Numerous notable things happened in 1990: Nelson Mandela was released from prison after serving 27 years, the Hubble Space Telescope was launched, Jonathan Lipnicki, the kid from Jerry Maguire was born; and so were Jennifer Lawrence, Kristen Stewart and Emma Watson. (Feel old, yet?)
Also in 1990, the movie Goodfellas was released. “No finer film has ever been made about organized crime — not even The Godfather, said the late great Roger Ebert. Directed by Martin Scorsese, the highly acclaimed film is narrated by and stars Ray Liotta as real-life mobster Henry Hill. Through a fast and time-twisting film style, Scorsese shows Hill’s career in the Lucchese crime family from a teenage do-boy to top wise guy to his decline as a drug-addicted paranoid mess.
The performances of Liotta and co-stars Robert De Niro, Joe Pesci and Lorraine Bracco create a gripping glimpse into the lives of glamorous corruption. Hill ended his career as a rat, to them, the worst thing you could be. He betrayed his mob family and went into the witness protection, exactly the opposite of what James "Jimmy the Gent" Conway (De Niro) told him early on “…Never rat on your friends and always keep your mouth shut.” The real-life Hill’s disloyalty continued, telling his story to reporter Nicholas Pileggi leading to the publication of Wiseguy: Life in a Mafia Family, which was the basis of the film.
Though it was nominated for six Academy Awards, the lone Oscar winner was Joe Pesci for his portrayal of the humorously agro Tommy Devito. You remember, right? “… but I'm funny how? I mean funny like I'm a clown? I amuse you? I make you laugh, I'm here to fuckin' amuse you?”
Goodfellas was unexpectedly beat out for Best Picture by Dances with Wolves and Kevin Costner beat Scorsese for Best Director. Yes, Kevin Costner won a Best Directing Oscar over Martin Scorsese. If I was Kevin Costner, that’s how I would introduce myself. (Costner is not the only to beat Scorsese, he has been nominated for Best Director eight times; his only win being for 2006’s The Departed.)
In celebration of its silver anniversary a Blu-ray 2-disc special edition will be released today, May 5, with various goodies including a 36-page photo book, a brand new documentary with interviews from the likes of De Niro, Liotta, and even Scorsese’s most recent main man Leonardo DiCaprio. The movie itself has been remastered under the supervision of the highly meticulous Scorsese assuring that (without using high tech mumbo jumbo) it’s going to look and sound really, really good.
So celebrate Cinco de Mayo how’d they celebrate it in the old country, make a nice chicken cutlet, pour yourself a glass of Chianti and watch 146 minutes of pure-cinematic genius.