I've heard Goodfellas referred to as the "working class" mobster flick, with the profanity and graphic violence that characterizes Scorsese and that disgusts the wealthy class who embraced Godfather's deceptively patriarchal vision of love. Perhaps, but what really made Goodfellas unique was the way Scorsese made the mundane cinematic, and mocked the over stylized storyboarding of the most obvious mainstream director cliches. In short, Scorsese didn't film a movie, as much as he captured the absurdity and misanthropy of real life. Goodfellas' strange but real world sense of humor and palpable tension between egomaniacal figures paved the way for Tarantino and David Chase's The Sopranos. In essence, a deconstruction and caricatured rebuilding of what a crime drama ought to be.
Martin Scorsese's masterpiece features a lot of unlikable characters and snitching wise guys. But Tommy DeVito was so menacing he managed to play antagonist to even the bullies and murderers that trusted him. Joe Pesci's brings this character to life and gradually builds fear from its basest element, since in plain view Tommy Devito is short, goofy looking and has the voice of an Italian clown. Few actors could make such an under whelming presence into a modern monster.