The Most Iconic Mafia Movies Of All Time

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So, you’ve seen The Godfather and want to expand your mafia movie repertoire? Enter Martin Scorsese and his brat pack to bring New York mobsters and their street-smart, terrifying grit to the silver screen. But gangster movies don’t stop at Scorsese and Francis Ford Coppola, director of The Godfather. From the ruthless Russian gangsters in Eastern Promises to police-mobster friendships in Donnie Brasco, there’s so much more worth watching in this genre beyond the Corleone family.
All of the movies on this list explore mobsters’ hijinks, but also the specific emotional qualities that keep friends close and enemies closer. After all, mobsters aren’t just criminals. They’re criminals with a specific set of principles — albeit principles that are not police-sanctioned. Watch, enjoy, and beware of saying yes to favors.
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Scarface (1983)

In 1980, Tony Montana (Al Pacino) is a Cuban ex-pat in Miami who climbs to the top of the cocaine trade through violence and intimidation. But he starts to lose control of his empire once he becomes too enthusiastic about his product, if you get our drift.
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Donnie Brasco (1997)

As Johnny Depp’s character in Donnie Brasco discovers, infiltrating the mafia is dangerous — but not for the reasons you might think.

Joseph Pistone (Johnny Depp) is an FBI agent assigned to infiltrate the Bonanno family, a key New York crime syndicate. Operating under the name Donnie Brasco, Joseph ends up developing a friendship with the Bonanno family's hitman, Benjamin Ruggiero (Al Pacino). Identifying more with the mobsters than with his detective colleagues, Joseph finds himself in a fix. Can he complete his FBI job, knowing it’ll lead to Ruggiero’s death?
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Gomorrah (2008)

If you’re thinking that movies like The Godfather glamorize the mafia, or at least cloak mobsters in some mysterious allure, you’re correct. That’s why this bleak, uncompromising film about a Neapolitan crime syndicate, called the Camorra, was hailed as the antidote to the "mob movie problem."

Based on a book by investigative journalist Roberto Savino and directed by Martin Scorcese, there are no triumphs in Gomorrah — no charming outlaws, no individuals to root for. Instead, the film stares straight into organized crime, and the abyss stares back.
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Mickey Blue Eyes (1999)

Bet you didn’t expect a lesser-known Hugh Grant comedy to pop up on this list. In Mickey Blue Eyes, Grant plays a prim English auctioneer who discovers his girlfriend’s father is a mafia kingpin — and goes through with proposing, anyway. Though Gina’s father (James Caan) takes a liking to Michael, he won’t give his blessing until Michael proves himself, mafia-style.
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Eastern Promises (2007)

In Eastern Promises, a Russian-British midwife finds herself in the middle of a power struggle with the Russian Mafia.

The film's premise is bleak, and just keeps getting bleaker. Anna (Naomi Watts) delivers the baby of a 14-year-old Russian prostitute, who, strung out on drugs, dies soon after childbirth. But Tatiana leaves behind clues in a journal that implicate a powerful Russian mafia family in her pregnancy and prostitution. Deeply affected by Tatiana's plight, Anna gets involved — and unleashes the full anger of the Vory V Zakone criminal family, who are now coming after Tatiana's baby.
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A Bronx Tale (1993)

The power struggle in A Bronx Tale isn't over turf, or diamonds, or money. Instead, it's a battle for influence over a 9-year-old boy.

In the Bronx in the 1960s, law-abiding Lorenzo Anello has a young son who's drawn to the neighborhood's local mobsters. When 9-year-old Calogero Anello witnesses kingpin Sonny LoSpecchio commit a murder, Calogero's fascination becomes straight-up involvement. But surprisingly, Calogero doesn’t report the crime. Instead, a friendship blossoms between the . young boy and the mafioso, and so begins a tug-of-war between a biological father and a father figure.
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Once Upon A Time In America (1984)

If Once Upon a Time in America succeeds at providing extremely in-depth portraits of its protagonists, it’s because the film has a comfy 144 minutes to do so.

The movie follows the relationship between David “Noodles” Aaronson and Max Bercowicz, two childhood friends from Brooklyn who become gangsters. Hailing from Hassidic Jewish neighborhoods, Noodles and Max aren’t your usual Italian gangsters. And this character-driven masterpiece isn’t your usual gangster movie.
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Goodfellas (1990)

Goodfellas kicks off with protagonist Henry Hill uttering a line you’ve probably heard before: “As far back as I can remember, I always wanted to be a gangster.”

As a child in the 1950s, Henry idolizes the gangsters in his Brooklyn neighborhood. Wanting to be a part of something bigger than himself, Henry drops out of school and joins a group with a particular set of morals: "Never rat on your friends, and always keep your mouth shut." This Scorsese-directed quintessential crime film tracks the rise and fall of Hill’s time with the mob. While watching, remember: Goodfellas is actually a biographical film, based on real life of Henry Hill.
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The Departed (2007)

Turns out Scorsece isn’t just master of the Brooklyn mafia. He can go to Boston and do a pretty good job — a Best Picture Oscar-winning good job, in fact.

The Departed is a movie of shifting loyalties and blurred identities, where the stakes aren't just protagonists' lives, but the survival of their groups. In the film, Colin Sullivan (Matt Damon) is a criminal sent to infiltrate the Boston police department and report everything back to syndicate head Frank Costello (Jack Nicholson). On the other side, Billy Costigan (Leonardo DiCaprio) is a cop looking to prove himself in the Boston police department. Billy's assigned the job of wheedling his way into Costello’s inner circle. Soon, Billy and Colin are engaged in a cat-and-mouse game to oust the other guy before he gets ousted himself.
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Married To The Mob (1988)

Angela de Marco (Michelle Pfeiffer) is fed up with her no-good husband’s no-good job. Yep, her husband, played by Alec Baldwin, is a gangster. Turns out he’s not so good at being a gangster, either. After her husband is killed for having an affair with a mafioso’s mistress, Angela takes her son and flees to New York to start a new life. Unfortunately, she’s being pursued by her husband’s murderer, Tony, and the FBI agent looking to catch Tony.

If you're scared this won't end well, don’t worry — Married to the Mob lives firmly in the romance-comedy genre, serving as a respite from the mean streets in the other movies.
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Mean Streets (1973)

Is it possible to retain morality when involved with the gangs of Little Italy? That’s the question Charlie faces in this coming-of-age movie of a boy whose loyalties eventually derail his life.

In this early Scorcese film, Charlie looks after the unhinged Johnny Boy (Robert De Niro) in an attempt to atone for his past crimes. He intervenes to help Johnny Boy pay a debt to a local crime boss, and becomes further ensnared in the world of loan sharks and assassins.
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Bella Mafia (1997)

They say when you marry someone, you marry their family. Sophia learns the true meaning of this age-old adage when she marries into a Mafia family and faces terrible consequences. After her husband, brothers-in-law, and father-in-law are all murdered by a rival family, the remaining women family members vow to get revenge.
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