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Best Robert De Niro movies

  • Best Robert De Niro movies

    Robert De Niro may be the quintessential American movie star—one known for his powerfully evocative acting. De Niro’s performances across different film genres prove him to be a virtuoso actor. He’s played iconic American gangsters like Al Capone and Vito Corleone, embodying the criminal persona as a figure of power and corruption with an undeniable allure.

    De Niro’s characters often hold such dynamic tension: As Max Cady in “Cape Fear,” De Niro audiences found him both chilling and captivating. As the small-town steelworker turned soldier in “The Deer Hunter,” he captured extremes of both courage and dread. His characters often hold a strong sense of authentic humanity even in roles where he’s an “average” man—as a football-obsessed father in “Silver Linings Playbook,” or as a married man falling for Meryl Streep in the romance “Falling in Love.”

    De Niro is famous for his immersive, intensive acting style. He studied with famed acting teachers Stella Adler and Lee Strasberg, honing the “method,” where an actor manifests the character in totality. De Niro’s preparation for roles is renowned, often altering his body through gaining and losing weight—and even once changing his teeth. He masters languages and talents of his characters, such as the Sicilian dialect of Corleone, the skills of the saxophone player in “New York, New York,” and the methods of actual bounty hunters for “Midnight Run.”

    De Niro received the Cecil B. DeMille Award for Lifetime Achievement at the 2011 Golden Globes. He’s also received seven Academy Award nominations and won both a Best Supporting Actor Oscar for “The Godfather: Part II” and a Best Actor Oscar for “Raging Bull.” He frequently collaborates with director Martin Scorsese; they worked together on nine films, creating such iconic characters as “Taxi Driver’s” unhinged Travis Bickle and the gangster Jimmy in “Goodfellas.”

    To find out which of De Niro's films stand out among the rest, Stacker found the top 50 Robert De Niro movies based on IMDb user ratings. Feature films and TV movies in which he had an acting role were considered. Cameo appearances, voiceover roles in documentaries, and films that have not yet been released to the public were not considered. Among the top 50, De Niro frequently represents the spirit of the American gangster, but as this list shows, he also shines in smaller roles and comedic turns, proving his vast range.

    You may also like: Best and worst Leonardo DiCaprio movies

  • #50. Falling in Love (1984)

    Directed by Ulu Grosbard

    - IMDb user rating: 6.5
    - Votes: 11,528
    - Metascore: data not available
    - Runtime: 106 min

    De Niro stars opposite Meryl Streep in this romance about two married strangers whose packages get mixed up while Christmas shopping. Though the affair destroys both marriages, the two stars can’t deny they’ve fallen in love. De Niro’s turn as a romantic leading man offers a swoon-worthy departure from his usual gangster type.

  • #49. Flawless (1999)

    Directed by Joel Schumacher

    - IMDb user rating: 6.5
    - Votes: 16,635
    - Metascore: 50
    - Runtime: 112 min

    Critics were skeptical of the story, finding the friendship between a conservative police officer (De Niro) and exuberant drag queen (Philip Seymour Hoffman) too maudlin and melodramatic. However, both veteran actors turn in stellar performances, and the film aims to display and investigate ideas around masculinity with the De Niro persona as a weak (the character suffers a stroke) but conventional man’s man.

  • #48. Killer Elite (2011)

    Directed by Gary McKendry

    - IMDb user rating: 6.5
    - Votes: 118,516
    - Metascore: 44
    - Runtime: 116 min

    As the co-star in this Jason Statham action vehicle, De Niro plays Hunter, a lifelong mercenary pulled back into a tangle of murder and its necessary getaways. Hunter is the wizened mentor to the younger agent, and like most heroes in such thrillers, he finds it hard to escape a life of special ops and violence. De Niro makes a spry actioner despite playing the elder operative.

  • #47. Guilty by Suspicion (1991)

    Directed by Irwin Winkler

    - IMDb user rating: 6.6
    - Votes: 7,229
    - Metascore: 64
    - Runtime: 105 min

    This drama depicts the hearings of the House Un-American Activities Committee during McCarthyism and the “Red Scare” of the 1950s. De Niro plays a blacklisted Hollywood film director who must name his friends and colleagues or suffer the consequences. De Niro brings a sense of righteousness to the role of a man faced with doing the right thing under pressure.

  • #46. Hands of Stone (2016)

    Directed by Jonathan Jakubowicz

    - IMDb user rating: 6.6
    - Votes: 13,133
    - Metascore: 54
    - Runtime: 111 min

    De Niro returns to the boxing movie genre in this true story of Roberto Durán, a Panamanian boxer who had a tense rivalry with American boxer Sugar Ray Leonard. De Niro throws his all into his portrayal of real-life boxing trainer Ray Arcel, completely transforming his body to play the man who trained champions throughout his long career.

  • #45. Joy (2015)

    Directed by David O. Russell

    - IMDb user rating: 6.6
    - Votes: 119,420
    - Metascore: 56
    - Runtime: 124 min

    “Joy” brings together the actors and director of “Silver Linings Playbook,” but without the same captivating sublimity of the previous hit. David O. Russell directs De Niro again, this time as the father of a mop inventor (Jennifer Lawrence) with Bradley Cooper co-starring as the executive who gives her a chance. De Niro brings his signature dash to his role as a divorcee dad still looking to find love.

  • #44. Last Vegas (2013)

    Directed by Jon Turteltaub

    - IMDb user rating: 6.6
    - Votes: 122,283
    - Metascore: 48
    - Runtime: 105 min

    De Niro leans into his role as a cranky widower on a jaunt to Vegas with his childhood pals, still friends as senior citizens. The stellar ensemble also stars powerhouses Kevin Kline, Michael Douglas, and Morgan Freeman as men in need of some comedic adventure. Old age gags give the romp a presentation of confident, elderly masculinity.

  • #43. Machete (2010)

    Directed by Ethan Maniquis, Robert Rodriguez

    - IMDb user rating: 6.6
    - Votes: 183,581
    - Metascore: 60
    - Runtime: 105 min

    Beloved character actor Danny Trejo gets his own vehicle in this violent exploitation film that uses a comedic, campy, B-movie film style. De Niro plays a corrupt, racist politician who serves as a worthy foil to Trejo’s iconic heroism.

  • #42. New York, New York (1977)

    Directed by Martin Scorsese

    - IMDb user rating: 6.7
    - Votes: 16,449
    - Metascore: 62
    - Runtime: 155 min

    In his third collaboration with director Martin Scorsese, De Niro stars as a saxophone player who falls in love with a nightclub singer (Liza Minnelli) in 1945 in the Big Apple. The film was a box office disappointment that failed to live up to the hype of “Taxi Driver,” released the year before. Nonetheless, De Niro’s performance is sure-footed and charming. He learned to play the sax for the role.

  • #41. Marvin's Room (1996)

    Directed by Jerry Zaks

    - IMDb user rating: 6.7
    - Votes: 23,822
    - Metascore: 68
    - Runtime: 98 min

    De Niro steals his scenes in a small role alongside star actresses Diane Keaton and Meryl Streep as sisters with an ailing father. Adapted from a stage play, “Marvin’s Room” is filled with scenery-chewing emotional scenes between the fighting sisters and Leonardo DiCaprio as Streep’s mentally ill son. As the doctor who diagnoses a devastating illness, De Niro offers charm and humanity in a role that departs from his gangster persona.

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