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Joe Pesci received the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his portrayal of Tommy DeVito in 1990.

The film is #94 on the American Film Institute's list of 100 Years, 100 Movies and is consistently in the top 30 on the Internet Movie Database's list of top 250 films. In 2000 the United States Library of Congress deemed the film "culturally significant" and selected it for preservation in the National Film Registry. In 2005, a British film magazine, Total Film, named GoodFellas as the greatest film of all time.

Roger Ebert, a friend and supporter of Scorsese, named GoodFellas the "best mob movie ever" and placed it among the best films of the nineties. Ebert is not alone in his praise; many critics consider it a seminal film of the nineties. They consider it the third in his trifecta (Scorsese's earlier films Taxi Driver and Raging Bull were considered masterpieces of their respective decades, with GoodFellas a masterpiece of the nineties).

A highly influential film, it is perhaps the largest inspiration for the popular HBO series "The Sopranos", which also chronicles the life of a "working class" gangster. The presence of Lorraine Bracco as Tony Soprano's therapist and Michael Imperioli as Christopher Moltisanti further solidify the connection. Other actors who have had regular roles on The Sopranos and who also made appearances in the film include Tony Darrow, Tony Lip, Tony Sirico, Vincent Pastore and Frank Vincent. In all, 24 actors appeared in both GoodFellas and "The Sopranos". (They include: Lorraine Bracco, Frank Vincent, Michael Imperioli, Tony Sirico, Tony Lip, Vincent Pastore, Anthony Caso, Tobin Bell, Gene Canfield, Nicole Burdette, Gaetano LoGiudice, Vito Antuofermo, Chuck Low, Tony Darrow, Frank Adonis, Suzanne Shepherd, Nancy Cassaro, Frank Pellegrino, Marianne Leone, Paul Herman, Frank Albanese, Anthony Alessandro, Victor Colicchio & John "Cha Cha" Ciarcia.) The Soprano's use of pop music and its exploring the tension between nuclear families and mob families also had their genesis in GoodFellas.

The famous tracking shot which circles the Copacabana nightclub is regarded by film aficionados as one of the best camera shots of all time, considered on par with the opening shot of Touch of Evil. It was homaged in Paul Thomas Anderson's Boogie Nights and in Doug Liman's Swingers, also in which the characters talk about it being the best shot in any film. Also, another lengthy tracking shot earlier in the film moves around another nightclub, accompanied by Henry's voiceover that identifies the members of the gang. One of the gang even appears in the mirror behind the bar.

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