5 Best Martin Scorsese and Leonardo DiCaprio Collaborations

Wolf or Gangs? Departed or Shutter?

After the initial announcement nearly a decade ago, Martin Scorsese and Leonardo DiCaprio have restarted development for the new Hulu series The Devil in the White City. Plans for DiCaprio to star in a film adaptation of Erik Larson’s 2003 book have changed since DiCaprio bought the rights back in 2007. Instead, DiCaprio and Scorsese plan to produce a TV series on the notorious series killer H.H. Holmes, alongside Paramount Television.

DiCaprio and Scorsese have proven themselves to be a dream team in the film industry — DiCaprio becoming the new Robert De Niro of Scorsese’s recent filmography. In light of their newest collaboration since 2013, let’s take a look at the best DiCaprio and Scorsese movies.


5. Gangs of New York (2002)

Gangs Of New York 4
Credit: Miramax

A gory tale of life in New York, Scorsese gives the gangster genre a 19th century spin. DiCaprio stars as an Irish immigrant out for revenge on his father’s crazed murderer, sensationally portrayed by Daniel Day-Lewis.

A parallel is set between DiCaprio’s personal want for vengeance and the broader fight against prejudice against the Irish people. Scorsese and Lewis craft an iconic slasher villain, with his lust for violence pushing viewers to the edge of their seat. As with all of Scorsese’s later works, Gangs of New York is bursting with chaos, violence and a killer cast list. Lewis effortlessly dominates with unpredicted mania, but that isn’t to say the rest of the performances aren’t impressive.

It’s important to note this was the first collaboration between DiCaprio and Scorsese, with rumours that their on-set relationship was a little strained. But does this translate onto screen? If so, it isn’t necessarily a downfall. In fact, DiCaprio’s frustration invariably helps fuel his grieving, vengeful character arc.


4. The Aviator (2004)

cate blanchett aviator
Source: The Oscar Buzz

In Scorsese’s grand biopic, we witness the true story of aviator, filmmaker and businessman Howard Hughes, who made his name as the richest man in the world. Although Scorsese does focus broadly on Hughes’s achievements and grand adventures, beneath the surface lies a battle with mental illness.

DiCaprio perfectly encapsulates the confident, zesty personality of a playboy billionaire, while balancing it with the quiet, boiling paranoia of OCD. Scorsese switches between Hughes’s public, personal, and private lives — one minute talking business at a glamorous restaurant, the next trapped in a public bathroom scrubbing away at his own skin.

Scorsese embroiders The Aviators colour palette with vivid greens and reds, reminiscent of Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo (1958). The glamorous lifestyle of the 1920s and 30s is the antithesis of Hughes, who -despite trying to be a socialite- only deteriorates further into isolation. It’s worth noting The Aviator is a lengthy epic, despite what the simplistic posters may have you believe, just so you know what you’re setting yourself in for.


3. Shutter Island (2010)

Perhaps the most commercially known collaboration, Shutter Island is a well-loved piece of modern cinema. Most notably for the shocking plot-twist, which places Shutter Island on IMDB’S list of movies you have to watch twice to understand.

Scorsese’s neo-noir thriller takes us on a physiological trip through a criminal investigators mind- with a short-cut to insanity. DiCaprio and co-star Mark Ruffalo must search the grounds of Attercliffe Hospital for the criminally insane after a patient suddenly goes missing.

The eerie and unsettling atmosphere is perfectly captured by Scorsese, who drops hints throughout the film with exquisite subtlety. A glass of water suddenly disappearing; unexplained notes and strange dreams. Shutter Island echoes with mystery and something not-quite-right. A stylized tale of horror and illusion, Shutter Island broods in its own self-doubt. Scorsese handles the narrative delicately, offering us nuggets of information piece-by-piece, rather than an onslaught of expositional flashbacks like many thrillers revert to. Sharp performances and menacing music bookend a marvellously crafted plot, playing on the senses days after watching. Trust me: it’s worth the second watch.


2. The Wolf of Wall Street (2013)

Leo The Wolf of Wall Street
Source: www.goodonnetflix.com

The Wolf of Wall Street is nothing if not daring. Starring DiCaprio, Jonah Hill, Margot Robbie and an iconic musical appearance from Matthew McConaughey, Scorsese takes another stab at the biopic epic. Jordan Belfort is, as the title suggests, the ‘wolf’ of Wall Street. The hit movie is based on Belfort’s own memoirs, detailing his journey from working in a boiler room to becoming a rich, legendary stockbroker.

The drug fuelled black comedy exudes with confidence, even receiving criticism for ‘promoting’ corruption. Scorsese imbues the cinematography with energy, reflecting Belfort’s hectic, shady lifestyle with extravagant tracking shots and the signature Scorsese freeze-frame.

It’s a roller-coaster ride to watch, but one that doesn’t skimp on depth. The scope of The Wolf of Wall Street dazzles, while pertaining in that small world behind the curtain of Belfort’s exaggerated persona.


1. The Departed (2006)

The Departed 1

Scorsese’s remake of the 2002 Hong Kong movie Internal Affairs is an Academy Award Winner for Best Picture, Best Director and Best Adapted Screenplay. DiCaprio stars as an undercover state trooper assigned to infiltrate the Irish mob. But the boss (Jack Nicholson) has already planted a spy within the police force (Matt Damon). The trio force of established actors (not to mention Mark Wahlberg, Martin Sheen and Alec Baldwin) directed by the talented Scorsese makes The Departed a highly regarded piece of gritty thriller.

Scorsese is well adverse in the art of gangster movies, with films such as Mean Streets (1973) and Goodfellas (1990) proving classics in cinema. After a brief hiatus, Scorsese’s return to the urban packs a punch — literally, with some intense action sequences. However, there’s more than just fight scenes to The Departed. Deceit and corruption are integrated not just through violence, but skilfully crafted dialogue and apprehensive camerawork. A smooth use of contrast allows The Departed to balance its wild spirit with subtlety and suspense. A must-watch movie for any Scorsese fan.

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