued by Goodfellas. Unsurprisingly, I was enthralled by almost every aspect of it. Its brilliant dialogue, stellar performances, insightful narration, and accurate yet grim depictions of American gangsters captivated me. I’m especially amazed by the unforgettable one-shot where Hill and Karen Friedman (Lorraine Bracco) enter the Copacabana nightclub, pass through the kitchen, and finally set foot into the dining room. Goodfellas is a cinematic masterpiece, an excellent recreation of the American gangster life, and a cautionary tale on wealth, power, and greed that is still relevant to this day.
For both Scorsese fans and general film audiences, Goodfellas is a must watch. It is up there with legendary mob movies like The Godfather (1972), Scarface (1983), and Once Upon a Time in America (1984). The film is not currently on Netflix, Hulu, and other streaming services for free but you can rent it with $3.99 on YouTube and Amazon Prime Video.