Despite people mostly knowing him as the star of Martin Scorcese’s modern mafia classic Goodfellas, Ray Liotta has shown up in plenty of different forms of media. He’s been in tons of TV shows, documentaries, and feature films after receiving a BFA and performing in musicals during his earlier career.
While he starred in plenty of films after the release of the critically acclaimed Goodfellas, he’s mostly been in supporting roles since then, in some very big films including Marriage Story in in 2019. He also voiced Tommy Vercetti in Grand Theft Auto: Vice City. We’ll be looking today at the most well-recognized achievements of this decorated talent.
Updated May 26, 2022: Ray Liotta has died at 67. The Primetime Emmy Award winner was in the midst of filming for the upcoming movie Dangerous Waters alongside Demi Moore and Margaret Qualley.
11 Cop Land (1997) 7.0/10
The only real issue with Cop Land that a lot of critics were able to find is that its characters and plot don’t exactly fill out the length of the film as well as they should. The movie tells the story of Freddy Hefflin, a sheriff who lives in New Jersey and always wanted to be a member of the NYPD.
As he begins investigating crimes taking place in his hometown, he realizes that the NYPD cops who live in his town are committing and orchestrating crime, which they then cover-up, and he decides to take the law into his own hands.
10 Dominick And Eugene (1998) 7.0/10
Dominick And Eugene features Ray Liotta side-by-side with Tom Hulce. It’s a drama that tells the story of a troubled relationship between two twin brothers, usually referred to as Nicky and Geno.
Nicky has some sort of learning disability that isn’t ever really specified, and Geno spends most of his time caring for his brother. As the movie rolls on, we see their relationship become more and more complex until it finally reaches a breaking point.
8 John Q (2002) 7.0/10
John Q is actually a film directed by a writer for another film on this list, Blow, by the name of Nick Cassavettes, who’s also an accomplished actor. It tells the story of the titular John Quincy Archibald, a man who can’t afford a heart transplant required to save the life of his son.
Since he can’t afford the insurance he has, he decides to go to the hospital and use force to make sure the surgery is performed. Ray Liotta plays Gus Monroe, a police chief overseeing the situation.
7 Narc (2002) 7.1/10
Narc is a feature film in which Ray Liotta plays Henry Oak, an unstable detective who’s been paired with the protagonist, Nick Tellis. Nick is an undercover narcotics officer, doing his best to figure out who was behind the murder of a police officer who died while investigating a drug operation.
The deeper they travel into the seedy underbelly of society, the more their relationship and job is in danger of falling apart due to some unethical behavior they engage in, and some secrets that come to light.
6 Identity (2003) 7.3/10
Identity is a slasher film that’s presented in a really interesting way, slipping in more context as the film continues, mostly from before the characters arrive at their hotel destination. The film isn’t quite in chronological order, allowing for even more surprises throughout the course of the main story and its B-story.
It’s an adaptation of an Agatha Christie novel, although it’s not direct and the novel forms more of an inspiration rather than being straightforward source material. Ray Liotta plays an escaped convict in disguise.
5 The Place Beyond The Pines (2012) 7.3/10
The Place Beyond The Pines is a neo-noir with plenty of compelling themes and a plethora of different issues across 3 different storylines.
While the film itself isn’t exactly connected in regard to the different storylines aside from the third one connecting to both of the first two, they all share in being explorations of the relationships fathers have with their sons, and of toxic masculinity and its effect on families. Ray Liotta plays Deluca, a corrupt detective who Bradley Cooper’s character works under.
4 Field Of Dreams (1989) 7.5/10
Field Of Dreams is a relatively popular sports-fantasy movie that even a lot of audiences long after release are probably familiar with. The film also made it into the Library Of Congress as being culturally significant.
The film stars Kevin Costner as a father who is estranged from his own father and believes he’s communicating with Shoeless Joe (played by Ray Liotta), a baseball player that his father used to idolize, which tells him how to reconcile with his father.
3 Blow (2001) 7.5/10
Blow is a pretty fictionalized biopic about George Jung, a real-life cocaine smuggler who was mainly active throughout the 70s and 80s, with an incredibly troubled life.
While Johnny Depp plays George and Penelope Cruz is the lead opposite of him, Ray Liotta also plays an important role, appearing as George’s father, Fred. George starts out just smuggling cannabis, only to be drawn in by the money involved in the cocaine trade.
2 Marriage Story (2019) 7.9/10
Marriage Story is the latest film from Noah Baumbach, probably recognizable to most people through the meme image of Adam Driver banging on a wall.
Aside from the inherent meme potential, it’s a heartbreaking film that tells the story of a couple struggling through a divorce, which takes major influences from Ingmar Bergman’s film Scenes From A Marriage. Ray Liotta is part of the supporting cast, portraying Jay Moratta, the second lawyer Charlie (Adam Driver) goes through.
1 Goodfellas (1990) 8.7/10
Goodfellas obviously tops this list. While it’s not as frequently talked about as some of Scorcese’s other films, namely The Godfather and The Godfather II, this film is a rather unique look at a topic Scorcese has put under the microscope more than a few times.
The movie is based on true events, although some artistic license is taken. The movie features Liotta as the star, portraying real-life mob associate, Henry Hill, and his struggle to find his place in the Italian organization.
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