10 Best Italian American Movies

Monday, March 14 by Shawn Lealos

What are the 10 best Italian American movies? The best Italian American movies are almost always gangster and mafia related. While some quality movies slip away from that genre, the better movies deal with the life and dangers involved in the mob. From Oscar winning masterpieces to smaller cult favorites, here are the best movies featuring Italian Americans.

  1. “Godfather” – One of the best Italian American movies ever produced is this Francis Ford Coppola masterpiece. The story follows the life of the Corleone family, as the Mafia Don Vito Corleone passes the reins on the family business to his war hero son Michael.
  2. “Godfather II” – Surpassing the quality of its predecessor, “The Godfather: Part II” is even better than the original and one of the best Italian American movies in cinema history. Al Pacino and Robert De Niro star as the back story of Vito rising through the ranks of the mafia plays out alongside Michael’s ascension to power in present day.
  3. “Goodfellas” – Martin Scorsese proves to be one of the best filmmakers of Italian American movies as he tells the true-life story of Henry Hill. Hill is a member of the mafia who turns over evidence on his mafia brethren in order to avoid jail time and opts instead for witness protection.
  4. “Mean Streets” – Martin Scorsese made his splash with this early Italian American movie about small time criminals in Little Italy. Robert De Niro and Harvey Keitel got their big break in this low budget movie. The movie also helped Scorsese get the financing to make his true breakout movie, “Taxi Driver.”
  5. “A Bronx Tale” – This Italian American movie is the directorial debut of Robert De Niro. The movie was written by star Chazz Palminteri and is loosely based on his childhood. The story follows a young Italia American teen who is guided by both his good father and a mafia boss played by Palminteri.
  6. “Big Night” – This is one of the best Italian American movies not centered on the mafia. Campbell Scott and Stanley Tucci co-direct the movie that follows two Italian immigran brothers who own a restaurant in Jersey. Stanley Tucci and Tony Shalhoub star as the brothers who try to make it in America despite the odds against their success.
  7. “Do the Right Thing”Spike Lee made this amazing movie about one very hot day in a racially divided neighborhood. While the movie follows various characters, the film’s main battles are between the African American community and the Italian Americans who own the local pizza joint.
  8. “Mickey Blue Eyes”Hugh Grant stars as an English man who is engaged to a woman whose father is involved in the local mafia. One of the fun Italian American movies, this features a number of familiar faces including “The Godfather’s” James Caan and “The Sopranos’” Vincent Pastore.
  9. “Mac”John Turturro directs this, one of the better Italian American movies. The movie follows three brothers who follow in their father’s footsteps in the construction business when he dies. The oldest brother, played by Turturro, begins to lose control and pushes his family away in this Cannes award winning movie.
  10. “Prizzi’s Honor” – Jack Nicholson stars in this, one of the best Italian American movies of all time. Nicholson stars as a hit man who falls in love with a hit woman before they both learn they have been hired to kill each other. Kathleen Turner stars as the love interest in this John Huston directed film.
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