Martin Scorsese is a filmmaker well known for his thematically rich and historical films, particularly those that address crime and gang conflict, as well as an Italian-American and Roman Catholic identity. He has a large body of work going back to his first directorial credit in 1967 with Who's That Knocking at My Door.
He has been a recipient of the AFI Life Achievement Award for his contributions to cinema, including not just his filmography but also the creation of The Film Foundation, dedicated to preserving film. However, in addition to the overall quality of his films, Scorsese is also known for producing very long movies, sometimes called "epics". We're counting down his ten longest movies.
10 Goodfellas (145 mins)
You know this list is gonna be good when the very first movie is almost two and a half hours long. This 1990 crime film starring Robert De Niro is widely regarded as one of the greatest films in the gangster genre.
It was adapted from the nonfiction book Wiseguy by Nicholas Pileggi, and follows the career of mob associate Henry Hill between the years 1955 and 1980. It was nominated for six Academy Awards, won five BAFTAs, and has been selected for preservation in the National Film Registry.
9 The Departed (151 mins)
This is another American crime thriller, this time starring Jack Nicholson, Matt Damon, and Leonardo DiCaprio. It's also where we cross the two and a half hour mark, never to return. Damon plays Colin Sullivan, a mole for the Irish mob planted within the Massachusetts State Police, while at the same time state trooper Billy Costigan (DiCaprio) has been sent undercover into the mob. Damon's character is based loosely on the real life corrupt FBI agent John Connolly. The Departed was a success critically and commercially and won a total of four Academy Awards.
8 Silence (161 mins)
This 2016 historical drama focuses on another of Scorsese's favorite themes: struggling with the challenge of faith and religion. It's based on a novel of the same name by Shūsaku Endō and follows two Jesuit priests in 17th-century Nagasaki. The priests, played by Andrew Garfield and Adam Driver, are not only hoping to spread Catholicism but are also searching for their lost mentor, played by Liam Neeson. Silence was one of Scorsese's passion projects and was developed over the course of 25 years; it did poorly at the box office, but received critical praise and won an Oscar for Best Cinematography.
7 New York, New York (163 mins)
The style of this film deviates somewhat from Scorsese's usual fare. It's essentially a musical tribute to his home of New York City and stars Robert De Niro as a jazz saxophonist and Liza Minelli as a pop singer who fall in love. However, it isn't entirely a high energy musical romance.
De Niro's character has an unpredictable personality that eventually pulls their relationship apart even as their careers flourish. It wasn't very well received critically, since the tonal dissonance of the romance and gritty realism didn't mesh well. In fact, due to its poor performance the theatrical cut of the move was only 135 minutes long, but the run time on the DVD edition clocks at 163.
6 The Last Temptation of Christ (163 mins)
One of Scorsese's more controversial movies comes in the form of this 1988 epic about the life of Jesus Christ. Starring Willem Dafoe as the son of God, the film explores what kinds of struggles a man who is both holy and mortal might have dealt with, including fear, doubt, and other forms of temptation. There's even a disclaimer in the film stating that is isn't based on the Gospels, but that wasn't enough to quell the religious outcry from several Christian groups who took issue with the presentation of Christ. Regardless, the move received critical praise and earned several nominations for Academy Awards and Golden Globes, though it was a box office failure.
5 Gangs of New York (168 mins)
This historical period drama released in 2002 and was inspired by a nonfiction book of the same name by author Herbert Asbury. It stars Leonardo DiCaprio, Daniel Day-Lewis, and Cameron Diaz. The plot focuses on a Catholic-Protestant feud that breaks into violence gang warfare in 1863 New York.
It was nominated for a total of ten Academy Awards and was a success at the box office; while it received generally positive critical praise, some observed that it fell short of Scorsese's best work and instead felt messy and disorganized as it tried to tackle too many themes.
4 The Aviator (170 mins)
DiCaprio shows up again in this 2004 biopic where he plays wildly successful engineer, director, and business magnate Howard Hughes. It follows his life from the years 1927 to 1947, during the time Hughes' career was exploding while the man himself became more and more unstable due to his severe OCD. It was nominated for eleven Academy Awards and took home five, including Best Film Editing and Best Actress in a Supporting Role for Cate Blanchett as Katharine Hepburn. It was a success among critics as well, with Ebert calling it one of the year's best films.
3 Casino (178 minutes)
Scorsese was flirting with the three hour mark all the way back in 1995 with Casino, which will shock none of you to know was an epic crime drama starring Robert De Niro. He plays Sam "Ace" Rothstein, a gambling expert who oversees the day-to-day casino and hotel operations at Tangiers Casino in Las Vegas. It details the operations of the casino itself and the Mafia's involvement, as all the while Ace's life breaks down as Las Vegas begins to change. It was a box office success and also received critical praise, though some reviewers felt that the film Scorsese taking a safe bet and retreading ground similar to his earlier success in Goodfellas.
2 The Wolf of Wall Street (180 mins)
Well, we've finally done it: a Scorsese movie three hours long. And it's another collaboration with Leonardo DiCaprio, this time playing real life New York City stockbroker Jordan Belfort. It recounts Belfort's career and confronts the unrestrained corruption and fraud his firm, Stratton Oakmont, engaged in, which inevitably led to his downfall. It was a major commercial success, despite some controversy over the morality of the content. It apparently set a Guinness World Record for the most instances of swearing in a film. It's critical reception was also good and it was nominated for five Academy Awards.
1 The Irishman (209 mins)
And now that Scorsese's brokent the three hour mark, he's decided to catapult right past it with his newest film, setting The Irishman at almost three and a half hours in length. Everyone sing along: it's an American epic crime film starring Robert De Niro.
It follows a truck driver turned hitman named Frank Sheeran and his involvement with mobster Russell Bufalino, played by Joe Pesci. The film had a limited theatrical release and will begin digitally streaming on Netflix in late November. According to the critical response, the content of the film makes the extended runtime worth it, so if you're a fan of Scorsese's work, you can check it out when it drops on Netflix.