When it comes to movies, it is undeniable that some of the greatest cinematic moments and quotable lines of all time have come from the genre of crime movies. In this article, we will cover what in our opinion are the best crime movies of all time.
Maybe you want to find action crime films, or crime thrillers, or perhaps even a crime comedy movie or a crime drama. Well, you have come to the right place!
So, Tommy guns at the ready, here is our list of the best crime movies of all time.
Stay tuned to see if we included your favourite!
With a screenplay written by Nick Cave and based on the book The Wettest County in the World by Matt Bondurant, Lawless had all the ingredients of a great movie from the outset and marks it out amongst the best crime movies based on true stories.
Tom Hardy, Shia Le Beouf, and Jason Clarke play Forrest, Howard, and Jack Bondurant. Three brothers who ran a moonshine business at the height of prohibition laws in 1930s Virginia.
Added into the mix are Hollywood heavyweights Jessica Chastain, Gary Oldman, and Guy Pearce. Who of which plays a particularly mean Charley Rakes, a lawman bent on finding out if the Bondurant legend is true. This is really is one of the best true crime movies ever made. Furthermore, the fact that it is true makes it all the more worth the watch.
In what might not be the most obvious setting for a comedy, this movie picks up with hit men Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson arriving in the Belgian town of Bruges following their murder of a priest that went wrong.
But a comedy this is, and an absolutely hilarious one! It also involves a movie star addicted to ketamine (Jordan Prentice), his drug dealer (Clémence Poésy), and Farrell and Gleeson’s crime lord boss, Ralph Fiennes.
In a list of top crime movies, it would be hard not to feature one of Guy Ritchie’s films. Different top 10s will probably all include the likes of Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, Rocknrolla, and the modern-day adaptations of Sherlock Holmes starring Robert Downey Junior and Jude Law. However, for us, Snatch will always be one of the great comedy crime movies.
Stuffed full of quotable lines (“Do you like Dags?”) and an ensemble cast that includes Brad Pitt, Vinnie Jones, Jason Statham, Jason Fleming, and Benicio Del Toro, it is easily one of the best crime movies on Amazon Prime.
The newest of the films on this collection of the best crime drama movies, The Irishman stars some of the most famous crime actors ever. Joe Pesci, Robert De Niro, and Al Pacino – and it is directed by Martin Scorsese.
The film, which runs for 3 hours, was a Netflix exclusive and is a fictionalised re-telling of the true story of the disappearance of Jimmy Hoffa. Based on the book I Heard You Paint Houses by Charles Brandt.
It is still arguably one of the best crime movies on Netflix and cleverly jumps between different time periods in Frank Sheeran’s life. This is in order to illustrate the long and complex relationship he has with crime boss Russell Bufalino. As well as how that relationship influences the moral compromises he makes in service to Bufalino.
Sticking with De Niro and Scorcese, number 6 in our list of the best crime thriller movies is Taxi Driver. Released in 1976, Taxi Driver was widely expected to win the Oscar for best film. But was pipped to the post by Sylvester Stallone’s Rocky.
De Niro plays Travis Bickle, a 26-year-old Vietnam veteran suffering from post-traumatic stress and living a lonely life in New York. As his mental health deteriorates and he finds it harder to engage with normal life, Bickle becomes more and more violent. Battling between his moral code and his anger.
When he meets a child prostitute during his taxi shifts, his life is turned around and he focuses on trying to save her from the life she is living.
This dark and compelling movie starring Ryan Gosling, Carey Mulligan, and Bryan Cranston is a masterpiece.
The story depicts an almost mute Hollywood stuntman and mechanic who moonlights as a getaway driver. He is balancing the demands of his boss who has taken a loan from a gangster to fund a new racing team, with a new relationship with his neighbour and her son. All whilst her former partner returns from prison.
Also of note is the awesome 80s-inspired soundtrack which features College, Riz Ortolani, and the Chromatics.
Titled Cidade de Deus in Portuguese, this Brazilian movie released in 2002 in Brazil and 2003 worldwide, depicts the struggles of two kids from the slums of Rio as one looks to become and photographer and the other a kingpin.
Loosely based on real-life events, the plot demonstrates the growth of organised crime in the Cidade de Deus favela of Rio with the climax of the movie the war between kingpin drug dealer Li’l Zé and vigilante-turned-criminal, Knockout Ned.
The film has a gritty realism and the cinematography is just incredible. Additionally, most of the actors cast in the movie were residents of favelas such as Vidigal and Cidade de Deus itself.
“Say hello to my little friend!” is one of cinema’s most famous movie quotes. Up there with “I am your father” and “If my calculations are correct, when this baby hits 88 miles per hour you’re going to see some serious sh*t”.
Al Pacino’s Tony Montana was based on real-life mobster Al Capone. The movie itself is actually a remake of the 1932 original of the same name and depicts a Cuban refugee who arrives penniless in Miami in the 1980s. Who of which goes on to become a powerful drug lord.
It is one of the more violent crime movies. But it’s significance in terms of pop culture cannot be understated.
The Godfather trilogy is a masterpiece. By Part II has a certain allure about it that makes it stand out amongst the franchise.
Directed by Francis Ford Copolla with a screenplay co-written by Mario Puzo – Al Pacino, Diane Keaton, Robert De Niro, and Talia Shire are all on fantastic form. With De Niro winning an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor for his performance.
The Godfather – Part II is both a sequel and a prequel. Simultaneously depicting the 1958 story of Michael Corleone, the new Don of the Corleone crime family, protecting his business in the aftermath of an attempt on his life. As well as the 1901-1941 journey of Michael’s father Vito Corleone, as an immigrant from Sicily to New York and the founding of the family’s enterprise.
The film can, of course, be watched in isolation. But it’s even better in the context of the first and third installments.
“You think I’m funny? Funny how? Funny like a clown? Do I amuse you?”
Ray Liotta, Robert De Niro, and Joe Pesci, directed by Martin Scorcese – Goodfellas is in our opinion the best of the best crime thriller movies. It depicts the rise and fall of mob associate Henry Hill. The film has a really interesting feel and flows to it as lines were improvised during rehearsals. Scorcese then took the lines he liked the best input them into a revised script, so there is a natural flow and feel to the dialogue.
The story is really fascinating, as relationships between aspiring gangsters change over time.
There we have it! Our list of the best crime movies of all time!
Picking out a top ten of the best crime mystery movies was actually really hard! There are so many to choose from! Looking back at the list above, we haven’t even touched upon the likes of Donnie Brasco. Which is probably one of the best crime movies on Hulu if you subscribe to that service!
What it does show is that the crime genre is incredibly rich and there are hundreds of incredible films in the genre to check out! So, what are you waititng for? Grab yourself a crime movie and enjoy!
Would you like to read more exciting film and movie content? Then head over to the Music Gateway blog – we have got you covered! There’s a range of articles for you to check out. For example, the Best End Of The World Movies, Best Business Movies and so much more!
Are you an independent filmmaker, or interested in the crossover between music and film? Then check out our article on music supervisors. With our concierge and service and extensive music library, allow us to help you find music for your film. Sign up free for Music Gateway now!