It’s impossible to keep track of all the legendary roles Robert De Niro has played in the films that bear his name. Few actors have had as long a run in Hollywood as he has, and even fewer have played so many famous roles that it’s difficult to narrow down their filmography to just ten of their most memorable.
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As a result, we believe we have a good handle on Robert De Niro’s best work, and we’ve gone through the best films he’s been in to see how much he contributed to their success. Even while not everyone will agree with the results, it’s impossible to argue against any of the 10 listed below.
10. Cape Fear (1991)
There is no doubt that Robert De Niro can play the bad guy, but it is uncommon to see him portray a character as insane as Max Cady in Cape Fear. Angry at his lawyer for burying evidence that would have lowered his sentence, Cady is on a mission to exact retribution. At this point, Cady is well-versed in the law and has an insatiable desire for blood.
Cape Fear is a remake, but Martin Scorsese’s flair and Robert De Niro’s terrifying transformation make it a better film. Additionally, De Niro paid a doctor to grind down his teeth and worked out till his body fat percentage was supposedly just 4 percent. Even while De Niro delivered a strong performance, it was his physical alteration that solidified his role as a monster intent on vengeance.
9. Heat (1995)
In Heat, Robert De Niro takes on the role of real-life criminal Neil McCauley, who is pitted against Al Pacino’s Vincent Hanna in a game of cat and mouse fame. Despite the fact that they had been in The Godfather: Part II before, this was the first time they appeared in the same scene as each other.
The chemistry between Robert De Niro and Al Pacino is what really makes Heat stand out. Many times since, the film industry has made valiant attempts to rekindle the enchantment that was Righteous Kill and the impending Netflix original The Irishman. Even if Heat isn’t the best Robert De Niro-Pacino film on our list, it’s still a worthy contender for a place in our top 10.
8. The Untouchables (1987)
De Niro stars in a star-studded cast in The Untouchables as one of the greatest real-life mobster of all time. During Prohibition, Kevin Costner portrays Eliot Ness, the man tasked with bringing down the infamous Al Capone.
Although he didn’t win an Oscar for his performance, Robert De Niro nevertheless managed to stand out at such a star-studded occasion. That De Niro’s performance had such an impact on the final product is somewhat surprising, given that Bob Hoskins was originally slated to play Al Capone’s right hand man in the picture. Imagine how much better this movie would be if it starred Hoskins instead of De Niro.
7. The King Of Comedy (1982)
Rupert Pupkin, a want tobe celebrity-turned-stalker played by Robert De Niro, is a great fan of a television show. That’s about all you need to know before watching this film, which is fantastic for people who haven’t watched it yet and want to see it again. This year also brings the release of the film Joker, in which Robert De Niro apparently reveled in the writing and which appears to draw inspiration from The King of Comedy.
Robert De Niro’s dedication to character correctness, even if it meant putting his own life at jeopardy, paid off in the long run. One of De Niro’s long-time stalkers helped him prepare for the role by following him about and having a chat with him. He went to great efforts to do this, but was it really necessary? Knowing that he did this just enhances this performance much further.
6. Casino (1995)
When a sports handicapper wins the “jackpot” in Casino, the mob hires him to oversee their mafia-owned casino in Las Vegas. As Sam “Ace” Rothstein, Robert De Niro’s character in Martin Scorsese’s just under three-hour gangster epic, he is given and taken a great deal by the task at hand.
If you compare it to Goodfellas, you might think it’s an inferior film, yet even a weaker cooperation between Scorsese and De Niro is a great film. De Niro is effervescent in every scene, whether he’s working with co-star Sharon Stone or Joe Pesci. Until they witness how bad things are for him in the second and third acts, a spectator could even wish to be him..
5. The Deer Hunter (1978)
The Deer Hunter is one of several excellent films that depict the intensity and consequences of the Vietnam War. Robert De Niro’s Mike and friends in America pre-war, then we are taken on a crazy adventure that is at the same time horrifying and heartbreaking.
Robert De Niro’s portrayal of a real person, in my opinion, makes this a moving film. It leaves a lasting impression on the viewer, which is why it won the Best Picture Oscar. The dramatic portrayal of Vietnam in this film reveals the actual terrors of war and their impact on those who served our country, despite the fact that some scenes were deemed false by war specialists.
4. The Godfather: Part II (1974)
The Godfather, Part II, is a foregone conclusion. It’s one of Robert De Niro’s most well-known films, and it has been voted one of the best and most influential by the American Film Institute in a number of categories. When Vito Corleone grows up, De Niro plays him as a young man in the mafia.
The Godfather: Part II received a mixed reception when it was released, but over time, many have come to regard it as one of the best films of all time. Because of Robert De Niro’s performance and Al Pacino’s fantastic performance, but critics at the time considered that his tale was too slow. As seen by everyone’s eagerness to see Pacino and De Niro in Heat years later, the critics ultimately came around.
3. Taxi Driver (1976)
Every new installment from here on out will be a Martin Scorsese and Robert De Niro classic, so take notice. Travis Bickle moves from a violent and slightly insane working-class man to a bona fide hero in Taxi Driver, one of the duo’s best works. No, he’s not an anti-hero, but is he a nasty guy who simply happened to be extremely fortunate? What does it matter?
In Taxi Driver, Robert De Niro delivers one of the most memorable lines in film history. “You talking to me?” has been used in countless films and television series over the years, so even children (who have no business viewing this movie) are familiar with it. If you’re a fan of De Niro, this film is a must-see, unless you’re not a fan of violence.
2. Goodfellas (1990)
One of Robert De Niro’s most memorable roles, Goodfellas is one of the greatest gangster movies ever made. I know it’s a little ironic because Henry is played by Ray Liotta, but as this list has demonstrated, De Niro is brilliant regardless of his role. He portrays gangster Jimmy, who teaches Henry the ins and outs of the criminal lifestyle in this film.
Robert De Niro’s star power was all Martin Scorsese needed to get the financing for Goodfellas, according to the film’s critics. Given that De Niro is a household name in mob movies, and that he delivered one of his best performances in any of them, it’s hardly unexpected. He’s a master at combining awful, cool, and scary all at once, which is a skill he has honed.
1. Raging Bull (1980)
One of Robert De Niro’s most memorable performances is in Raging Bull, one of many great films he has appeared in. As professional boxer-turned-comedian Jake LaMota, his performance is a magnificent depiction of someone you both love and despise. All at once, you feel sorry for, sympathize with, and even loathe him.
For Robert De Niro, it’s the perfect amalgamation of both his villainous and his psychotic personas. Jake LaMotta is, to be honest, being portrayed by this actor, but he does so in such a raw manner that it’s truly remarkable. Raging Bull is one of Robert De Niro’s greatest works, and he earned an Oscar for it.
The Day Robert De Niro Started Filming Joker, He Received a Pipe Bomb.
Yes, he was spurned for a picture, but I don’t know which one. Is there anything missing from this list? In the comments below, please share your thoughts on CinemaBlend’s coverage of the film and television industry.
Mick is a fan of both good television and reality TV. Star Wars, DC Comics, Marvel and pro wrestling are some of his favorite things to talk about. The fact that he’s been writing online for more than a decade hasn’t occurred to him.