Best Mafia Movies of All Time

Mafia and gangster movies have definitely changed people’s perception of those who do crime. For many years, this genre of movie has fascinated many people. TechTrends made a list of the best Mafia movies of all time that were made in different times, with various budgets.

from The Godfather to Goodfellas, mafia movies are known as some of the most memorable genres on screen. This genre of movies is specialized by directors such as Martin Scorsese and Francis Ford Coppola. One of the main reasons as to why the genre is popular is due to its cutting-edge action, witty dialogues and legendary filmmaking. Another reason for their importance is that they represent a key time in the history of America. Many mob stories follow the tale of the lives of immigrants. In the movies, they are usually ordinary people who rise to the top due to the mafia, becoming powerful forces. However, the power also becomes their downfall. Keep reading to find out what the best mafia movies of all time are.

Best Mafia Movies of All Time

The crime cinema has a popular genre called mobster or mafia, revolving around the world of gangster organizations and what they do. It sometimes shows their dangerous lifestyles and complex characters. Each generation might have their own favorite mafia movie and the perception of the mafia’s role has definitely changed over the years. Here are the best mafia movies of all time without further ado.

12. Casino 1995

  • Genre: Crime/Drama
  • Director: Martin Scorsese
  • Stars: Robert De Niro, Joe Pesci, Sharon Stone, Frank Vincent, John Manca
  • Rating: Rotten Tomatoes 79%, IMDb 8.2

Casino was directed by Martin Scorsese and is a pretty ambitious, entertaining film, despite being a mess. Robert De Niro performs as Sam “Ace” Rothstein, who is a Jewish American gangster in charge of the Tangiers Casino in Las Vegas. This character is based on Fran Rosenthal, the real life mafioso. Although he does his best to remain above the fray, the glamour of sin city destroys him, his wife as well as his friend. At the beginning of going to the Tangiers Casino, he was a great success, but as time goes on, his problems with mob enforcer Nicky, played by Joe Pesci, his wife Ginger, and many other puts Sam in danger. Also, this is one of the best mafia movies of all time and an adaptation of Nicholas Pileggi’s book.

Read more: Best Robert De Niro Movies of All Time

11. Scarface 1983

  • Genre: Drama
  • Director: Brian De Palma
  • Stars: Al Pacino, Michelle Pfeiffer, Steven Bauer, Mark Margolis, Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio, F. Murray Abraham
  • Rating: Rotten Tomatoes 79%, IMDb 8.3

Scarface is another one of the best mafia movies of all time, which shows the cocaine-fueled attitude of the 1980s. Al Pacino performs as Tony Montana, who is a Cuban immigrant. He comes to Miami, taking over a drug cartel. The movie is directed by Brian De Palma and it is a flashy, stylish and bloody gangster epic. Moreover, the movie revolves around how power can truly corrupt men. Despite receiving a Golden Globe nomination at Best Film Drama Actor, Al Pacino was not noticed at the Oscars.

Read more: Best Al Pacino Movies of All Time

10. American Gangster 2007

  • Genre: Drama/Crime
  • Director: Ridley Scott
  • Stars: Denzel Washington, Lymari Nadal, Russell Crowe
  • Rating: Rotten Tomatoes 81%, IMDb 7.8

Ridley Scott directed this gangster epic, in which Russell Crowe plays the role of a NYPD cop named Richie Roberts. He is criticized and banished by his colleagues for handing over a million dollars that he found in a gangster’s car. In addition, he is tasked with an unenviable job and has to track down suave drug smuggler Frank Lucas, portrayed by Denzel Washington. The two start a deadly game of cat and mouse. This movie proved once again that Denzel Washington is great when playing bad. This is yet another one of the best mafia movies ever on this list.

Read more: Best Denzel Washington Movies of All Time

9. The Untouchables 1987

  • Genre: Drama/Crime
  • Director: Brian De Palma
  • Stars: Kevin Costner, Sean Connery, Robert De Niro, Andy Garcia
  • Rating: Rotten Tomatoes 82%, IMDb 7.8

Another one of the best mafia movies of all time is The Untouchables that has an amazing cast. This iconic gangster movie has Robert De Niro, Kevin Costner and Sean Connery performing amazingly well. The story revolves around an empire with bootleg alcohol. Crime boss Al Capone, portrayed by Robert De Niro, is the ruler of Chicago with an iron fist. While Prohibition agent Eliot Ness, played by Kevin Costner, tries to arrest him, he fails as the Windy City’s police force is corrupted. Ness attempts to put together an elite group of lawmen that will not be affected by bribes or fear in order to bring Capone down.

8. Once Upon a Time in America 1984

  • Genre: Drama/Crime
  • Director: Sergio Leone
  • Stars: Robert De Niro, Elizabeth McGovern, James Woods, Joe Pesci
  • Rating: Rotten Tomatoes 87%, IMDb 8.3

Once Upon a Time in America is the eighth one on the list of the best mafia movies of all time. In 1968, David Noodles Aaronson, portrayed by Robert De Niro, goes back to New York City, where he had a job in the criminal underground in the 20s and 30s. Most of his long-term friend are not longer there but he believes that his part is unresolved. The movie uses flashback technique and revolves around Noodles, a tough kid in a Jewish slum in the Lower East Side of NYC. It also shows his rise to a Mafia boss, which is violent, and full of betrayal and remorse.

7. Donnie Brasco 1997

  • Genre: Crime/Action
  • Director: Mike Newell
  • Stars: Al Pacino, Johnny Depp, Anne Heche, Michael Madsen, Bruno Kirby
  • Rating: Rotten Tomatoes 88%, IMDb 7.7

Another one of the best mafia movies of all time is this abrupt change of image for the famous actor in the true story of a young FBI agent. Johnny Depp’s character goes undercover as “The Jewel Man”, Donnie Brasco. He then finds himself embedded deep in the Bonnano crime family. He creates a relationship with mob hit man Benjamin (Al Pacino) to go further under cover. However, his friendship ends up being a real one with the Mafioso. With their relationship developing, Pistone should decide whether to do his job, as it may lead to the murder of his newfound friend.

Read more: Best Johnny Depp Movies of All Time

6. Eastern Promises 2007

  • Genre: Crime/Thriller
  • Director: David Cronenberg
  • Stars: Viggo Mortensen, Naomi Watts, Vincent Cassel, Armin Mueller-Stahl, David Papava
  • Rating: Rotten Tomatoes 89%, IMDb 7.6

The sixth one on the list of the best mafia movies of all time is Eastern Promises, which follows the tale of a British nurse. The nurse becomes part of a Russian Mafia when discovering the notebook of a girl. Furthermore, the girl connected her pregnancy to a mafia. Viggo Mortensen does a Russian accent masterfully, making this one of his best movies. Also, we highly recommend this wonderful movie.

5. The Departed 2006

  • Genre: Crime/Drama
  • Director: Martin Scorsese
  • Stars: Leonardo DiCaprio, Vera Farmiga, Jack Nicholson, Matt Damon, Mark Wahlberg
  • Rating: Rotten Tomatoes 91%, IMDb 8.5

Another one on the list of the best mafia movies of all time is The Departed, directed by Martin Scorsese, who won the Oscar for Best Director for this movie. Leonardo DiCaprio featured in Martin Scorsese’s Oscar-winning Best Picture as a Massachusetts cop. Named Billy Costigan, he is tasked to go undercover to infiltrate a group of Irish-American mob, with Frank Costello, played by Jack Nicholson, as their leader gangster. DiCaprio urges the audience to sympathize with him and get worried when he encounters Nicholson as he may slip up. He juggles the dangers of his work undercover because he could get caught and murdered.

For his impressive performance, DiCaprio got his fifth Golden Globe Award nomination. Moreover, he was also nominated for his fifth and sixth Screen Actors Guild. This was indeed one of the best mafia films ever.

Read more: Best Leonardo DiCaprio Movies of All Time

4. The Irishman 2019

  • Genre: Crime/Drama
  • Director: Martin Scorsese
  • Stars: Robert De Niro, Joe Pesci, Al Pacino, Harvey Keitel, Anna Paquin
  • Rating: Rotten Tomatoes 95%, IMDb 7.8

The Irishman is the fourth one on the list of the best mafia movies of all time. Notwithstanding the shocking Oscar snub, Robert De Niro delivered one of the best performances of his life in another one of the Martin Scorsese movies. The movie is three-and-a-half-hours long and this is a great one among the many themes Scorsese and De Niro have worked on during their careers, going far beyond the glamorous gangster effects they explored before. De Niro plays the role of Frank Sheeran, who is a low-level truck driver.

He then becomes a hitman when he crosses paths with Teamsters head Jimmy Hoffa, portrayed by Al Pacino and Mafia Russell Bufalino, played by Joe Pesci. And, the special effects are mind-blowingly good and through make up, De Niro was able to portray the character over many decades, starting from his humble character to his tragic end.

Read more: Best Martin Scorsese Movies of All Time

3. Goodfellas 1990

  • Genre: Crime/Drama
  • Director: Martin Scorsese
  • Stars: Robert De Niro, Ray Liotta, Joe Pesci, Paul Sorvino, Lorraine Bracco
  • Rating: Rotten Tomatoes 96%, IMDb 8.7

Another one of the best mafia movies of all time where Martin Scorsese collaborated with Robert De Niro again is Goodfellas, which creates a sense of family among criminals. Moreover, aside from money, girls and great food, there is the feeling of acceptance from peers that makes Henry Hill, played by Ray Liotta want to be a wise guy. Then, he forms a bond with fatherly Jimmy Conway, played by Robert De Niro, and Tommy DeVito, portrayed by Joe Pesci, who won the Oscar for his performance. For this reason, the ending of their brotherhood is kind of tragic. However, prior to that, it is a quite lively and a very entertaining mafia movie, courtesy of The Godfather.

Despite not having the showiest role in Goodfellas, his performance was crucial to the tale of the movie. the movie revolves around Henry Hill, a mafia who has a good relationship with De Niro’s character. Although he mostly appeared as protagonists in Scorsese’s movies, his role in this film was charming and insidious.

Read more: Best Crime Movies of All Time

2. The Godfather Part II 1974

  • Genre: Crime/Drama
  • Director: Francis Ford Coppola
  • Stars: Al Pacino, Marlon Brando, Robert De Niro, Diane Keaton
  • Rating: Rotten Tomatoes 96%, IMDb 9

The second part of the movie directed by Coppola surpasses the previous one as it takes the family of Corleone into two directions; to the back to show Don Corleone’s rise from being an immigrant to Little Italy crime lord as well as a forward in to the 50s with his son. Therefore, you should definitely check The Godfather Part II out if you haven’t already.

1. The Godfather 1972

  • Genre: Crime/Drama
  • Director: Francis Ford Coppola
  • Stars: Al Pacino, Robert De Niro, Diane Keaton, James Caan, John Cazale
  • Rating: Rotten Tomatoes 97%, IMDb 9.2

The Godfather is one of the best mafia movies of all time and Ground Zero for all the subsequent mafia movies. The indelible characters portrayed by an impressive cast made this movie epic. Moreover, the director worked Mario Puzo’s Mafia novel like a virtuoso, with the ultimate pick inside a Mafia family’s life and the weaknesses it brings along. Moreover, Al Pacino is right at the center of the movie, which is known as one of the greatest movies ever made. In addition, Pacino’s performance is just as incredible as Marlon Brando’s Vito. Portraying the role of Michael, he is a young upstart who is desperate to avoid the criminal clutches of his family. So, don’t miss this incredible film; it is one of the best Al Pacino movies ever, and the top one on our list.

Read more: Best Drama Movies of All Time