Top 10 Martin Scorsese Films

Friday, May 28 2010
Top 10 Martin Scorsese Films

As Paramount readies itself for the August 2 DVD and Blu-ray release of the latest outing from Martin Scorsese, we assess the director’s 10 most successful movies in terms of box office gross and come up with some interesting conclusions.

The Departed

£12.9 million

Strange in that arguably one of Scorsese’s most successful films is the one that is, effectively, a remake – The Departed took its inspiration, of course, from the South East Asian thriller Infernal Affairs and its two sequels. Not only did it perform, but it also earned Scorsese a long-overdue directing Oscar. It’s also worth noting that age is diminishing neither his vision nor his ability to make mainstream films too. It’s that blend of the credible and the commercial that makes him arguably one of Hollywood’s finest talents.

Shutter Island

£10.6 million

There was a creeping sense that all was not well when Shutter Island’s release date was postponed, sparking all kinds of rumours among online conspiracy theorists and half of Hollywood; those fears, of course, proved to be totally unfounded.

Shutter Island, a Hitchcock-esque chiller sees Scorsese once again teaming up with his muse Leonardo DiCaprio, their fourth outing together.  In many ways it’s as commercial as anything he’s done, driven, as ever, by the kind of talent that wants to work with him. What’s more it once again treads the line between the hugely commercial and the equally credible that few others apart from Scorsese can pull off. So it has the reviews and the likes to match its strong box office performance when it releases on DVD and Blu-ray on August 2. For Paramount, meanwhile, the scheduling delays to its theatrical means the title is now coming out in the summer but it firmly believes the title can perform and backs up its commitment with experience too – it falls into the same slot as last year’s Watchmen, another strong performer. As Paramount’s Lesley Henry said recently on The Raygun newsletter: “The reaction to Shutter Island from our retailers has been extremely positive. We are anticipating similar success to Watchmen, which released at the same time last year. With plot twists and turns brilliantly woven throughout the film, the suspense of this thriller gives it the repeatability factor that makes a DVD truly compelling. With a significant media spend and marketing campaign targeting 16-34 year old men and thriller fans across TV, online and outdoor in place, we are confident that Shutter Island will be one of the summer’s heavyweights.”

The Gangs Of New York

£10.6 million

Shutter Island shades out the first collaboration between Scorsese which still broke the £10 million mark at the box office. Epic in scale and brutal in content, it wasn’t DiCaprio that stole the show, it was the mesmeric performance from a returning Daniel Day Lewis that pulled in the punters. That and the appearance of a whole host of British faces, brought in to play the warring Irish immigrants taking over the vicious streets of the nascent New York City.

Cape Fear

£10.3 million

This outing stayed as Scorsese’s most successful for some time and, like The Departed, this too was a remake, although it took its cue from the Deep South in the US rather than SE Asia. Again, it was a masterful and some might suggest even manic performance that sealed its success, this time from Robert De Niro as the vicious killer seeking revenge on the lawyer he believes was to blame for his incarceration. It shows that even when Scorsese is not stretching himself, he is still an incredible filmmaker.

The Aviator

£8.2 million

A biopic about Howard Hughes is a tough sell in terms of turning it into big box office, but Scorsese proved his worth with this wonderfully paced tale of the reclusive Howard Hughes, pulling together an enviable cast and drawing out a performance from DiCaprio that, at the time, few would have thought possible.


£4.7 million

This followed hot on the heels of Goodfellas and saw De Niro and Joe Pesci virtually reprising their roles from the earlier gang title. Location aside, it saw Scorsese on fairly familiar territory, using big brush strokes to draw a tale about not only the mob, but the formative years of modern Las Vegas. Memorable again for some great Pesci outbursts and one of the most shocking uses of an expletive in a film

The Age Of Innocence

£2.4 million

Few would have thought that the director responsible for the likes of Taxi Driver and Mean Streets (not included here, incidentally,  because records only chart “modern” box office back to the mid to late-1980s) would one day turn his hand to the kind of fare that would be equally suited to genteel Sunday evenings watching BBC costume dramas. But he did, and not without some success either.

Bringing Out The Dead

£1.9 million

Obviously looking for someone not as old as De Niro and, we can only guess, not as youthful as DiCaprio, Scorsese settled upon Nic Cage for this compelling if often ignored drama about life working the graveyard shift on ambulances in New York. Grim, but watchable.


£1.9 million

Arguably his finest work – and certainly the one that would, we’d wager, garner most votes in a straw poll in your office – this is based on a true story and is epic in its scope and timeframe, taking in the rise an fall of an East Coast gangster. Superlative filmmaking, with Scorsese’s eye for detail (the cooking scene in jail, for example) taking in every element, right through to its admirable soundtrack.

Shine A Light

£0.7 million

In between his meatier directing gigs, Scorsese has always taken a keen interest in music, right back to his Last Waltz featuring The Band. But the past decade has seen him returning to this kind of job, with feature-length films featuring The Rolling Stones (Shine A Light) and Bob Dylan (No Direction Home).

Tags: , ,