One thing that the 35th anniversary of "Raging Bull" (released December 19, 1980) reminds us of is how vividly alive Martin Scorsese's movies are. You can watch them over and over and still enjoy the twists and turns of the ride. And your tour guide, for all his artistic pretensions, all his references to the movies and songs he's catalogued in his encyclopedic brain since childhood, is a showman and entertainer first, bent on seducing and dazzling you before making you think.

From a remarkable career that's lasted nearly half a century so far, it's hard to pick just a handful of must-see movies. Even Scorsese's misfires are more fascinating and watchable than many directors' successes. Still, if you have to separate the essential from the merely great and pretty damn good, you should start with these 11 movies.