The 10 best Ray Liotta movies and TV shows

In a sad state of news, actor Ray Liotta has passed away at the age of 67. And as the world mourns one of the greatest actors in cinema, folks are taking a look back on the actor’s most iconic work during his illustrious career. Throughout his groundbreaking career, Liotta has assembled an impressive vita of memorable performances — many of which highlighted his unequaled range and dedication to each role.

Over his widely-successful, decades-long career, the New Jersey native has received numerous accolades for his emotionally-charged performances that have left audiences and critics in awe. While the gifted actor will be sorely missed, his standout performances will live on in our hearts and minds forever. Let’s take a look at Ray Liotta’s 10 best performances in movies and television shows across his career.

Hanna (2021) 

Among some of his very last appearances in entertainment media, Liotta delivered an incredible performance over six episodes in the third and final season of Amazon Prime’s Hanna. In the series, a powerful group known as Pioneer took children’s DNA and transformed them into super-soldiers for the government.

Liotta portrays Gordon Evans, a power-wielding villain behind the dominant CIA program known as UTRAX. As ruthless and crooked as one can be, Liotta plays the villainous role with such precision that leaves you shaking your head.

John Q (2002)

John Q is easily one of the greatest sleeper-hit movies of the last twenty years. Led by Oscar winner Denzel Washington, the drama-thriller tells the story of titular character John Quincy (Q) Archibald who, after an insurance company refuses to cover his son’s heart transplant, takes matters into his own hands and holds a hospital hostage to save his son’s life.

Liotta memorably portrays Chief Gus Monroe, a hardened figure who desperately tries to de-escalate the hostage crisis. With his overbearing nature and acting prowess, Liotta delivers one of his best performances in cinema.

Shades of Blue (2016-2018)

If there’s one thing certain about the legendary acting skills of Ray Liotta, he’s perfectly fit to portray a crooked cop — in fact, he’s done so several times throughout his career. And in Shades of Blue, Liotta kept the tradition going, starring alongside Jennifer Lopez in the NBC drama series.

In the crime-fueled series, Liotta plays Matt Wozniak, a hopelessly-corrupt lieutenant who is entangled in a fierce anti-corruption investigation with the FBI. Liotta portrays the role of a crooked cop as marvelous as he ever has, and it easily fits in as one of his best television roles.

Killing Them Softly (2012)

Another memorable neo-noir crime thriller is Andrew Dominik’s Killing Them Softly, which featured an ensemble cast of Brad Pitt, James Gandolfini, Richard Jenkins, and of course, Ray Liotta. The movie follows a gang of crooks who infiltrate a Mob-related gambling operation, which results in two hitmen targeting them in retaliation.

Liotta plays Markie Trattman, a lackey for the Mob who oversees a protected card game that members of the Mob participate in. The action-packed movie features plenty of memorable moments, and a strong performance from Liotta before Beyond the Pines.

The Place Beyond the Pines (2012)

The Place Beyond The Pines is truly one of the most recognizable movies on this list, and with a gripping narrative and worthy performances — notably from Ryan Gosling, Bradley Cooper, and of course, Ray Liotta — it’s no wonder it rings in as one of his very best.

And, as always, Liotta memorably portrays a corrupt cop by the name of Detective Peter Deluca. As the film progresses, it is revealed that Deluca is targeted by Cooper’s character Avery Cross. With several gut-wrenching moments and memorable dialogue, Liotta delivers a standout performance.

Cop Land (1997)

Cop Land is an often-forgotten staple in dramatic cinema, but it’s easily one of those sleeper hits that deserve a second watch. And with a star-studded lineup that includes Sylvester Stallone, Harvey Keitel, and Robert De Niro, it’s hard to give this neo-noir crime/drama a miss.

Liotta plays Gary “Figgsy” Figgis, one of the corrupt cops in the local New Jersey town that is orchestrating crime while simultaneously trying to keep it covered up. Liotta delivers some of his best lines in cinema while giving a performance that easily replicates his success in Goodfellas.

ER (2004)

ER was one of the most successful television shows in the medical drama sub-genre, spanning a total of 15 seasons. The critically-acclaimed series featured several guest-star appearances, and out of them all, Ray Liotta’s performance in “Time of Death” is consistently voted as one of the best.

In the season 11 episode, Liotta plays Charlie Metcalf, an alcoholic ex-con with a troubled life who receives a chronic diagnosis. The 44-minute episode showcases the hardships of Charlie’s life and features several monologues that are tear-jerkers. Liotta ended up winning an Emmy award for his performance in the episode.

Marriage Story (2019)

Marriage Story is one of the most gut-wrenching, intimate movies in the modern age of cinema. Starring Adam Driver and Scarlett Johansson, the movie follows their characters going through a heated divorce.  On top of its accurate storytelling, Liotta delivers one of the best performances later in his career.

In the film, Liotta plays Jay Marotta, the second lawyer that Adam Driver’s character Charlie goes to in assistance with his divorce. Marotta is a hard-hitting lawyer that packs a punch in the courtroom, and Liotta provides a fair amount of comedic relief where it’s desperately needed.

Field of Dreams (1989)

Field of Dreams is one of those feel-good movies that have obtained a strong cult following over the years. Starring alongside legendary actor Kevin Costner, the movie tells the story of a farmer who begins speaking with the ghosts of baseball superstars that offer him advice.

Liotta memorably portrays iconic baseball star “Shoeless” Joe Jackson who, while appearing to Kevin Costner’s character Ray, convinces Ray to patch things up with his father after the two have suffered an estranged relationship over the years. It stands as a worthy performance from Liotta and definitely one of his best.

Goodfellas (1990)

Unsurprisingly, Martin Scorsese’s crime masterpiece, Goodfellas ranks at the very top of this list. After all, it’s the movie that made Ray Liotta a household name and opened up a window of opportunities for him in Hollywood. The film tells the story of a group of real-life gangsters running an organized crime ring.

In Goodfellas, Liotta famously portrays real-life mobster Henry Hill who, after he testifies against his former associates, is placed into a witness protection program. It showcases the troublesome lifestyle of members of the Italian mob, and is culturally significant in the realm of cinema. It is undoubtedly Liotta’s best performance, and a memorable fixture in his brilliant career.

About the author

Taylor Mansfield

Taylor Mansfield

Fascinated by the art of journalism, Taylor Mansfield has been writing for over 10 years. In the present day, she lends her expertise as a Staff Writer / Editor for WGTC, tackling a broad range of topics such as movies, television, celebrity news, and of course… *anything* horror! Because wherever there is horror — Taylor isn't far behind. She has previously contributed to entertainment sites such as GamersDecide, MovieWeb, and The Nerd Stash.