Martin Scorsese grew up in the Little Italy neighborhood of New York City. Since his asthma kept him from playing sports, he spent most of his days in a movie theater. A devout Catholic, he dabbled with becoming a priest before finally deciding to pursue a career in filmmaking.
After graduating from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts, Scorsese directed the independently-financed “Who’s That Knocking at My Door?” (1967), which introduced Harvey Keitel. He became a star director with “Mean Streets” (1973), an intensely personal and brutal examination of the neighborhood he grew up in. The film was the first of many he would make with Robert De Niro, who shot to stardom as the reckless hoodlum Johnny Boy.
The two reunited for the nightmarish “Taxi Driver” (1976), the first of several collaborations between the director and screenwriter Paul Schrader. The film reaped four Oscar nominations, including Best Picture and Best Actor for De Niro, yet Scorsese and Schrader were both snubbed, despite DGA and WGA bids.
He scored his first Oscar nomination as Best Director just four years later for “Raging Bull” (1980), a psychologically intense biopic of boxer Jake LaMotta (De Niro), again penned by Schrader. De Niro knocked out the competition in Best Actor, gaining 70 pounds to play the pugilist later in life. Scorsese went home empty-handed, despite helming what several critics declared the film of the decade.
Scorsese gained a reputation as one of the most snubbed filmmakers in Oscar history with unsuccessful bids for directing “The Last Temptation of Christ” (1988), “Goodfellas” (1990), “Gangs of New York” (2002), and “The Aviator” (2004), as well as for writing “Goodfellas” and “The Age of Innocence” (1993). He finally hit the awards jackpot with his gangland epic “The Departed” (2006), which walked away with victories for Best Director and Best Picture. He subsequently competed for directing and producing “Hugo” (2011), “The Wolf of Wall Street” (2013) and “The Irishman” (2019).
Take a tour of our photo gallery to celebrate 25 narrative films in his career. Do you agree or disagree with our rankings?