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The best -- and worst -- gangster movies

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Having spoken to the Godfather himself, CNN decided to respect the family of gangster movies. Here's our top 10 favorite mob-related flicks -- as well as the ones we'd like to see sleep with the fishes.

Don't agree? Think we've missed one? Post your comments to the Screening Room blog and we'll publish the best.

The best...

1. Godfather / Godfather Part II
Francis Ford Coppola, 1972; 1974
Coppola's masterpieces are not only the greatest film and sequel of the genre, but perhaps two of the best films ever made. Boasting casts featuring huge stars (Brando, Pacino, De Niro) they focus on the Corleone family, a mafia dynasty in New York from the 1920s to the late '50s. Slickly made, beautifully shot and featuring some of the finest screen performances on record.

2. Goodfellas
Martin Scorsese, 1990
"As far back as I can remember I've always wanted to be a gangster." Focusing on the dirty end of the mafia, this film charts the rise and fall of Henry Hill, a man of Sicilian-Irish descent who works his way up the tree of organized crime in New York during the '60s and '70s. Powerful and violent, this is one of Scorsese's finest moments. Joe Pesci earnt an Oscar playing an unpredictable and terrifying gangster: just don't call him funny.

3. Mou gaan dou (Infernal Affairs)
Wai Keung Lau & Siu Fai Mak, 2002
The basis for this year's Best Picture Oscar "The Departed," this is a tense and exciting thriller which hints at the strength and depth of Asian gangster movies. Steeped in nervy and fast-paced tracking shots around the underworld of Hong Kong, and embellished with two extraordinary performances from the two lead actors, Scorsese didn't need to change much to make it an Oscar-worthy picture.

4. White Heat
Raoul Walsh, 1949
"Made it Ma! Top of the world!" A true classic of the genre, starring one of the best known and loved gangster actors, James Cagney. A dangerously deranged criminal, who is obsessed with his mother and gives little thought to killing anyone who crosses him, breaks out of prison to avenge his mother's death and secure control of his gang -- but he unwittingly takes a rat into the organization. The blueprint for modern crime thrillers.

5. Once Upon a Time in America
Sergio Leone, 1984
An epic feast of sumptuous sets, beautiful tracking shots and outstanding performances, especially from Robert DeNiro and James Woods. A gang of children progress from small scale crimes to become embroiled in the mafia during prohibition in the U.S. with shocking and violent results. The framework that holds the story together is a dream-like wander through New York of 1968, where DeNiro relives his past. A beautiful and sedate shell to an elaborate and fascinating gangster movie.

6. Scarface
Brian De Palma, 1983
The archetypal and truly iconic sleazy '80s gangster movie, this is the American dream gone bad. Tony Montana, played by Al Pacino, arrives in Florida as a refugee from Communist Cuba, and sets out to make his fortune as a cocaine dealer, but becomes consumed with possessive greed. The movie has two of the most striking and memorable scenes in film history: one a torture scene with a chainsaw, piling on the tension with the screaming soundtrack; the other, of course, "Say hello to my leettle friend!"

7. Angels with Dirty Faces
Michael Curtiz, 1938
Another influential Cagney movie, and perhaps the first classic of the genre. The friendship of two boys from Hell's Kitchen is rekindled as one gets out of prison to find the other is a priest. Uncovering corruption throughout the city, this is a story of sacrifice and honor that proves gangsters are people too.

8. Get Carter
Mike Hodges, 1971
Michael Caine's finest hour, as he gets tough with the '70s gangsters of northern England. Relentlessly brutal, Caine works his way through the seedy underworld, and at every unpleasant turn gives a dry quip, seduces a femme fatale or wreaks bloody violence on the murderers of his brother. An unstoppable revenge movie.

9. Sexy Beast
Jonathan Glazer, 2000
One of the most extraordinary gangster films of recent times. Oscar-nominated Ben Kingsley gives one of his most remarkable turns, as a character that's the polar opposite of his most famous role, Ghandi. A misanthropic, bitter and aggressive gangster, with a penchant for colorful language, he makes this a truly unforgettable movie.

10. Cidade de Deus (City of God)
Fernando Meirelles & Kátia Lund, 2002
This Brazilian film shockingly paints a gangster world populated by children as brutal and heartless as any character in "Goodfellas." At once a beautiful and traumatic carnival, the movie flits between the gritty realism of life in the favelas of Rio and the dream-like existence of a child attempting to escape a world of crime.

And the worst...

Get Carter
Stephen T. Kay, 2000
Remakes of classics should be banned. A flat and stupid film featuring -- heavens above -- Sylvester Stallone wandering around attempting to play on his image as a meathead with a personality. Unfortunately, his personality is so weak the film is unwatchable. Its Hollywood-style ending insults the hard-nosed message of the original, which was uncomfortable for representing the seediness of the 60s underworld; this time round, we're cringing because it's awful.

Analyze That
Harold Ramis, 2002
"Analyze This" was a nice idea; not a patch on "The Sopranos," which has taken the theme of gangster-in-therapy to exciting and original places, but still a nice idea. The sequel is embarrassing. Repeating many of the same jokes, with two very talented actors, Robert DeNiro and Billy Crystal, doing their level best to destroy their highly esteemed careers, this is a sham of a film. Seeing DeNiro prance around a cell singing "I Feel Pretty" will make you cry.

Mickey Blue Eyes
Kelly Makin, 1999
This Rom-Com/gangster movie combo was destined for failure. It features a tired performance from Hugh Grant as another foppish apologetic Brit who downright loves a pretty girl; she just happens to be the daughter of Sonny from the Godfather. Hilarity ensues. It's weak, and awkward. James Caan and Hugh Grant? A bad idea, badly executed.

Dick Tracy
Warren Beatty, 1990
What a waste! A cast that would make any director weep, a huge budget, Warren Beatty directing after his critically acclaimed "Reds" and one of the biggest cult comic books as a basis. What happened? Let down by some very odd production choices and the casting of Madonna (truly bad), this may have been the inspiration for modern adaptations like "Sin City," but it took a tough and exciting comic and made it cartoonish and ridiculous.

Be Cool
F. Gary Gray, 2005
A hollow and blatant attempt to make money. Mixing some of the greatest actors in the business today with a list of celebrities who can't really act at all, it took everything that was good about "Get Shorty" and threw it away. At every turn where the original had been clever and cool, the sequel is silly and irritating. A waste of money, a waste of the likes of Harvey Keitel, James Woods and Danny DeVito, and a waste of time.

Your views

Now it's your turn. What are your favorite -- and worst -- gangster movies? Post your comments and suggestions to the Screening Room blog and we'll publish the best.

Read other CNN viewers' best and worst gangster movies >>


A master of his art: De Niro playing a young Don Corleone in The Godfather Pt II



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