The late Ray Liotta was a fantastic actor who appeared in around 90 movies in a performing career that spanned six decades. Sadly, he passed away in 2022, suffering from several medical problems.
Liotta's filmography includes some superb films, but he'd also be the first to admit there were some stinkers. It was as if he loved acting so much that he'd take up any opportunity to do it. But it's his finest credits that we want to celebrate in this piece, so let's get going with Ray Liotta's best 21 movies, ranked up to the very best one.
1. Sin City: A Dame to Kill For (2014, directed by Robert Rodriguez and Frank Miller)
Sin City: A Dame to Kill For is an action crime anthology movie, the sequel to 2005's Sin City, and primarily based on the second book in director Miller's Sin City series, A Dame to Kill For. It features five stories in the eponymous city, with various iconic tough and grizzled characters interacting.
Like the first Sin City movie, this one is visually stunning, but it's nowhere near as good as its predecessor. The fantastic cast performs excellently, including Mickey Rourke, Jessica Alba, Josh Brolin, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Bruce Willis, and Christopher Lloyd. Liotta ably plays Joey Canelli, a married businessman cheating on his wife.
There is plenty of action and the series' trademark stylish violence, but Sin City: A Dame to Kill For is sometimes dull.
2. Stretch (2014, directed by Joe Carnahan)
Stretch is a comedy crime movie that focuses on the eponymous Kevin “Stretch” Brzyzowsk, a limousine chauffeur struggling in life who suddenly finds his life in danger after he picks up an enigmatic and eccentric millionaire.
Patrick Wilson brilliantly plays Stretch, and Chris Pine plays the rich man he picks up. Jessica Alba and Ed Helms round out the great main cast. Liotta only has a minor cameo as himself, but Stretch is too good to leave off this list, regardless. It's hilarious, raucous, and pure carnage from beginning to end, and it will have you howling with laughter all the way through.
3. Hannibal (2001, directed by Ridley Scott)
Hannibal is a psychological horror crime thriller and a sequel to 1991's The Silence of the Lambs, based on Thomas Harris' 1999 novel. In this one, Clarice Starling attempts to apprehend her old foe, the cannibalistic serial killer Hannibal Lecter, before his surviving victim, Mason Verger, captures him and feeds him to pigs.
It's nowhere near as good as its predecessor, but it's well-acted enough to ensure it's on this list. Liotta plays Justice Department official Paul Krendler, and he's excellent. Unfortunately, Julianne Moore's Starling lacks the chemistry with Anthony Hopkins' Lecter that Jody Foster had. It's intelligent, creepy, beautifully filmed, and genuinely disturbing at a couple of points, but Hannibal is also sometimes toothless.
4. Blow (2011, directed by Ted Demme)
Blow is a biographical crime drama movie based on a 1co993 book by Bruce Porter. It chronicles the real-life stories of U.S. trafficker George Jung and those connected to him, including narcotic lords Pablo Escobar, Carlos Lehder Rivas, and the infamous Medellín Cartel.
Liotta plays Frederick “Fred” Jung, George's father, and he's perfectly adept in the role as he goes from being the father of a ten-year-old to the dying father of a son in jail. Johnny Depp competently leads Blow's excellent cast as George, and Penélope Cruz plays his wife, Mirtha. It's a well-told and performed story, but its main problem is that its main character is a bit of an underwhelming idiot.
5. The Iceman (2012, directed by Ariel Vromen)
The Iceman is a biographical crime movie loosely based on the real-life story of the hitman and general criminal Richard Kuklinski. Kuklinski did everything from running burglary rings and distributing pirated adult material to killing people in cold blood.
The impressive cast includes Michael Shannon as Kuklinski, Winona Ryder, Chris Evans, James Franco, David Schwimmer, and Stephen Dorff. Liotta plays Roy DeMeo, a mobster Kuklinsky had dealings with, and he's appropriately menacing in the role. The Iceman is a well-acted movie that's sleek, sharp, and stylish. However, given the plethora of top talent involved, it's a tad underwhelming.
6. Youth in Revolt (2009, directed by Miguel Arteta)
Youth in Revolt is a romantic comedy-drama movie based on C.D. Payne's 1993 epistolary novel. It's about a lonely and timid teenager desperate who meets an attractive girl while on a trailer park vacation with his mother and her boyfriend. Smitten with the girl and desperate to lose his virginity, he rebels to be with her once they separate.
Micheal Cera is excellent as Nick, the main character, while Portia Doubleday shines as his love interest. The supporting cast includes Zach Galifianakis, Fred Willard, and Steve Buscemi, making for an entertaining watch. Liotta plays police officer Lance Wescott, Nick's mother's boyfriend, and he's excellent. Youth in Revolt is an amusing romp of a film full of chaos, vulgarity, and biting satire.
7. Snowmen (2010, directed by Robert Kirbyson)
Snowmen is an independent family coming-of-age comedy-drama movie about three young boys who try to set the Guinness World Record for the most snowmen built in a day, battling bullies and other issues in their attempts to do so.
The three leading child actors, Bobby Coleman, Bobb'e J. Thompson, and Christian Martyn, and their young supporting cast make this movie what it is. Snowmen is funny, charming, thought-provoking, and has a positive message about friendship. It may be too offbeat for some viewers, however. Liotta plays Reggie Kirkfield, one of the kids' fathers, and he plays his part with enthusiasm.
8. The Many Saints of Newark (2021, directed by Alan Taylor)
The Many Saints of Newark is a crime drama movie and a prequel to the iconic HBO series The Sopranos. Set in Newark, New Jersey, in the 1960s and 1970s, it chronicles a brutal gang war from a mobster and his teenage nephew Tony Soprano's perspectives amid the city's 1967 riots.
Liotta plays twin brothers in this one, and he impressively gives them distinct personas. James Gandolfini's son Michael is excellent as the young version of Tony Soprano, and the rest of the cast includes Jon Bernthal, Alessandro Nivola, Leslie Odom Jr., and Corey Stoll. The Many Saints of Newark is darkly funny, stylish, and engaging, but its cinematic nature constrains it compared to The Sopranos.
9. Unlawful Entry (1992, directed by Jonathan Kaplan)
Unlawful Entry is a psychological thriller about a couple who befriend a lonely police officer, who subsequently develops an unrequited fascination with the wife, resulting in a terrifying and traumatic ordeal with fatal consequences.
The obsessed cop, Pete Davis, is played by Liotta, and he's suitably unhinged in the role. Kurt Russell and Madeleine Stowe play the couple whose lives are turned upside down by him. Unlawful Entry is an inferior Fatal Attraction with genders reversed, but it's still a solid film. It's gripping, suspenseful, and frighteningly plausible.
11. Killing Them Softly (2012, directed by Andrew Dominik)
Killing Them Softly is a neo-noir crime movie based on George V. Higgins' 1974 novel Cogan's Trade. Set during the 2008 United States presidential election and financial crisis, it follows a hitman hired to deal with the aftermath of a Mafia poker game robbery that badly damaged the economy in the criminal world.
With a solid cast that includes Brad Pitt as Jackie Cogan, the hitman mentioned above, Scoot McNairy, Ben Mendelsohn, and Richard Jenkins, Killing Them Softly is compelling. Liotta plays mob lackey Markie Trattman and brings a lot to the film. It's a brutal, stylish, and grimly amusing film that isn't for the faint-hearted.
11. Cop Land (1997, directed by James Mangold)
Cop Land is a neo-noir crime drama movie about a sheriff of a small New Jersey town who faces off with the numerous corrupt New York City police officers who reside in the area.
Sylvester Stallone plays Sheriff Freddy Heflin, who comes into conflict with the NYPD cops, and he does so very well. Liotta plays Gary “Figgsy” Figgis, a cop on the Sheriff's side, and he does so with plenty of zest. The likes of Robert De Niro, Harvey Keitel, Peter Berg, Michael Rapaport, and Robert Patrick help to make up an outstanding ensemble cast. Cop Land is an ambitious, suspenseful, hard-edged, brilliantly written film, although it does feel slightly too long.
12. Dominick and Eugene (1988, directed by Robert M. Young)
Dominick and Eugene is a drama movie about the lives of the eponymous twin brothers, one of whom is intellectually disabled because of an accident he suffered in his youth.
Tom Hulce plays Dominick “Nicky” Luciano, the twin with the disability, and Liotta plays his brother, Eugene “Gino” Luciano, who cares for him while studying to become a doctor. Both actors are fantastic and ably supported by Jamie Lee Curtis, who plays Jennifer Reston, Gino's love interest and a fellow student.
Dominick and Eugene is a heartfelt, pure, affecting, and beautifully acted film that perfectly deals with its sensitive material.
13. Kill the Messenger (2014, directed by Michael Cuesta)
Kill the Messenger is a biographical crime thriller based on Nick Schou's 2006 book of the same name and Gary Webb's 1998 book Dark Alliance. It centers on the suppressed attempts of a reporter to cover up the CIA's involvement in the sale of vast amounts of substances to fund the Nicaraguan Contras.
Liotta plays John Cullen, a CIA operative who appears near the movie's end, and he does so well enough in a brief role. Jeremy Renner plays investigative journalist Webb in the lead role and is fantastic. Rosemarie DeWitt, Tim Blake Nelson, and Michael Sheen are among the remaining great cast members. Kill the Messenger is an intelligent, honest, engaging, and powerful film.
14. The Place Beyond the Pines (2012, directed by Derek Cianfrance)
The Place Beyond the Pines is an epic crime drama movie that tells three stories about a motorcycle stunt rider involved in criminal activities, an ambitious policeman who confronts his corrupt colleagues, and two troubled teenagers who look into their actions years later.
The elite ensemble cast includes Ryan Gosling, Bradley Cooper, Eva Mendes, Ben Mendelsohn, Rose Byrne, Mahershala Ali, Bruce Greenwood, and Harris Yulin. Liotta plays Peter Deluca, an imposing police detective, and a role written for him, which he is unsurprisingly perfect for. The Place Beyond the Pines is ambitious, visually intriguing, atmospheric, and wonderfully woven together.
15. Muppets Most Wanted (2014, directed by James Bobin)
Muppets Most Wanted is a musical heist comedy movie and a sequel to 2011's The Muppets. The film sees the eponymous puppet characters embroiled in an international crime caper while on their world tour in Europe.
It stars Ricky Gervais, Ty Burrell, and Tina Fey and features many cameos, including Liotta as a Gulag inmate. Muppets Most Wanted is a blast with loads of catchy musical numbers, funny and intelligent jokes, fully committed performances from some massive stars, and all the expected fun from the ever-popular Muppets franchise. The whole family will love this one.
16. Narc (2002, directed by Joe Carnahan)
Narc is a neo-noir crime thriller about two police detectives' efforts to find the murderer of an undercover colleague. During their investigation, which includes unethical behavior and uncovering grisly secrets, their fragile relationship gets sorely challenged.
Jason Patric and Liotta play Nick Tellis and Henry Oak, respectively. They're the two detectives mentioned above, and both men are electrifying in their roles, which complement each other perfectly. Narc is a gritty, energetic, and stylish movie that puts a refreshing take on the buddy cop genre, and the ending is particularly satisfying.
17. Field of Dreams (1989, directed by Phil Alden Robinson)
Field of Dreams is a sports fantasy drama movie based on W. P. Kinsella's 1982 novel Shoeless Joe. In the film, a farmer gets mysteriously prompted to build a baseball field in his cornfield that causes the ghosts of baseball legends, including Shoeless Joe Jackson and the Chicago Black Sox, to come and play there.
Liotta ably plays Shoeless Joe Jackson in a relatively minor but pivotal role. Kevin Costner plays the farmer, Ray Kinsella, and Amy Madigan plays his wife, Annie. James Earl Jones is among the supporting cast. Field of Dreams received three Academy Award nominations, including Best Picture, but failed to win any. It's beautifully sentimental, ambitious, gorgeously filmed, and rather dreamy.
18. Something Wild (1986, directed by Jonathan Demme)
Something Wild is an action road comedy movie about a free-spirited woman who “kidnaps” a yuppie investment banker for a weekend of adventure. However, the fun quickly turns dangerous when her ex-convict husband appears, saying he wants her back.
This one stars Melanie Griffith and Jeff Daniels as the woman and the yuppie, while Liotta plays the ex-convict husband with genuine enthusiasm. Everyone performs brilliantly. Something Wild is a mega-fun screwball comedy with likable leads, quirkiness and charm, and highly unpredictable tonal twists, making for a hugely entertaining ride.
19. No Sudden Move (2021, directed by Steven Soderbergh)
No Sudden Move is a neo-noir period crime thriller about a group of criminals getting mysteriously brought together and having to co-exist and even cooperate in uncovering the truth when their seemingly easy job goes very wrong.
Liotta plays Frank Capelli, a Detroit gangster, in a typically adept fashion. The fantastic ensemble cast in this one includes Don Cheadle, Benicio del Toro, David Harbour, Jon Hamm, Brendan Fraser, Kieran Culkin, and Bill Duke. No Sudden Move is a tightly made, incredibly entertaining, beautifully filmed, and impeccably acted film with many great twists and turns.
20. Marriage Story (2019, directed by Noah Baumbach)
Marriage Story is a drama movie about a feuding couple going through a messy divorce while they live on opposite sites of the American coast.
It stars Scarlett Johansson and Adam Driver as the warring couple, with Laura Dern, Alan Alda, and Liotta, who plays one of the husband's lawyers, in supporting roles. All of the cast are fantastic in this. It was nominated for six Academy Awards, winning one for Dern as Best Supporting Actress. Marriage Story is powerful, devastating, sweet, and occasionally even funny.
22. GoodFellas (1990, directed by Martin Scorsese)
GoodFellas is a biographical crime movie based on Nicholas Pileggi's 1985 nonfiction book Wiseguy: Life in a Mafia Family. It chronicles the rise and fall of Henry Hill, a mob associate, and his friends and family in the 25 years spanning from 1955 to 1980.
Liotta plays Henry Hill in his best and most iconic performance. The rest of the superb cast includes Robert De Niro, Joe Pesci, Lorraine Bracco, and Paul Sorvino. GoodFellas received sixc Academy Award nominations, including Best Picture and Best Director, but only won one, for Best Supporting Actor for Joe Pesci. It's one of the best gangster films ever made and arguably the high point of Scorsese's brilliant career. It's perfectly cast, hard-hitting, stylish, and energetic.
Every moment of GoodFellas is pure entertainment.
Writer and editor with ten years of experience working full-time in this capacity. I've written over 2000 pieces of published work and managed teams of 50+ writers. I've produced content for some of the world's most prominent entertainment and sports platforms. My published work includes feature articles, news and opinion pieces, listicles, quizzes, voice-over scripts, viral content, and more. I'm a British 80s kid who loves movies (horror, superhero stuff, and all things 80s are my favorites), boxing, and football (soccer), a former business owner and executive headhunter, and a Tottenham Hotspur FC fan for my sins.