If you were forced to see only one mob movie in your lifetime, this one deserves your consideration.
The key in the success of Goodfellas is the dialogue. The script is just absolutely amazing. As profane and raw as it is, it really gives you a glimpse of how gangsters actually work and what they actually do. There's no denying the realistic nature of the film and how Scorcese's genius puts this film on the same level as "The Godfather", if not better.
The characters in this movie are captivating. De Niro's calm, collected character is offset by Pesci's loose cannon, loud-mouthed performance. Pesci definitely deserved the Oscar he won for this role, as he plays a character that is sick, as shown by his actions, yet likable all the same. That just shows what a great actor Pesci is.
Liotta gets Henry Hill down perfectly. His performance is one of the best in his whole acting career. He is innocent, yet violent; quiet, yet he has a temper at times; calm, yet crazy; his personality contradicts itself throughout the movie, yet this isn't a bad thing. In fact, it makes his character *that* much more interesting to watch.
Overall, this Oscar Winning, highly acclaimed picture deserves all the hype it gets: it's smart, realistic, and raw. These elements combine to form one of the best Gangster movies ever made. And yes, I think it is even better than "The Godfather".