Martin Scorsese is one of the greatest filmmakers working today. He’s been making great movies for well over half a century now, and is still putting out some of his best work, despite now being over 80 years old. Like many great filmmakers, he’s been influenced by numerous classic movies, and has himself influenced other filmmakers to make classic movies in his wake.
For anyone who’s fully explored his directorial efforts – and is eagerly awaiting his upcoming movie, Killers of the Flower Moon – these sorts of movies are your best bet to fill a Scorsese-shaped hole in your heart. Whether they came before Scorsese began directing or after, the following 10 movies all have qualities that would be appreciated and enjoyed by Scorsese fans. This makes them remarkably easy to recommend to those who can’t get enough Scorsese in their lives.
‘A Bronx Tale’ (1993)
Robert De Niro has only directed two films during his career, with A Bronx Tale being the first of them. It’s a film where De Niro clearly took influence from Scorsese – who he frequently collaborates with – to make this coming-of-age story about a young man torn between his working-class father and a charismatic crime boss who takes a liking to him.
The look of the film, its style, and the soundtrack certainly feels very reminiscent of a film like Goodfellas. That being said, it doesn’t feel like a rip-off of Martin Scorsese’s crime films, as it’s got a tenderness to it and a focus on a coming-of-age story that sets it apart from something like Goodfellas or Casino, two films released on either side of A Bronx Tale that De Niro happened to star in.
Gomorrah is a sprawling Italian crime film that almost has the feel of an anthology film, thanks to the five stories it tells throughout its runtime. While Martin Scorsese wasn’t involved in its production, he did lend his name to its U.S. release, which makes sense, given it has some similarities to the gangster films he’s well-known for.
Viewers shouldn’t expect a crime movie exactly like Scorsese’s, seeing as Gomorrah might be even bleaker and more down-to-earth than any Scorsese crime movie made before The Irishman. As long as viewers are okay with something violent, bleak, and very realistic, they should get something out of this intense crime-drama.
‘The Incident’ (1967)
There are plenty of Martin Scorsese movies that have a great deal of tension and suspense throughout, seen most clearly in films like After Hours and Cape Fear. It’s hard to know for sure whether 1967’s The Incident was a direct influence on these movies, but it does undeniably have a similar energy to Scorsese’s thrillers.
The Incident is an underrated crime-thriller that’s set mostly on board a train carriage, with the plot involving two hoodlums who terrorize and toy with the various passengers who find themselves on it, late one night. It’s suspenseful and gripping throughout, and is the sort of gritty, uncompromising movie that Scorsese himself would specialize in making.
‘King of New York’ (1990)
1990 was a surprisingly great year for crime movies. Not only did it give the world Goodfellas, but there was also the underrated Miller’s Crossing from The Coen Brothers, and the Scorsese-esque King of New York, directed by Abel Ferrara and starring Christopher Walken.
Martin Scorsese is a director who loves New York City, so this being another crime film set in The Big Apple makes some comparisons inevitable. It’s also got a good deal of style, like numerous Scorsese crime films have, even if the storyline here – involving a crime boss looking to distribute his profits to the poor and working class in the city – is admittedly pretty different.
‘The Long Good Friday’ (1980)
For anyone wondering what a Scorsese crime film set in London might look like, The Long Good Friday gives a decent indication. It follows a gangster trying to go legitimate by developing an area for a potential Olympic stadium, only to be targeted by a series of bombings that may be organized by a rat within his organization.
It’s a tense and engaging crime-mystery film, and benefits from having two great lead performances from Bob Hoskins and Helen Mirren. It’s one of the best British gangster movies out there, and is easy to recommend to anyone who enjoys the gangster movies of Martin Scorsese.
‘Killing Them Softly’ (2012)
The last non-documentary feature film directed by Andrew Dominik before his controversial and divisive 2022 film Blonde, Killing Them Softly is a brutal and dark crime movie. Its plot revolves around an enforcer who’s tasked with restoring order to an underground crime world after three low-level gangsters rob a high-end mob card game.
It gets some great performances out of actors like Brad Pitt, Richard Jenkins, James Gandolfini, and Ray Liotta, the last of whom was in Goodfellas. It has the sort of violence, edge, and dark humor you’d expect out of a Scorsese crime film, and subtly pays tribute to the master without ever feeling like it’s trying too hard to riff on Scorsese, or copy his trademark style.
‘Sexy Beast’ (2000)
The amusingly titled Sexy Beast might not exactly be the sexiest movie out there, given it’s a movie that focuses on several middle-aged gangsters. Still, as long as you’re not expecting anything titillating or sexy, you’ll probably get something out of Sexy Beast, with its unique premise about a very intense gangster who visits his retired safecracker associate, asking him to come out of retirement for one last job.
While Ben Kingsley isn’t the only reason to watch this underrated crime film, he’s probably the main reason. He plays the film’s antagonist in a terrifying, super intense manner, disappearing into the role as few actors have ever managed to do. It’s the definition of a scene-stealing performance, and given the rest of the movie around him is still pretty solid, Sexy Beast is a no-brainer to watch for Scorsese/crime film fans.
‘Elevator to the Gallows’ (1958)
Titles can sometimes be misleading, as Elevator to the Gallows is not as ominous or horror-focused as the title may imply. Instead, this is a fantastically plotted and paced thriller about a so-called perfect crime that ends up being anything but, with the consequences of a seemingly simple murder playing out in painstaking, stomach-churning detail.
While there were many great French crime movies released during the 1950s and 1960s, Elevator to the Gallows is easily one of the best. There’s every chance Scorsese was interested in these sorts of thrillers during his formative years. Even if he wasn’t influenced by this film specifically, it’s easy to see the pure thrills and suspense in a movie like this being reminiscent of the kind of emotions conjured up by young American filmmakers in the 1970s, Scorsese included.
‘Donnie Brasco’ (1997)
Donnie Brasco was released in the same decade that Scorsese blessed cinema with Goodfellas and Casino, so it’s a little hard to resist comparing it with those. At the same time, though, Donnie Brasco’s plot does involve an FBI agent going undercover to infiltrate the mob, which is partly similar to a certain Scorsese movie from the 2000s…
It’s a movie that feels quite authentic, and takes a more grounded look at life in the mob, humanizing the gangster characters in the process. This is something Scorsese has always been great at doing in his gangster films, so fans who like that approach over the more standard mob movie will likely find things to appreciate in Donnie Brasco.
‘Get Carter’ (1971)
Two years before Martin Scorsese made a stir with his first true gangster movie, Mean Streets, this iconic Michael Caine gangster movie was all the rage in the U.K. and beyond. Get Carter is a revenge thriller about a man named Jack Carter who suspects the people responsible for his brother’s death are still at large, and makes it his mission to hunt them down.
There’s a blunt, brutal simplicity to much of Get Carter that can be seen in many of Scorsese’s crime movies. It was also a gangster film that was quite boundary-pushing when it came to violence and adult themes, and there are certainly movies in Scorsese’s filmography that can be seen as risky, bold, and confronting (especially to audiences at the time of their release).