Martin Scorsese Movies Ranked from Worst to Best

Martin Scorsese Movies Ranked from Worst to Best Newsweek

Widely regarded as one of cinema's living legends, Martin Scorsese has created a legacy of extraordinary films over his fifty-plus years of filmmaking. In October 2018, he received a well-deserved lifetime achievement award at the Rome Film Festival, breaking down in tears as he claimed his trophy.

"Scorsese is one of those directors who belong to the less frequented category of authors who, with their films, help us to understand who we are," said Italian director Paolo Taviani as he handed over the award.

Taviani's statement wasn't hyperbole. Scorsese focused his life on cinema from an early age, and was already making classic movies in his early 30s. His 1973 drama Mean Streets drew on his upbringing in New York's Little Italy district, and made a star of legendary actor Robert De Niro, with whom he's gone on to have a long and fruitful collaborative relationship.

With Mean Streets, Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore and Taxi Driver— all released within three years—Scorsese established himself as a New Hollywood pioneer. Alongside his friends, including Francis Ford Coppola, George Lucas and Steven Spielberg, he rejected the glitzy studio system for his own vision—in his case, a personal brand of gritty, independent realism.

However, his career hit a stumbling block with the release of his first big-budget production, 1977's New York, New York. The movie bombed, and drove the director into depression and cocaine addiction.

At the urging of DeNiro, Scorsese kicked cocaine and threw himself into the production of Raging Bull, the violent biopic of the boxing champion Jake LaMotta. When it was released in 1980 it was a critical and commercial smash. His career went from strength to strength, and he worked on projects as diverse as the spiritual epic The Last Temptation of Christ and the 1987 Michael Jackson music video "Bad."

Despite his many critical hits, the Academy Awards remained wary of Scorsese, nominating his work for Best Picture and Best Director numerous times, but never giving him an award. That is until 2006, when he finally won both awards for crime drama The Departed.

Although 75 years old, the director seems a long way from retirement. His biographical crime film The Irishman, yet another collaboration with DeNiro, will be released by Netflix in 2019.

To celebrate the legendary director, we've ranked all of his non-documentary movies from worst to best, using data from critical review aggregation websites Rotten Tomatoes and Metacritic, as well as user-submitted reviews from IMDb.

01 Boxcar Bertha

24. Boxcar Bertha (1972). Total score: 56.6%.  IMDb users: 6.1. Metacritic: 61. Rotten Tomatoes: 5. Starring: Barbara Hershey, David Carradine, Barry Primus.
Plot summary: During the Great Depression, a union leader and a young woman become criminals to exact revenge on the management of a railroad.

02 Boxcar Bertha

What the critics said about Boxcar Bertha: "Scorsese remains one of the bright young hopes of American movies ... Good with actors, good with his camera and determined to take the grade-zilch exploitation film and bend it to his own vision. " Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times.
Budget (estimated): $600,000. Domestic box office gross: (n/a).

03 Who's That Knocking at My Door
Joseph Brenner Associates

23. Who's That Knocking at My Door (1967). Total score: 62.2%. IMDb users: 6.7. Metacritic: 63. Rotten Tomatoes: 5.9. Starring: Harvey Keitel, Zina Bethune, Anne Collette.
Plot summary: A young man struggles with the fact that his girlfriend was once raped.

04 Who's That Knocking at My Door
Joseph Brenner Associates

What the critics said about Who's That Knocking at My Door: "Martin Scorsese's début feature has just the slightest bit of storyline, but the movie is a fascinating portfolio piece: a black-and-white blueprint for Mean Streets." Michael Sragow, New Yorker.
Budget: (n/a). Domestic box office gross: (n/a).

05 New York, New York
United Artists

22. New York, New York (1977). Total score: 63.0%. IMDb users: 6.7. Metacritic: 62. Rotten Tomatoes: 6.2. Starring: Liza Minnelli, Robert De Niro, Lionel Stander.
Plot summary: An egotistical saxophonist and a young singer meet on V-J Day and embark upon a strained and rocky romance, even as their careers begin a long, uphill climb.

06 New York, New York
United Artists

What the critics said about New York, New York: "If this movie were a big-band arrangement, it would be a duet for a sax man and a girl singer, but with the soloists in a different key from the band." Christopher Porterfield, TIME Magazine.
Budget (estimated): $14,000,000. Domestic box office gross: $13,800,000.

07 Shutter Island
Paramount Pictures

21. Shutter Island (2010). Total score: 67.8%. IMDb users: 8.1. Metacritic: 63. Rotten Tomatoes: 6.6. Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Emily Mortimer, Mark Ruffalo.
Plot summary: In 1954, a U.S. Marshal investigates the disappearance of a murderer, who escaped from a hospital for the criminally insane.

08 Shutter Island
Paramount Pictures

What the critics said about Shutter Island: "Martin Scorsese's latest is a puff of smoke, the type of classic Hollywood mystery hailed as art when done by auteurs and dismissed as ham when done by anyone less esteemed." Amy Nicholson, I.E. Weekly.
Budget (estimated): $80,000,000. Domestic box office gross: $128,012,934.