The Ten Best Robert De Niro Movies Of All Time
Robert De Niro is one of the best actors to ever grace the silver screen, and the try to put together the ten best Robert De Niro movies is an extremely difficult task. There are so many quality films that could make the list, but somehow I have tried to narrow it down into a collection that I feel are the top ten. Let me know what you think!
The Godfather: Part 2 (1974)
Starring as the young version of Vito Corleone, before he became 'The Godfather,' De Niro excelled in this role. He spoke very little, but when he did it was powerful, and his actions were even more so. A performance that was so fantastic in it's ability to show how a man of such stature was made, and to portray his inner strength and power of will. Taking home an Oscar for the role, De Niro shone in a cast full of some of the finest actors ever. A true testament to his greatness, and a legacy defining performance in arguable the great movie ever made. The most memorable scene from the film is De Niro finally closing the story with the man who killed his father. Great stuff and easily one of the best Robert De Niro movies.
Once Upon A Time In America (1984)
Here we see De Niro across the entire life of a former gangster named Noodles, who worked during the Prohibition era. We follow his character from childhood, all the way through until his later years, and De Niro has never been better. The film is a true epic on a grand scale, and it allows De Niro the chance to play one of his most complex characters ever. One moment he is a morally sound man and the next he is performing deeds that cannot be excused. He does a wonderful job expressing the emotional torment and sense of regret, in particular in the later portions of the film, and his portrayal of Noodles is haunting. One of my my favorite De Niro movies.
Raging Bull (1980)
One of the best films ever, and arguably Robert De Niro's best role personally, his Oscar winning role as real life boxer Jake La Motta was one of the most powerful, memorable and engrossing performances in the history of the cinema. The film follows La Motta through most of his life, and focuses on his self destructive temper and tendencies, which make him such a formidable boxer but make him incredibly difficult to love or live with. De Niro plays the short tempered, internally torn man who is at times charming and others a monster, to near perfection. He is down right scary at times, and uncontrollable rage fits him like a glove. One of De Niro's best movies and certainly a powerful performance.
Certainly known for gangster and mob movies, De Niro is at his mafia boss best, as 'Ace' who is a casino mobster that is best friends with another mobster, played by Joe Pesci. Complications arise between the two however, that of course involve money, women and power, and De Niro excels as usual. This is a long film, but every second is entertaining and well worth the time. What he has always been fantastic at, is being able to portray a character at their absolute best and their horrible worst, while always maintaining the characters integrity and personality, and he continues that trend with 'Casino.'
If a list of the finest gangster movies ever was created, 'Goodfellas' would sit near the top, and largely due to the fine performance of Robert De Niro, once more. While our antagonist is played by Ray Liotta, and the show might be stolen by the maniacal Joe Pesci, but there is no doubt that Robert is at his strong and steady best during 'Goodfellas.' He plays the balanced member of a trio of mobsters who are trying to work their way to the top of the totem poll. We watch them move through the trials and tribulations of their 'profession' and De Niro does a wonderful job providing humor and subtlety to an otherwise in your face film, widely considered one of the best movies ever made.
The Deer Hunter (1978)
An older movie, but definitely one of the best Robert De Niro movies of all time, is 'The Deer Hunter' in which he plays alongside Christopher Walken as surviving prisoners of war during Vietnam. The film portrays their time at the camp in brutal realism and hard hitting fashion, but it goes on to really show us the effects of the war on them after they return home. Here De Niro plays the strong silent type, who is a hero that doesn't want to be. His finest moment is perhaps at the famous 'Russian Roulette' table where his war cry, in the face of death is one of my favorite scenes ever in cinema.
The Untouchables (1987)
Starring alongside Kevin Costner and Sean Connery, here De Niro plays the legendary Al Capone in a film about Elliot Ness and his attempts to catch the famous mob boss. De Niro doesn't get as much screen time as he may in other films, but his portrayal of Capone is absolutely fantastic, and steals the show. He is truly a maniac, but a stylish one as well and his most memorable moment in this one might be the famous round table scene where he unleashes the fury of a baseball bat on a helpless follower. Insane stuff and another one of De Niro's best.
While he did star with Al Pacino in Godfather Part 2, they never actually appeared on screen together, and it wasn't until Michael Mann's 'Heat' that the two legends finally did. Showing us two sides of the law, and the good and bad of both, De Niro played a criminal who is not all bad, who is chased by Pacino, as a troubled cop. One of my favorite movies ever, the film shows us both sides of a common tale, and makes us care for both the hero and the villain. De Niro is a big part of this as he has mastered the ability of playing a bad guy that has a good side throughout his career. A flawless movie!
Cape Fear (1991)
Now this is actually one of his lesser known roles, but many argue that it is his finest. De Niro plays Max Cady, a convicted rapist who is released after a long sentence and begins to stalk the family of the lawyer who was able to convict him. We've seen De Niro do anger and crazy before, but nothing compares to this absolutely chilling and incredibly entertaining performance as a complete nutcase. Don't miss this film if you are a fan of true suspense. De Niro got an Oscar nomination for the role, and so did Juliette Lewis who stars as the wife of the lawyer (Nick Nolte).
Taxi Driver (1976)
Yet another Martin Scorsese film (most of the films on this list are his, making him and De Niro easily one of the best actor-director combinations ever!), here we have Rob playing a taxi driver who happens to be a Vietnam veteran who is a little unstable inside. The slums of New York and the evil people he sees around him lead him to finally crack, but fortunately he uses his outburst for good as he attempts to help a young prostitute, played controversially by a teenage Jodie Foster. The film sparked one of De Niro's most famous quotes ever, the immortal "You talkin' to me.....?" You have got to check this one out, if you haven't already seen it!