One of the ironies of the New Hollywood movement of the 70's was that as Coppola, Bogdonavich, Scorsese, Friedkin and DePalma were all rebelling against the system, they simultaneously reinvigorated it.
Out of all the New Hollywood directors, the one that gained true independence from it all to make his films on his own terms, George Lucas, also ended up directing his 'artistic freedom' on the films that made him. Those films being the beloved Star Wars saga. Coppola bankrupted his Zoetrope studio, Friedkin's Sorcerer would bomb, Bogdonavich would fade into a footnote and become known as 'the man who directed Last Picture Show, Paper Moon and some other stuff'.
Then there's Mr. Scorsese. With the 1-2-3 punch of Mean Streets, Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore & Taxi Driver, the gangster and the priest inside him felt a little immune to failure. When New York, New York ended up getting a lukewarm reception it devastated him. With all the coke he had done along with him blacking out and winding up in a hospital, his decision to tackle Raging Bull came through.
Anyone who says a director is only as good as their last film is full of shit. There's just too many cases in which a veteran director has that lull in creativity only to strike back with fierce and fiery vengeance. How does one explain The Player & Short Cuts after the likes of Popeye? This is just as apt with Scorsese. The disappointment of New York New York could actually be considered a good thing for his career. In the long term of course. When '84 rolled around and the financial dropoff of his movie King of Comedy combined with the studio's unwillingness to give him his passion project Last Temptation of Christ, he just said "Fuck It!". So out comes After Hours.
Out of the New Hollywood 'brat pack' he was the one who landed on his feet. What makes him stand out among his colleagues it that sis work post- After Hours not only matched what he did in the 70's, in many ways it surpasses it in aesthetic variety and uncompromising excellence.