Known for its distinct love-to-hate/hate-to-love characters, HBO’s hit TV show The Sopranos was hugely popular during its run and has only grown in popularity over the years since its ending.
As fans await the much-anticipated prequel movie, The Many Saints of Newark, it’s frequently wondered whether there are many movies that can match The Sopranos‘ tone and quality. These 10 movies appear cut from the same cloth as the show and, in some cases, directly inspired it as well as sharing a number of actors with it, making them must-see choices for Sopranos fans.
Martin Scorsese’s undeniable masterpiece not only revolutionized the crime genre but perhaps the entire process of relaying a story through visual means.
Chronicling the rise and fall of famed real-life mobster Henry Hill, Goodfellas humanized the most inhuman of characters with its darkly exhilarating and comedically relatable depictions of extraordinary–yet somehow still true-to-life–crimes, forming the largest part of The Sopranos‘ foundation. (Not to mention the number of cast members that they share.)
The Drop (2014)
Tom Hardy stars alongside the late, great James Gandolfini (in his final movie role) for this intimate-but-powerful crime drama set in modern-day Brooklyn.
Gandolfini’s character clearly riffs on the legacy of Tony Soprano, and it makes for a very poignant final performance, but the mundane realism of The Sopranos‘ view of organized crime is also present throughout the movie along with the trademark bursts of sudden violence.
Romanzo Criminale (2005)
Much like Goodfellas, The Sopranos would be nothing without its strong sense of culture originating from Italy and Italian crime movies have been as impacted as American ones by the force of classics like Goodfellas and The Godfather.
Taking things back to the roots of flashy, unrestrained, mob mentality is this unabashed gangster saga set primarily in 1970s Rome. It may not ever rival The Sopranos‘ quieter dramatic moments but it feels like a wild offshoot of the same family tree, like when Tony visits his relatives in Naples.
The Death of Stalin (2017)
Armando Iannucci’s pitch-black comedy examines the death of the Soviet Union’s most infamous and feared figure in the spirit of the writer/director’s hit political satire shows Veep and The Thick of It, mixing relatable conversation-based humor with some of the worst atrocities recorded by history.
Even when compared to the unrepentant psychopaths of Tony’s crew in The Sopranos, Stalin’s inner circle, lead by Steve Buscemi’s Kruschev, take the prize as some of the most cutthroat characters that can still frequently make you laugh.
The Wolf of Wall Street (2013)
Martin Scorsese’s modern masterpiece takes the same energy cultivated by him and editor Thelma Schoonmaker on Goodfellas, and developed further in 1995’s Casino, but this time transposes the crime world in focus from the Italian American mafia to the unscrupulous world of Wall Street.
Leonardo DiCaprio leads an electrically-charged cast as real-life self-confessed stock trading sleazeball Jordan Belfort, chronicling his rise and fall through the lifestyle of being in the 1% with Sopranos-esque dialogue courtesy of Boardwalk Empire creator Terence Winter.
What Doesn’t Kill You (2008)
An autobiographical drama of sorts from writer and director Brain Goodman, What Doesn’t Kill You is in touch with The Sopranos‘ unglamorous view of a life of crime that seems more pathetic than desirable from its brutally honest perspective.
Mark Ruffalo takes the lead in the movie as Goodman’s fictional counterpart and his troublesome friendship with Ethan Hawke’s character, coupled with his struggles with addiction, produces some brilliantly naturalistic performances and will conjure up memories of many of The Sopranos‘ many doomed lowlives.
Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead (2007)
The final movie of legendary director Sidney Lumet took his staggering career out on a remarkably high note with this intimate slice of crime drama. Ethan Hawke gives another incredible performance in the movie as the youngest brother of a very troubled family, playing opposite late great legends Philip Seymour Hoffman as his elder brother and Albert Finney as his father.
Though not connected to organized crime in any way, this small clan from New York gives the mobsters a run for their money with their ill-fated story about a desperate plan involving the brothers robbing their own parents’ jewelry store. If the cuttingly real performances of The Sopranos were what you loved best about the show then Before the Devil Knows Your Dead will give you the level of quality you need.
Mean Streets (1973)
Martin Scorsese’s breakthrough picture began him in earnest down the path of crime movie mastery and introduced the world to one of cinema’s greatest actor/director pairings ever with his first movie collaboration with scene-stealing star Robert De Niro.
Sopranos fans will also recognize another significant first appearance with Richie Aprile himself, David Proval, making his debut screen appearance as Tony in this essential American crime classic.
Killing Them Softly (2012)
James Gandolfini takes a thoroughly Tony Soprano-like role as a mobster friend of Brad Pitt’s lead enforcer in Andrew Dominik’s dark, gritty, and heavily metaphorical take on the financial recession of 2008, as told through a troublesome crisis of confidence seen in the underworld after a sketchy illegal card game robbery.
Sopranos fans will also surely recognize Vincent Curatola, a.k.a. Johnny Sack, in a similarly double-dealing role. In touch with both The Sopranos‘ vague artistic side and its brutally straight-talking one, Killing Them Softly is a unique experience that hits home in a strange way that fans of the show will appreciate.
What many fans love best about The Sopranos is its convincingly realistic depiction of the horrific everyday crimes of organized crime and the matter-of-factness that their perpetrators bring to them. In these terms, there are few movies that can match the extensive detail of a show like The Sopranos in the space of a single feature-length movie but Matteo Garrone’s adaptation of Roberto Saviano’s non-fiction book about the activities of the Camorra in modern-day Italy manages this Herculean task.
Following several characters from all parts of the corrupt system that the crime syndicate controls, Gomorrah is a hauntingly real portrait of moral/societal decay that, like The Sopranos, depicts a very ugly thing in a deeply affecting way.