38. Raging Bull (1980)
Director: Martin Scorsese
Screenwriter: Paul Schrader and Mardik Martin
Let's talk about performance. The final moments of Martin Scorsese's boxing biopic concludes where it started, with a washed up and fat Jake LaMotta (a genuinely fat Robert De Niro) prepping for a tired stand-up routine. He looks into the mirror, his face a pudgy mass. He speaks lines from On the Waterfront, and thus what we have here is Robert De Niro playing Jake LaMotta playing Marlon Brando playing Terry Malloy as he delivers some of the most famous dialogue in movie history: "I coulda been a contender. I coulda been somebody, instead of a bum, which is what I am, let's face it. It was you, Charley."
Those lines, bounced out of this acting hall of mirrors, compress the bulk of the film's themes about gross masculinity and bad blood between brothers into something like a diamond, a perfect statement of purpose.
It's levels to this shit. —RS