Scorsese's best film? Difficult to call, though if it doesn't beat Raging Bull, it runs it a close second. What's indisputable is that Marty hasn't made a film to touch it since. For all its flutters of greatness, Casino feels like a pale imitation; Bringing Out The Dead and The Age Of Innocence replace soul with technical excellence; while the epic fumblings of Kundun and Gangs Of New York seem fake and heavy-handed next to GoodFellas' lithe energy.
It's a movie made by a man at the top of his game, a filmmaker with something to prove after The Last Temptation of Christ's tepid box-office return. Scorsese spent an age adapting Nicholas Pileggi's book Wise Guys into a screenplay, and it's a mark of just how seriously he took Henry Hill's 30 years in the Mafia that the script bears his name (as co-author) for the first time since Mean Streets.
Joe Pesci's psycho killer Tommy steals the limelight, but repeated viewing lets you appreciate just how good everybody else is too. New members of Scorsese's gang (Lorraine Bracco, Paul Sorvino) slip into character seamlessly, while Ray Liotta (in only his sixth film) will never be this superb again.
But let's not forget Robert De Niro. Everytime you see him mug his way through cack like Analyze That or Showtime, just cast your mind back to the moment when Jimmy Conway realises he's going to have to kill everyone involved in the Lufthansa heist. Acted with the eyes and a half-twist of the mouth, it's chilling in its Method perfection. If Scorsese was at the top of his game, De Niro was right up there with him.