It strikes me as almost impossible that “Goodfellas” — Martin Scorsese’s mafia masterpiece — opened nearly a quarter century ago, all the way back in September of 1990. I remember watching the instant classic for the first time as if it was yesterday. I can still recall almost every line and shot, every pulse-pounding and heart-stopping moment, every hit and every gun blast. Maybe that’s because I’ve watched it untold times since it was first released.
Now, 25 years later, “Goodfellas” has robustly withstood the test of time. It still ranks among the best gangster films of all time with both fans and critics alike. It’s the 3rd best mob movie ever according to an AMC list (behind the first two “Godfather” films). Paste Magazine puts it at 2 (though that list only goes back four decades), right behind “The Godfather.” AFI also listed it second after Coppola’s 1972 hit. Roger Ebert went so far as to call it the “best mob movie ever.”
As much love as the film got, the Academy neglected to acknowledge it with the same adoration and reverence as critics and audiences. Yes, it received six total Oscar nominations (Joe Pesci took home the statuette for Best Supporting Actor), but the fact that Scorsese didn’t win for his undeniable achievement in directing still incites film buffs to this day. Fans decry the fact that it took Scorsese another 16 years to win for directing (for “The Departed,” which, let’s face it, just isn’t nearly as good). Of its five non-winning nominations — Directing, Editing, Adapted Screenplay, Supporting Actress, and Picture — “Goodfellas” lost to “Dances with Wolves” in four categories. (Supporting Actress went to Whoopi Goldberg for her work as Oda Mae Brown in “Ghost.”) Good as “Dances with Wolves” is, its triumph still seems questionable. Not at all the end-all and be-all barometer of a film’s deservedness, but “Goodfellas” has a 96% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes, while “Dances” comes in at 82%. Just saying.
At any rate, I know I’m not alone in my appreciation of and infatuation with “Goodfellas.” Case in point, Canadian editor Miguel Branco — whose YouTube page indicates he hadn’t even been born yet when “Goodfellas” debuted — just edited and posted a tribute to the film. The video does a solid job employing voice over throughout (Henry Hill’s, of course, played by Ray Liotta), chronicling the giddiness, wealth, and joy, and the eventual fall from grace that comes with being a goodfella.
Check out the not-quite-three-minute video below. If it has you craving a repeat viewing, “Goodfellas” is currently available online to rent at iTunes, Amazon, Flickster, and other sites, and there will be a big anniversary screening this month at the Tribeca Film Festival.