YMMV / GoodFellas

  • Award Snub: GoodFellas, Scorsese, and Bracco lost to Dances with Wolves, Kevin Costner, and Whoopi Goldberg for Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Supporting Actress, respectively. In hindsight, GoodFellas is considered Scorsese's greatest film. On the other hand, Joe Pesci not only got a fully deserved Oscar for Best Supporting, he didn't even expect to win and gave one of the shortest and most modest speeches in Academy history ("It's my privilege. Thank you.")
    • Ray Liotta wasn't even nominated. Even Scorsese was disappointed.
    • Also nominated but failing to win was Thelma Schoonmaker for Best Editing. The fast-pace editing of GoodFellas was controversial at the time but in hindsight it's considered one of the most expertly edited films of the last 30 years.
    • For some (most notably, Roger Ebert and Gene Siskel), the loss for Best Director was particularly galling. Kevin Costner was already listed as a co-producer for Dances With Wolves (the heavy frontrunner for Best Picture), so it seemed redundant for the Academy to honor him again as a Director over Marty, especially given how much the latter's direction was specifically praised and analyzed. To make matters worse, Wolves was Costner's film debut, and many already thought Scorsese was due for recognition after losing out for Raging Bull against Robert Redford and Ordinary People (coincidently enough, Redford had beaten Marty for a directorial debut, also).
  • Do Not Do This Cool Thing: Despite the fact that the movie deconstructs many standard gangster film tropes and has something of a Downer Ending, it's still considered one of the coolest depictions of the Mafia ever put on film - by members of the Mafia themselves, even. The gangster that DeNiro's character was based on was reportedly thrilled such a great actor was portraying him, and kept trying to get in touch with DeNiro from prison to give him pointers. Similarly, the real Henry Hill wrecked his witness protection because he couldn't resist bragging about the movie. (Not that anyone cared to kill him at that point.) Yet by the end of the movie almost the entire extended cast is either in prison, witness protection, or dead- almost universally via brutal murder, to say nothing of all the domestic abuse, paranoia, treachery, drug addiction, police investigations and violence that the characters end up going through. It is still loved by gangsters and wannabe gangsters. Which might not be a bad thing since it's one of the few movies that shows gangsters from their perspective rather than that of Moral Guardians and shows them Warts and All. Word of God admits that he dislikes movies telling audiences what to feel or think or telling them what's cool or not, when its up to each viewer to decide for themselves.
  • Harsher in Hindsight: During the parts focusing on Henry's childhood, it's easy to think that Henry was destined to be a troublemaker when he was young. However, in real life, Henry suffered from a number of learning disabilities that had remained undiagnosed at the time. Since his teachers had no concept of conditions such as Dyslexia in the 1950s, they just assumed Henry wasn't interested in school and labelled him a failure. In fact, Henry himself stated that he never learned the alphabet until he was 20. Henry's inability to fit in at school was one of the primary factors leading him into joining the mob.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight: And to think, this won't be the last time Ray Liotta gets involved with a mob...
    • Henry Hill, a short form of which is Hank Hill.
    • When Paulie is being arrested, one of his guys yells, "Why don't you go to Wall Street, get some real criminals. Cut to 20 years later and Scorsese makes The Wolf of Wall Street, the Spiritual Successor to both this movie and Casino and is pretty up front about how Wall Street brokers are just as corrupt as gangsters.
    • Michael Imperioli, best known as Christopher from The Sopranos, has one of his first roles as the waiter who runs afoul of Tommy. Plus, Lorraine Bracco.
    • Henry's moan at the end of the film that he can no longer get decent food was belied in 2002, when he wrote and published his own cookbook (The Wiseguy Cookbook), detailing how you can make decent Italian-American food when you don't have access to the best and freshest ingredients like he once did. It includes recipes for the entire meal he made the night he gets arrested (veal cutlets, ziti with meat sauce and green beans with garlic and olive oil) as well as many others, including the healthier diet he adopted later in life.
  • Love to Hate: Interestingly, of all the characters, Tommy is the most memorable of the entire film, he has a fanbase.
  • Memetic Mutation: Tons, with the "Do I amuse you?" scene topping the list.
    • "I'mma go get the papers, get the papers."
    • "As far back as I can remember... I always wanted to be a X"
    • Go to the comment section on any YouTube video with Frank Vincent in it and there's a good chance it'll be filled with 'shinebox' jokes.
    • DeNiro's "lil' bit" line during the Billy Batts scene.
  • Misaimed Fandom: Just like with most Gangster Movies, there are those who share Henry Hill's warped views of the perks of being a Gangster, namely that it's better "to be a gangster than a schnook" who waits in line.
  • Moral Event Horizon:
    • Jimmy crosses this when he has his conspirators in the heist murdered rather than share money with them.
    • Tommy completely obliterates it when he kills Spider.
  • One-Scene Wonder: Jimmy Two-Times. He only had one line and it became so memetic that almost anybody immidiately recognizes where it's from.
    Jimmy Two-Times: I'm gonna go get the papers, get the papers.
  • Periphery Demographic: Considered one of the quintessential mob films, reportedly by gangsters themselves.
  • Retroactive Recognition: This wouldn't be the last time Lorraine Bracco and Michael Imperioli were involved in a highly acclaimed gangster story.
  • Wangst: Having watched Henry become a major player in the Mafia, act as an accomplice in several major crimes (including murder and a major armed robbery), become a drug dealer, abuse his wife and eventually rat out all his friends and colleagues, it's hard to feel too sorry for him at the end when he whines about the fact that, now that he's in Witness Protection having escaped any prosecution and even mob retribution for his crimes, he's no longer a bigshot.
    • The delivery of his final speech, more angry than sad, indicates that the lightness of his punishment was intentional to an extent.
    • This might be to keep him from being too much of a Karma Houdini- the punishment seems light to everyone else, but it's torture for him. Compare his "Egg noodles and ketchup" complaint about the misery of living life as an "average nobody" to when he was in prison as a wiseguy and eating like a king every night.
  • What an Idiot:
    • Jimmy wants to put a hit on Henry at the end because he is worried Henry'll squeal to the cops. It's the realization that he has a hit on him that makes Henry squeal in the first place. Note that despite the What an Idiot aspect, this really happened on several occasions.
    • Henry's exposition about his drug mule/babysitter; she is insistently told to leave the house in order to make a drug related phone call. And what does she do? She phones from the house. The narcs of course are wiretapping everything.
      So, what does she do after she hangs up with me? After everything I had told her? After all her yeah, yeah, yeah, bullshit? She picks up the phone and calls from the house. Now, if anybody was listening, they'd know everything. They'd know that a package was leaving from my house and they'd even have the time and the flight number. Thanks to her.
    • Tommy killing Billy Batts, despite him of all people knowing that Batts was a Made Man and therefore under official protection. This eventually leads to Tommy's death as revenge.
  • The Woobie: She may be a stereotypical overbearing Jewish Mother but Karen's mother is completely right about Henry, and in the end she loses her daughter to the Witness Protection Program with no promises of ever seeing her again.