An image of a young Ray Liotta

Best Ray Liotta Movies & TV Shows, Ranked

Ray Liotta was one of the most talented actors of his generation. Best known for roles such as The Goodfellas, Something Wild, Unlawful Entry, Field of Dreams, and The Rat Pack, Liotta boasted an edge, energy, and fervor that was difficult to replicate. While his name is almost synonymous with The Goodfellas, the truth is that Liotta really did it all when it came to the wide array of characters he portrayed.

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With a career that spanned a staggering 44 years, Liotta portrayed everyone from crooks to Frank Sinatra, to a divorce attorney to the ghosts of baseball players. Not only that, but he still has at least five more films that are in production or post-production, waiting for release. Unfortunately, these films will be posthumous releases, as Liotta sadly passed away on May 26, 2022.

The actor was 67 years old and, at the time of his death, was in the Dominican Republic, filming yet another movie, Dangerous Waters. His unexpected death has caused much shock and sadness, especially among the numerous people he worked with over the years. However, many memories and tributes have also flowed in, remembering Liotta for his kindness, humor, charm, and talent. In memory of Liotta, here are a number of his best films and TV shows.

10. Shades of Blue

Ray Liotta as Lt. Matt Wosniak in Shades of Blue

Shades of Blue was a crime drama starring Ray Liotta and Jennifer Lopez. The series ran for three seasons and follows Harlee (Lopez), a NY detective who ran with a group of a corrupt cops in order to give her daughter a bright future. However, when forced to work for the FBI’s anti-corruption task force, she must find a balance between doing what’s best for her and her daughter, while remaining loyalty to the corrupt cops she befriended, particularly Matt Wozniak (Liotta).

Liotta and Lopez’s performances are truly what hold up this series. Their characters share a complicated father-daughter bond, due to Wozniak’s guilt over the death of his own daughter. While Shades of Blue doesn’t go much deeper than every other story about crooked cops, it still boasts emotion and solid performances, and is very entertaining and watchable. It is also one of the very few TV shows that Liotta boasted a lead role in.

9. The Many Saints of Newark

Ray Liotta as Aldo Moltisanti in The Many Saints of Newark
(Warner Bros.)

The Many Saints of Newark was one of Liotta’s most recent films, releasing in October of 2021, a crime drama that serves as a prequel to the HOW show The Sopranos. The show follows a teenage Tony Soprano (Michael Gandolfini) who is growing up during the tumultuous time of the 1967 Newark riots. Tony navigates the violent times alongside his uncle and idol, Dickie Moltisanti (Alessandra Nivola). The film explores how Dickie and the time period influenced the impressionable young Tony and set him on the path of becoming the powerful mob boss audiences saw in The Sopranos.

Liotta joins the cast in two roles, portraying twin brothers “Hollywood Dick” Moltisanti and Salvatore “Sally” Moltisanti. Both of the men are prone to violence, and one is serving a life term in prison for murder. Liotta, Gandolfini, and Nivola work very well together to create a tragic picture of family dysfunction and violence. Gandolfini especially, whose father played the older Tony Soprano in The Sopranos, gives a goosebump-worthy performance. Everything about the film was quite spot-on. However, it was a prequel to a well-established series in the form of a feature film, so while The Many Saints of Newark provided a good story on its own, it didn’t quite provide one with particular value to The Sopranos.

8. The Rat Pack

Ray Liotta as Frank Sinatra in The Rat Pack

The Rat Pack was a made-for-television film that premiered in 1998 and starred Liotta as Frank Sinatra. The film dramatized the relationships between the members of the Rat Pack—Sinatra, Dean Martin (Joe Mantegna), Sammy Davis, Jr. (Don Cheadle), and Peter Lawford (Angus Macfayden)—and their run-ins with the likes of the Kennedys, Marilyn Monroe (Barbara Niven), and Sam Giancana (Robert Miranda).

The Rat Pack was probably one of most unique roles that Liotta took on during his career. While we commonly see him in the roles of mobsters, cops, and detectives, it isn’t often we see him as a classic pop star. However, he portrayed the role well, though it is exceedingly difficult for anyone to fully encompass Sinatra’s charisma and pragmatism. The Rat Pack as a whole received mixed reviews, mostly because many perceived it as dredging up old gossip and drama without reason. Others, though, believed that it respectfully handled the dark tones of the time and exposed the real world of entertainment without quite ruining the glamour of the stars of the 1960s.

7. Cop Land

Ray Liotta as Gary Figgis in Cop Land
(Miramax Films)

Cop Land premiered in 1997 and boasted an A-list cast including Liotta, Sylvester Stallone, Robert de Niro, Harvey Keitel, and Michael Rapaport. The film follows Freddy Heflin (Stallone), the Sheriff of a small town in New Jersey, who must contend with a group of crooked cops from NY who are hunkering down there after covering up a crime.

Cop Land is a very ambitious film that gives an intriguing look into police corruption and violence. The film is definitely bolstered by its star-studded cast, although all of those big names did give the film unreachable expectations. Liotta’s performance as Gary Figgis, and Stallone as Heflin, especially drew praise. Meanwhile, the film succeeded in being unique and setting itself apart from typical corrupt cop flicks. However, the film also did suffer from an uneven tone, as Cop Land doesn’t seem exactly sure of what it wants to be.

6. Marriage Story

Ray Liotta as Jay Marotta in Marriage Story

Marriage Story premiered in 2019 and is one of the most critically acclaimed films Liotta appeared in. The film follows the story of a couple going through a grueling coast-to-coast divorce. While the couple is going through the most painful period of their divorce, they must also attempt to keep it together for the sake of their son, Henry (Azhy Robertson). Scarlett Johansson stars as Nicole Barber, while Adam Driver portrays her husband, Charlie. Liotta appears in the film as Jay Maratto, Charlie’s divorce attorney.

Marriage Story received largely positive reception and was nominated for multiple Academy Awards. The film is heartbreaking, touching, and gives a compassionate look at the trials of divorce. While Liotta portrays only a supporting role, he is behind one of the most emotionally charged moments of the film. This occurs when he and Nicole’s lawyer go toe-to-toe in the courtroom and truly show the ugly side of divorce. While not everyone will appreciate this weighty drama, those who embrace its realism will find it’s a true masterpiece.

5. Unlawful Entry

Ray Liotta as Pete Davis in Unlawful Entry
(20th Century Fox)

Unlawful Entry is a 1992 psychological thriller starring Russell Crowe, Madeleine Stowe, and Liotta. The film follows Michael (Crowe) and Karen Carr (Stowe), a husband and wife who befriend a lonely cop named Pete Davis (Liotta). However, when Liotta develops an obsession with Carr, things quickly deteriorate. The friendship becomes a fight for survival as the couple realizes they are dealing with a truly unhinged man.

Unlawful Entry is a chilling and thrilling story that makes you question who you can trust. It capitalizes on everyone’s worst fear that a simple kind gesture to a stranger will suddenly turn deadly. Meanwhile, Liotta’s performance is the true backbone of the series. He truly embodies the “cop from hell” persona and holds nothing back in his unhinged performance. Of course, it’s not exactly a unique plot and gives way to some meaningless bloodshed. However, the dark twists and strong performances makes for a gripping and entertaining thriller.

4. Narc

Ray Liotta as Henry Oak in Narc
(Paramount Pictures)

Narc is a gritty crime thriller that premiered in 2002 and stars Liotta and Jason Patric. The film follows undercover narcotics officer, Nick Tellis (Patric), a man on suspension looking to get back into his boss’s good graces. Hence, Tellis reluctantly sets out to investigate the murder of an undercover cop. Joining him is Lt. Henry Oak (Liotta), the vengeance-seeking partner of the murdered cop. Their mission quickly gives way to unethical practices and unravels the dark interior of the narcotic world.

Narc is a dark film that proves effective in the unapologetic way it tackles the police force, crime, and the drug world. It is brutal, harsh, cynical, and realistic, making it a particularly thrilling crime drama. Not only that, but Liotta and Patric are at their very best in this film. Patric is emotionally scarred from his work in the field, while Liotta is an unstable man who will stop at nothing to get vengeance for his partner. The two make an unlikely duo, but their stellar performances, the dark tone of the film, and thrilling pace make this an exceptionally good crime thriller.

3. Field of Dreams

Kevin Costner and Ray Liotta in Field of Dreams
(Universal Pictures)

Field of Dreams marked another one of Liotta’s more unique roles. The film premiered in 1989 and follows Ray Kinsella (Kevin Costner), a farmer who hears a voice one day urging him to build a baseball field. Despite many thinking him ridiculous, he builds the field and the ghosts of baseball legends, such as Shoeless Joe Jackson (Liotta), begin flocking to the field to play.

Field of Dreams is truly a magical film that is part sports drama, part fantasy, and part fairy tale. Somehow, all of these different parts come together, and the film works exceptionally well. Field of Dreams is simply seeping with emotion and is a heartbreaking exploration of the regrets of those who have passed on. At the same time, though, it’s also a celebration of passion and imagination. While some may find it too sappy, Field of Dreams is ambitious, imaginative, and a truly enjoyable modern day fairy tale.

2. Something Wild

Ray Liotta as Ray Sinclair in Something Wild
(Orion Pictures)

Something Wild was the film that made most people realize Liotta was in the film industry to stay. The film, like its name suggests, is completely wild from start to finish. The offbeat romance comedy follows the energetic, free-spirited Lulu (Melanie Griffiths), who strikes up a relationship with Charles (Jeff Daniels). However, the relationship quickly gives way to an impromptu road trip filled with thieving, police chases, and car crashes. Things turn dark fast, though, when Lulu’s violent ex-convict husband shows up and isn’t content to let her and Charles continue their romance.

Something Wild is quirky, eccentric, and completely unpredictable. It ends somewhere far, far removed from how it starts out. Meanwhile, the characters are charmingly off-kilter and keep the film’s momentum going. It’s funny, creative, and takes a common premise and flips it on its head. Liotta, meanwhile, offers one of the best performances of his career in Something Wild. In fact, it was actually his breakout role and garnered him several awards and nominations. In the line with the movie, he becomes wild and scary as the unhinged and jealous Ray Sinclair. Something Wild may not have much depth or meaning, but it makes up for that by being very enjoyable entertainment.

1. The Goodfellas

An image of a young Ray Liotta
(Warner Bros.)

Goodfellas is a gripping biographical crime drama that premiered in 1990. The film is an adaption of the non-fiction book Wiseguy by Nicholas Pileggi and follows the rise and fall of mobster Henry Hill (Liotta). Hill is enamored with criminal life, utilizing it to climb the ranks and live a life of glamour and luxury. However, his terrible actions have consequences for others and will eventually catch up with him, as well.

Goodfellas gained critical acclaim following its release. Martin Scorsese’s masterful directing was highly praised, as were the electric performances of Liotta, Robert de Niro, and Joe Pesci. The film gives a powerful look at the allure of the mob life, as well the consequences that typically follow it. It’s an incredible observation of the mob lifestyle and offers solid performances, a smart script, and a solid direction. As far as crime films go, Goodfellas is among the very best.

(featured image: Warner Bros.)

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Rachel Ulatowski
Rachel Ulatowski is a Staff Writer for The Mary Sue, who frequently covers DC, Marvel, Star Wars, literature, and celebrity news. She has over three years of experience in the digital media and entertainment industry, and her works can also be found on Screen Rant, JustWatch, and Tell-Tale TV. She enjoys running, reading, snarking on YouTube personalities, and working on her future novel when she's not writing professionally. You can find more of her writing on Twitter at @RachelUlatowski.