With the May 26, 2022, news that actor Ray Liotta died, legions of movie fans figure to carve out time to watch Goodfellas. Liotta plays Henry Hill, and the Martin Scorcese classic revolves around Hill’s story. Liotta turned in a masterful performance (one that required a trip to the hospital during filming), but he ultimately went award-free for his work. When you’re done watching Goodfellas and marveling over the legendary Steadicam shot that got botched on the first take, check out these five Liotta movies (in no particular order) and celebrate an accomplished and perhaps underrated career.
There are several Liotta movies in which he plays police officers (Phoenix, John Q, Cop Land, The Place Beyond the Pines) or law enforcement officials of some sort (Hannibal, Crossing Over). Yet Narc might be the best of the bunch. Liotta plays detective Henry Oak, an aggressive, on-edge, and morally flexible cop.
Liotta plays the nearly-unhinged Oak to a T, taking his portrayal right to the edge without stepping over it. The interplay between Liotta and co-star Jason Patric helps make what could be a standard good cop-bad cop movie one worth watching.
2. ‘Field of Dreams’
The story of this 1989 movie revolves around Kevin Costner and James Earl Jones, but Liotta plays a pivotal role. As the ghost of Shoeless Joe Jackson, Liotta turns in an understated performance as a character that helps bring the story full circle for Coster’s Ray and Earl Jones’ Terrence.
At the time, Field of Dreams was just Liotta’s third movie. He garnered positive reviews for the role, and it’s now archived in the Library of Congress, but as of 2021, he had never seen it.
Goodfellas was Liotta’s next movie, and his performance there somewhat overshadowed his fine performance in Field of Dreams. Watch it, and make sure you have a box of tissues handy.
The Heartbreakers sequel Jennifer Love Hewitt wants to make might look quite a bit different without Liotta. Love Hewitt, Sigourney Weaver, and Gene Hackman take center stage in the 2001 comedy, but Liotta shows he can play more than the tough guy.
Sure, his Dean Cummano character brandishes a gun, mutters dozens of euphemisms for sex, and swears like a sailor, but Liotta capably hits the comedic notes needed to make it work.
As part of an ensemble cast in this 2003 thriller, Liotta plays Rhodes, a convict disguised as a cop. A collection of characters find themselves at an out-of-the-way motel during a torrential rainstorm. No one can leave — alive, anyway.
Saying too much would spoil the plot, but Liotta does quite a bit with his screen time, and the movie is one of the highest-rated Liotta movies on IMDb.
5. No Escape
In the far distant future of 2022 (hey, it was 1994, OK?), Liotta plays Capt. J.T. Robbins who is sent to a prison planet for the assassination of his commanding officer. The movie is based on the 1987 novel The Penal Colony, per IMDb. But one could also describe it as a retelling of Lord of the Flies, but with more explosions and decapitations.
It may not be award-winning cinema, but the film gives Liotta a chance to show off his action-movie chops, and he delivers.
That’s our list of Ray Liotta movies to watch after marveling at Goodfellas again, but he leaves behind several memorable performances in dozens of movies. Pick your favorite and celebrate the life and work of an underrated actor.
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