What Are The Best Gangster Movies Of All Time

What are the Best Gangster Movies of All Time

Movie lovers love gangster movies and it’s easy to understand why. This genre is filled with emotion, suspense, and action. Further, gangster films are often based on real events and people, which add a layer of realism that’s hard to find in other genres. From The Godfather to Goodfellas, here’s a look at some of the best gangster movies of all time.

One of the most iconic films of all time, The Godfather is often regarded as not just one of the best gangster films but one of the best films of all time. Produced and directed by Francis Ford Coppola, the 1972 film was based on an epic novel by Mario Puzo and stars legendary actors like Marlon Brando, Al Pacino, and Diane Keaton. The story follows the Corleone crime family and the internal struggles for power.

The 2006 film The Departed is directed by acclaimed filmmaker Martin Scorsese. The movie follows two police officers—played by Leonardo DiCaprio and Matt Damon—who are on opposite sides of the law. One is an undercover cop and the other is a mole in the police, located in the Massachusetts State Police department.

Moving away from the U.S., one of the greatest gangster films is Tokyo-based Battle Royale, which was first released in 2000. Set in an alternate universe, the movie follows a group of nine high school students who are chosen by the Japanese government to take part in a gruesome battle.

The Quentin Tarantino-directed Pulp Fiction is a must-watch. Released in 1994, the movie follows two mob hit men, played by John Travolta and Samuel L. Jackson, as they take on new jobs. The movie also stars Bruce Willis, Uma Thurman, and Ving Rhames.

Lastly, Robert De Niro and Joe Pesci both starred in the iconic Goodfellas. This 1990 Martin Scorsese movie follows the rise and fall of a Mafia gang led by De Niro’s character Henry Hill. The movie received six Oscar nominations including best picture and best adapted screenplay.

The Untouchables

The Untouchables is a 1987 crime drama directed by Brian De Palma and based on the real-life adventures of agent Eliot Ness as he tries to take down infamous mob boss Al Capone. The film follows Ness, played by Kevin Costner, as he and a small team of Untouchables agents face off against Capone. Robert De Niro stars as Capone, while Sean Connery plays a corruption-fighting Irish-American cop.

The film is a classic gangster movie and is one of the most critically acclaimed of the genre. It was nominated for four Academy Awards, including Best Picture. Costner and Connery were praised for their performances, and De Niro’s take on the legendary mob boss was described as “scary, dark, and utterly captivating.”

The Untouchables has become a classic gangster movie in its own right, often mentioned in any conversation about the greatest gangster films of all time. It’s a gritty, hard-hitting movie that brings to life the intricate web of deception and corruption that was part and parcel of gangster life during the Prohibition era.


Casino is a 1995 gangster movie directed by Martin Scorsese and based on the book by Nicholas Pileggi. The movie stars Robert De Niro as Sam “Ace” Rothstein, a casino manager who is sent to Las Vegas to oversee the running of the Tangiers casino. Sharon Stone stars as Ginger McKenna, Ace’s wife, and Joe Pesci as Nicky Santoro, a close associate of Ace’s.

Casino explores the sordid world of mob-controlled casinos in Las Vegas during the 1970s and how they were run. The movie brings to life the fascinating (and often violent) history of the town and its inhabitants. There’s a strong emphasis on the relationship between Rothstein and Santoro and how it all goes spectacularly wrong. Pesci’s terrifying performance perfectly captures the intensity and chaos of the world he inhabits.

The movie was met with critical acclaim and is often considered Scorsese’s best film, not just one of the best gangster movies of all time. And, as with all of his movies, Scorsese’s eye for detail is top-notch.


Scarface, directed by Brian De Palma and released in 1983 is the classic gangster movie. It stars Al Pacino as Tony Montana, a Cuban refugee who arrives in Miami in 1980 with nothing and quickly rises to the top of the drug cartel. The movie follows Montana’s rise and fall as he fights off all challengers to become the most powerful drug dealer in the city.

Scarface is a cult classic and was nominated for three Academy Awards. Pacino’s larger-than-life performance has become an icon and is regularly referenced in pop culture. The movie is notable for its graphic violence and its unapologetic exploration of the dark side of the American Dream.

Scarface’s influence continues to this day and its references can be seen in movies and TV shows all over the world. It’s a movie that’s both a classic and a modern classic, and it’s on most lists of the best gangster movies of all time.

American Gangster

American Gangster is a 2007 crime drama directed by Ridley Scott and starring Denzel Washington and Russell Crowe. The movie is based on the real-life exploits of notorious drug lord Frank Lucas, and follows an ambitious detective who attempts to bring Lucas to justice.

The movie is full of suspense and intrigue, and the performances from Washington and Crowe are memorable. The movie also stars Chiwetel Ejiofor, Josh Brolin, Ruben Santiago-Hudson, and Ted Levine. It was nominated for two Academy Awards, including Actor in a Supporting Role for Brolin’s performance as Detective Trupo.

American Gangster is regarded as one of the best gangster movies of all time. The movie brings to life the grittiness and darkness of the criminal underworld, showing how someone could easily be consumed by it. And it captures the cold and ruthless nature of those who were smugglers, drug dealers, and murderers.

The Town

The Town is a 2010 crime drama starring Ben Affleck, Jon Hamm, Blake Lively, and Rebecca Hall. Affleck also wrote and directed the movie, which follows four robbers who rob a bank and take a hostage, only to discover that their hostage is the manager of the bank.

The Town is thrilling and tense throughout, with Affleck taking great pains to make the story believable. He also creates a compellingly dark atmosphere, one that really draws the viewer in. Affleck was widely praised for his performance, with several critics listed him among the best performances of the year.

The Town is a gritty, real-world look at a gang of criminals and the world they inhabit. It explores themes of loyalty and trust, as well as how crime can sometimes be a viable path out of poverty. The movie earned positive reviews from critics and is widely considered to be one of the best gangster movies of the past decade.

Eastern Promises

Eastern Promises is a 2007 movie directed by David Cronenberg and stars Viggo Mortensen, Naomi Watts, and Armin Mueller-Stahl. The movie follows a midwife who discovers that the diary of a patient who died in childbirth is connected to the Russian mafia. She teams up with a dangerous member of the mob to uncover the truth.

Eastern Promises is a gripping thriller that explores the criminal world of London’s Russian economy. The movie is filled with suspense as the protagonist risks her life to uncover the truth. Mortensen was praised for his performance and the movie was nominated for three Academy Awards.

Eastern Promises offers a unique perspective on the gangster genre, as it delves into the lives of the mobsters. The movie realistically portrays how crime and violence pervade the Russian underworld, and the importance of family in Russian culture. It’s an intense and gripping examination of the gangster lifestyle and is rightly considered one of the best gangster movies of all time.

Vicki Strouth is a life-long film enthusiast, having grown up watching classic cinema in her childhood. She has since gone on to pursue writing about films and movie news, with her work being published on various online platforms. She is passionate about supporting independent filmmakers and highlighting important stories from around the world. She has also written a successful book about classic movies from Hollywood's Golden Age era. Vicki currently lives in Seattle, where she continues to explore films of all genres and eras.

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