best film: Raging Bull but Pesci has been in the 4th best movie of all-time (Raging Bull), 19th (Goodfellas) and 87th (JFK) not to mention one of the best 10 films of the 1980’s with Once Upon a Time in the West. Raging Bull was Pesci’s breakout and it proved out the De Niro and Pesci collaboration (helmed by Scorsese of course). It’s one of the best films of all-time and Pesci is spectacular in it standing next to probably the best performance of all-time by De Niro. Oddly enough he worked with De Niro five times (an additional two times outside of the collaborations with Scorsese).
best performance: Goodfellas and it’s a very easy choice but I think a lot of Pesci’s top three performances so saying that it’s his best by a wide margin is no slight to those other performances but a compliment to his work in Goodfellas. Pesci’s Tommy DeVito is a charismatic sociopath. Pesci won the Oscar for his work here and rightly so. He outdoes the great De Niro and delivers an absolute tour-de-force in a top 20 all-time film. His “funny how?” sequence is a justifiably classic sequence in film history and it is so, because of the acting- not Scorsese or even Liotta. We have the shine-box sequence and the poker sequence- funny scenes that turn into horror on a dime.
stylistic innovations/traits: Pesci has 8 films in the archives and 4 of them are masterpieces—he’s close to John Cazale but Cazale doesn’t have a Goodfellas (Cazale’s Fredo would be Pesci’s “Joey” from Raging Bull). If Pesci, Scorsese and De Niro are The Beatles Pesci is definitely George Harrison and that’s a compliment. The knock on him as we climb close to the top of this top 100 list is the lack of depth in the filmography and that is fair—it has to be recognized. I wish we had more of Pesci.
directors worked with: Scorsese (3), and then Leone and Oliver Stone once. Those collaborations with Scorsese (one more coming up!) make Pesci. I guess you could argue that should be a knock against him but that’s an impossible game to play.
Top 5 Performances:
- Raging Bull
- My Cousin Vinny
|1980- Raging Bull|
|1984- Once Upon a Time in America|
|1990- Home Alone|
|1992- My Cousin Vinny|
|1993- A Bronx Tale|