Starring- Robert DeNiro, Ray Liotta, Joe Pesci, Lorraine Bracco
Goodfellas is in my top five films of all time. This film should have won the Oscar for Best Picture and Best Director in 1990, saving us from The Departed in 2008 and the smugness of Kevin Costner after he won both awards for Dances with Wolves. I think this is Scorcese's finest film, and yes, I have seen The King of Comedy. He uses narration and montage to great effect, and this film did it before it became a Scorcese cliche. It is a unique look at the life of real-life mobster Henry Hill (Liotta) and his cadre of "wiseguy" friends. Unlike other mafia movies, this one really takes you inside and makes you understand the inner-workings of the wiseguy lifestyle.
It begins with a young Henry Hill aspiring to work with the wiseguys in his neighborhood, and then meeting the men who will become the major players in his life. Among those men are Jimmy Conway (DeNiro) and Tommy DeVito (Pesci). These three embark on a very flamboyant, active life of crime that involves stealing, drug dealing and murder. The thing about it is, most of the time it looks like so much fun that you want to join. Unfortunately, the fun is stuck between stays in jail, drug paranoia and threats of snitches ratting you out. Hill eventually has to rat out his friends in order to save his own life- thus ending his dream life as a gangster.
Every scene in Goodfellas sparkles with realism and wit, and paints a very engaging picture of the lives of his characters. Liotta's work in anchoring the film is very good, and he does a nice job of walking the somewhat narrow tightrope of family man and wiseguy. DeNiro is also great, but the real kudos go to Oscar winner, Joe Pesci. Pesci's portrayal of Tommy is funny, tough and terrifying all at once. It is hard to know whether he will make you laugh, or make you dead. Sometimes he does both with terrific results. Goodfellas will take you on a first class trip to mobtown- a nice place to visit, but you wouldn't want to live there.
Things to Watch for-
The amazing soundtrack
Billy Batts and the shinebox
The longest steadycam shot ever
Martin Scorcese's Mom as Tommy's Mom
A Cutty and Water
"The paw?" "The hoof."