77. Raging Bull (1980)
Martin Scorsese is one of America's finest directors with a compendium of great films to prove it (Mean Streets, Taxi Driver, The Last Temptation of Christ, GoodFellas, The Departed, etc.). He has molded and extracted brilliant performances from actors like Harvey Keitel, Ray Liotta and Leonardo DiCaprio. In Raging Bull, he does his best with one of the best, Robert De Niro. De Niro gives a tour-de-force Oscar-winning portrayal of boxer Jake La Motta with his usual method acting edge. Both actor and director complement each other so well in this film. The story and characters (based on La Motta's semi-autobiography) are each riveting, especially Joe Pesci as Jake's little brother. The movie is so well-constructed that at times it feels like Grand Opera (without the music). The emotions are heightened, the adrenaline rushes and the stakes are so high for each player. The film even opens to the sounds of an Italian aria. To me, this is Scorsese's (and De Niro's) opus and is a perfect film.
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