1. The film’s treatment, some of which includes the spirited dialogue, sharp editing, first-person storytelling scenes, and last but not least the perfectly matched background music, makes Goodfellas an effort directional almost perfect.
2. The realism infused into the film, such as the realistic interactions between the gangster brood, the sheer scale of the sets (the 1960s prison sequence, roads and traffic, and most importantly, the bars and frequently visited pubs).
3. The characterization of Joe Pesci as a cold-blooded and foolish mobster Tommy DeVito. His Academy Award-winning performance showed Pesci in his histrionic prime, with as much volatility of temper as a Kodiak bear. His cold-blooded murders and occasional black humor slow the film down in a unique quality, as Pesci’s character effectively broke the stereotypes of the mafia as portrayed in Hollywood. His character is summed up when he tells Robert De Niro and Ray Liotta “I’ll take the shovel from my mother’s house” (after killing a rival in a bar and planning to bury him).
4. The long shot where Henry (Liotta) takes Karen (Lorraine Bracco) to dinner, and they get out of the car, go through the back door of the hotel, go through the restaurant kitchen and then into the restaurant, was a single shot and it was immaculate.
5. Karen’s gradual transformation from the fashionable young woman who initially falls in love with Henry’s glamorous lifestyle to an accomplice. The unprecedented events such as her husband’s nights out with reckless friends, the parties where wives discuss topics that are deplorable by normal moral standards, the stash of money, guns and drugs circulating around the house.
Goodfellas is the movie that had a gritty substance similar to how gangster movies should be made. One of the film’s culminating achievements was definitely the way in which Scorcese avoided the huge shadow cast by the Godfather series on the Hollywood landscape. Also, in some respects, Goodfellas overshadowed Coppola’s masterpiece, especially in the areas of music editing and long takes of singles.
Goodfellas is the quintessential gangster movie, with stellar performances from Joe Pesci and De Niro. In fact, it creates a new genre that didn’t exist. Chicago is rendered with almost documentary-style realism, which makes the film even more epic.