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02.07.2007by: Jim Law

Top 10 Joe Pesci Roles

Joe Pesci turns 64 later this week (Feb. 9th) and with his recent return to the big screen in THE GOOD SHEPHERD (which I haven't seen so forgive me if his performance should be here) I figured there was no better time to celebrate his greatness. Joe has disappeared from the new release section of your newspapers for over six years while he focussed on singing and golf. Is he making a comeback? Is he still an angry little man? I'd ask him these burning questions if I wasn't so scared of getting a pen to the throat or shot in the foot or a glass mug across the face. For now I'll continue to worship his brilliance from a distance.

10. Louie Kritski - THE SUPER (1991)

Lame concept, cheesy dialogue, ridiculous scenarios, great Joe. The guy has a gift when it comes to playing out of place assholes. Seeing him play basketball is something special and watching him dance alone in his apartment always reminds me of the time my wife walked in on me listening to her Bee Gees Greatest Hits CD in the garage.

9. Tommy Spinelli - 8 HEADS IN A DUFFLE BAG (1997)

At this point in his career Joe could pull this character off while in a coma, but he still manages to bring the goods. His interaction with David Spade and Todd Louiso doesn't hurt matters either. I'm not going to lie to you though - I wanted Joe P. to kill a lot of people in this film. A lot.

8. Nicky Cerone - EASY MONEY (1983)

Joe's angry Italian shtick fit perfectly in this forgotten classic. Let's be honest though, if you need a guy fitted in a velour track suit and oversized gold chains to hop the rail at a race track, pull a jockey from his horse, and then beat him senseless, who else are you going to cast?

7. Harry Lime - HOME ALONE (1990)

As one half of the stupidest burglar duo in the history of crime, Joe allows us to feel his pain as he spends the better part of two hours getting his ass handed to him by a an eight-year-old. In real life this kid would have been whacked by the second act. Screamy bastard.

6. DAVID FERRIE - JFK (1991)

The fast talking, nervous twitching Ferrie knew a lot more than he was spilling about the end of the Thirty-Fifth President of the United States. What he didn't know, apparently, was how f*cking stupid that wig looked coupled with those giant merkins he tried to pass off as eyebrows.

5. Leo Getz - LETHAL WEAPON 2 (1989)

Whatever you want, Leo gets. This is the type of one-liner Joe perfected during his three-film run as Leo, the federal witness that just won't go away. For a series that didn't really need comedy relief, Joe slides in nicely here, giving Murtaugh (Danny Glover) and Riggs (Mel Gibson) a verbal punching bag to pass the time when they're not busy killing people.

4. Vincent Gambini - MY COUSIN VINNY (1992)

Marisa Tomei may have won the Oscar for her role in this (no, seriously, she won a frickin' Oscar for this) but Mr. Pesci still owns every scene he's in. The dialogue exchanged between Vinny and Herman Munster (the great Fred Gwynne) is priceless and you can never go wrong with The Karate Kid as background entertainment.

3. Nicky Santoro - CASINO (1995)

Is this Joe's last great performance? Will he ever be able to reach such vile and sadistic character traits without getting a lifetime ban from the MPAA? Nicky Santoro is hateful and harmful little man that will literally cut you off at the knees so he can look you in the eyes while he finishes your life. I've never even attempted to cheat at blackjack because of this movie. Pesci sees everything.

2. Joey La Motta - RAGING BULL (1980)

With glimpses of the short temper that made his characters famous and an Oscar worthy performance alongside his hetero-life-partner, Bobby De Niro, Joe made a name for himself right here. De Niro's Jake La Motta is considered by some to be the greatest acting performance of all time and it's a treat to see Pesci hold his own with every scene he's given in his first major motion picture.

1. Tommy De Vito - GOODFELLAS (1990)

They can hold back Scorsese's Oscar as long as they want (he wins this year, pencil it in) but there was no denying Joe after giving a performance in this film that was, for lack of a better term, f*cking awesome. This movie couldn't get any better and it's no coincidence that Pesci leaves the most memorable taste in your mouth every time you watch it, which should be, at least, once a year. We all deserve a little Joe Pesci once a year, that's why I hope the comeback has begun and the foul mouthed ass kicking continues.

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