“Simple does not exist. Simple is hard.” -Martin Scorsese
Legend. Master. The OG of modern cinema in its infinite glory. Director, writer and producer Martin Scorsese is undoubtedly one of the most influential and greatest filmmakers of all time. His ingrained focus and acute dedication to filmmaking has inspired generations of performers, not only in directing and screenwriting, but aspiring actors, craftsmen, and anyone enamored with the medium.
The visionary director turns 80 on Thursday and to celebrate his birthday, Variety ranks the 25 narrative feature films of his career to date.
I was first hypnotized by Scorsese with his remake of the 1962 film “Cape Fear” (1991), starring Oscar nominee Robert DeNiro and a young Juliette Lewis, whom I knew from the cult classic “My Stepmother”. is an Alien”. (1988). The visceral nature of the way the film is framed, cutting back and forth between DeNiro’s loud and rambunctious monologues, terrified me. That Oscar ceremony was the first I saw from start to finish, with the likes of “The Silence of the Lambs” winning the “Big Five,” including Best Picture. More importantly, it showed the Academy’s hunger for thrills and suspense, something Scorsese excelled at.
From his endless list of accolades, both in the US and internationally, he has amassed an impressive roster, including nine Best Director Oscar nominations, the most of all living, and second only to William Wyler’s 12 overall. They include “Raging Bull” (1980), “The Last Temptation of Christ” (1988), “Goodfellas” (1990), “Gangs of New York” (2002), “The Aviator” (2004), “The Departed” (2006), ‘Hugo’ (2011), ‘The Wolf of Wall Street’ (2013) and ‘The Irishman’ (2019). His only statuette is for the 2006 remake of Infernal Affairs, which also won Best Picture, Adapted Screenplay (William Monahan) and Editing (Thelma Schoonmaker).
His entire filmography has grossed over $2.1 billion worldwide. On the domestic side, his total films have him in the top 50 highest-grossing directors in history. Born in New York City to Italian parents, he is known for his undying love of movies, and it has been reciprocated ten times over. After attending Cardinal Hayes High School in the Bronx, Scorsese initially wanted to become a priest and attended a preparatory seminary, but dropped out after freshman year. He later enrolled at New York University, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in English and a master’s degree in education.
After making several short films in the 1960s, he made his directorial debut “Who’s That Knocking at My Door” (1967), originally titled “I Call First”, starring fellow Tisch School actor Harvey Keitel and old editor Cleaner. From there, he took to the races and worked with countless actors, many of whom have been embraced by the Academy Awards. Winners include Ellen Burstyn for “Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore” (1974), Robert DeNiro for “Raging Bull”, Paul Newman for “The Color of Money” (1986), Joe Pesci for “Goodfellas” and Cate Blanchett for ‘The Aviator’.
Next up for Scorsese is his adaptation of the David Grann book “Killers of the Flower Moon,” which sees him teaming up with his frequent muses and Oscar winners Leonardo DiCaprio and Robert DeNiro, alongside Jesse Plemons, Lily Gladstone, and Brendan Fraser. It is distributed by Apple Original Films and is expected to be released in 2023.
Read Variety ranking of his 25 narrative feature films below.
“Death comes in a flash, and that’s the truth, the person disappeared in less than 24 frames of film.”