12 Movies You Must Watch if You Love ‘The Godfather

The Godfather franchise is arguably one of the greatest gangster franchises ever made. Boasting two of the greatest and finest American films – The Godfather and The Godfather Part 2, Francis Ford Coppola gifted the world one of the greatest tales ever told. Establishing its splendor in 1972, The Godfather trilogy set the bar for every other gangster and mob flick ever made.

The direction, combined with intricate storytelling, gave us a film that will be always be regarded as one of the best films ever made. Here is the list of movies similar to The Godfather that are our recommendations. You can also stream some of the movies like The Godfather on Netflix, Hulu, or Amazon Prime.

1. Goodfellas (1990)

Goodfellas is probably the most influential and ground-breaking gangster flick since The Godfather trilogy. Directed by the charismatic Martin Scorsese, Goodfellas has been referred to as one of the most gritty mafia movies of all time. Playing on the central theme of the criminal underworld, the movie explores the importance of unwavering-criminal loyalty and the grisly realities of the criminal underbelly. It quite articulately build the foundation on its three lead characters – the experienced and calm Jimmy Conway played by the legendary Rober De Niro, the learner and slightly callous Henry Hill enacted by Ray Liotta and the psychotic hooligan with a short temper Tommy DeVito portrayed by Joe Pesci. Goodfellas did not shy away from Scorsese’s classic use of brutal violence and crass language which only helped it achieve its praise.

Adapting Nicholas Pileggi’s non-fiction novel, the screenplay written by Scorsese and Pileggi himself managed to infuse both a stylised and realistic colour to the movie. The inventive character development earned Pesci the Academy Award Best Actor in a Supporting Role and was named as 1990s best film by a variety of critics’ groups. Like any other masterpiece, Goodfellas adopted quite fitting background score and Michael Ballhaus’ camera work helped it elevate its status. Regarded as one of the best in the crime genre, it was selected for preservation in the National Film Registry by the United States Library of Congress and spawned a string of Goodfellas-inspired films and television shows.

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2. Once Upon a Time in America (1984)

The final film of the Once Upon a Time trilogy, the Italian-American epic crime drama masterpiece accounts the lives of Jewish ghetto youths who escalate to prominence in New York City’s underbelly of organised crime. Unlike other films of this genre, Once Upon a Time in America explores the moral themes of friendships, love, lust, greed, betrayal, loss, broken relationships amalgamated with the rise of the American mobsters. Covering a tale of over four decades, the gangster flick was shortened for the American audience which did not reap any good. However, the original “European cut” was very well received by then audience and critics and was also a commercial and critical success. Robert De Niro’s Noodles was vastly appreciated and the film has often been cited as being “poetic” due to its thematic representations.

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3. City of God (2003)

City of God used the perfect tool to garner a mass following – a quiet and honest boy dreaming to be a photographer and a sociopathic drug lord with the soul of the devil. Fernando Meirelles and Kátia Lund’s 2004 crime film depicts the birth and growth of organized crime in the Cidade de Deus suburb of Rio de Janeiro spanning from end of the 1960s to the beginning of the 1980s. The film garnered immense praise and earned 90% favourable views on Rotten Tomatoes. Additionally, to add to its merits, City of God was inducted as the 177th best film of all time in 2008 by Empire. Although it did receive to criticism due to its gun infused violence, the films growing popularity was unhindered.

Bagging four Academy nominations, the film was Brazil’s choice for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film, but was not nominated to be in the finals. The film characters are intricately written and make a lasting impression in the viewers. The film perfectly enraptured the brutalities of a drowning Brazil where sadistic destruction, power and greed drove the common man. Adapted Bráulio Mantovani from Paulo Lins’ novel of the same name, quite a lot of the plot-line is inspired from the gang “Caixa Baixa” or Low Gang.

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4. The Departed (2006)

Although a remake of the equally brilliant 2002 Hong Kong crime-thriller film Infernal Affairs, Martin Scorsese’s The Departed is just a treat to watch. The whole story is sharply produced where Scorsese places the Irish-American mobster Frank Costello and his organised criminal syndicate against the Massachusetts State Police. William Monahan, the writer strikes gold by introducing two moles who look to provide information to the criminal syndicate and the police department.

With Leonardo DiCaprio enacting William “Billy” Costigan, Jr., the mole for Massachusetts State Police and Matt Damon donning the role of Staff Sgt. Colin Sullivan, the mole for Jack Nicholson’s Francis “Frank” Costello, the movie was loosely based on the infamous gangster Whitey Bulger and his protégée, the corrupt FBI agent John Connolly. The 2006 film was a critical and commercial success and received four Academy Awards for Best Director, Best Film Editing, Best Picture and Best Writing, Adapted Screenplay.

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5. Gangs of Wasseypur (2012)

Anurag Kashyap’s experimental film, Gangs of Wasseypur breathed life into a dying genre of Indian cinema and was rewarded with astounding reviews from critics and audience alike. Centred on the coal mafia of Dhanbad, Gangs of Wasseypur captivated everyone with a tale revolving around vengeance, revenge, political struggle and power brawl between three families. Kashyap’s film took a detour from the usual crime thrillers and adopted a Tarantino-style approach which dealt with gruesome and stomach-churning violence. However despite this, the audience craved for it and this resulted in the film amassing an unprecedented following. Primarily written by Zeishan Quadri, the adrenaline-filled story spanned over sixty years – from the 1940s to the 2000s.

Due to its long running time of 319 minutes, Indian theatres refused to screen it and so Gangs of Wasseypur was divided into two different parts. Like another generation defining film directed by Verma, the film was made on a meagre budget of Rs. 18.5 Crore became a commercial success. The innovative directorial style which was quite new to the Indian viewers and critics. The film has a great background score which drew inspirations from Indian Folk songs and brought a certain taste of Indian earthiness to it.

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6. Miller’s Crossing (1990)

Directed by the Coen brothers, Miller’s Crossing depicted a three-way war between the Irish, Italian and Jewish mobs. Drawing motivations from a variety of classics like Jean-Pierre Melville’s Le Doulos, Dashiell Hammett’s 1931 novel The Glass Key and Francis Ford Coppola’s The Godfather franchise itself, the 1990 film quite artily exposed gang wars. Belonging to the genre of neo-noir gangster film, Miller’s Crossing also employed Coen brothers’ classic application of black-comedy. Knitting the plot on a up-and-coming crime boss with an ambitious vision, two men trapped for the same women and bookie with the knack of being troublesome, Miller’s Crossing was a new and fresh take on a genre which Hollywood had been clinging upon since years.

Raving with critical praise by many, the film particularly impressed TIME critic Richard Corliss who called it a “noir with a touch so light, the film seems to float on the breeze like the frisbee of a fedora sailing through the forest.” Adding to its merits, Miller’s Crossing earned a spot in American Film Institute’s 10 Top 10 as a Gangster Film.

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7. Satya (1998)

This was Ram Gopal Verma at his best. Made on a shoestring budget, Satya took everyone by surprise. The film has been referred to as a modern masterpiece due to Verma’s artistic yet realistic portrayal of the Mumbai underworld. Released in the year 1998, Satya was the first instalment to the successful ‘Indian Gangster Trilogy’ and rewarded Bollywood with one of its first mob flicks. What made Satya so successful was the mind-boggling portrayal of each and every character by the actors. With the screenplay written by Saurabh Shukla and a then unknown Anurag Kashyap, the characters and plot were brimming with inspiration.

Satya  isn’t a complex film – An innocent man who comes to the ‘city of dreams’, Mumbai gets enmeshed in the grotesque world of crime and the underworld. Verma uses this as a tool to introduce us with some of the most memorable characters like Manoj Bajpayee’s Bikhu Mhatre, Urmila Matondkar’s Urmila and Surabh Shukla’s Kallu Mama. The film even managed to nail the cinematography and music which was provided by the majestic Vishal Bharadwaj. Gopal Verma’s efforts gave rise to what is called ‘Mumbai Noir’.

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8. Bob le flambeur (1956)

Bob le flambeur or Bob the Gambler is a French-gangster film directed by Jean-Pierre Melville. The 1956 neo-noir flick builds its foundation on old weary gangster planning to rob a gambling Casino in Dauvile. What makes this film one of the most pioneering gangster films is its source material. Instead of applying the clichéd gang-wars and crime-families, it included the concept of a “heist”. Procreating other such films such as Ocean’s Eleven, the movie reaped positive response from all brought the legendary Jean-Pierre Melville to the spotlight who had just directed four films up-till now. Credited to be the antecedent to the French New Wave, due to its use of handheld camera and single jump cut, Bob le flambeur has established itself to be one of the best French as well as one of the best movies of all time.

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9. Scarface (1983)

One of the most gritty and bloody movies, Scarface is a story about an exiled Cuban criminal who rises to be the top drug kingpin in 1980s Miami. The Brian De Palma film is often attributed by filmmakers as Martin Scorsese has a major influence in the genre of mob films. Starring Al Pacino, the film was presented by the actor himself after watching the 1932 film of the same name. The film paid focus on the drug trafficking, primarily cocaine and the rising violence in America.

Al Pacino perfectly captured the essence of the loud-mouthed and short-tempered Tony Montana who could be a merciless as Satan himself. Who can forget his famous “Say hello to my little friend” send which haunted the audience with it over-the-top gun violence? What makes it an even more classic is the fact that the initial critical comments were pretty poor as many considered the vehemence, profanity and graphic drug usage quite unnecessary. However, since then Scarface received redeemed itself and has morphed into being one of the best mob films of all time and even earned a spot in American Film Institute’s top 10 Gangster films.

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10. Pale Flower (1964)

Kawaita hana or Pale Flower is a 1964 Japanese film-noir directed by Masahiro Shinoda. The Japanese gangster flick indulges itself in the Yakusa mafia where an old gangster released from the prison finds himself embroiled in the quick transformation in the world of the Japanese mafia. The film borrows a lot of elements from horror film cinematography where Shinoda uses the camera to capture shadows and dark corridors in slow motion. The film isn’t the most famous mob film but is one of the most critically appreciated movies. American film critic and historian, journalist, screenwriter Roger Ebert gave the four stars and has identified it as one of his favourites in the crime-mob genre.

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11. The Untouchables (1987)

The Untouchables was an instant hit among the audience when released in 1987. Placing Kevin Costner’s Eliot Ness against Robert De Niro’s Al Capone, the film chronicles Ness’ efforts to bring Copane down in the infamous Prohibition era. Instead of putting De Niro as the central antagonist, the film stands out from other by using the judicial system as the primal villain which is corrupted by the mob. The film did receive several scathing reviews though, particularly for De Niro’s accent in the film. However, Costner’s impeccable performance as the righteous cop was well received and he earned the Academy Award for Academy Award for Best Actor in a Supporting Role.

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12. Casino (1995)

Martin Scorsese is the pioneers of gangster flicks and this movie just prove his worth. Upon its release in 1995, Casino seemed quite similar to his earlier venture, i.e. 1990s Goodfellas but slowly rose above it to become a film of its own kind. Depicting the extraordinary and extravagant life imbued with materialism and dirty politics, Casino is a brilliant sketch of the Las Vegas lifestyle in the 90s. The lead cast of Rober De Niro, Joe Pesci and Sharon Stone masterfully encapsulated the different characters – a picture perfect casino owner, a frightening “nut-job” and a self-absorbed narcissistic woman.

Adapted from Nicholas Pileggi’s non-fiction book Casino: Love and Honor in Las Vegas, the movie was a huge box office success. Stone in particular was unanimously praised for her performance earning Golden Globe Award for Best Actress in a Motion Picture – Drama and nomination for Academy Award for Best Actress. The movie effortlessly depicted the Italian Mob’s muscle and power that brought in top gamblers to run their day-to-day illegal operations.

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