Monument of American cinema, Robert De Niro, who will celebrate his 80th birthday on August 17, 2023, has a dizzying filmography. Here is the list of his 10 best films according to the editorial staff.
He is one of the greatest actors in American cinema. Actor Robert de Niro has an impressive filmography. CNEWS, however, challenged itself to extract a (subjective) list of the 10 best films of his career.
Mean Streets (1973)
The film marks the first collaboration between the actor and Martin Scorsese. Robert De Niro shares the poster with Harvey Keitel in this feature film where they respectively play Charlie and Johnny Boy, two young mobsters from the district of Little Italy, in New York, who try to integrate the local mafia. The character played by the actor never ceases to annoy his friend, and constantly puts himself in danger by borrowing money from his employers, failing to repay them, and openly mocking them. A story that inevitably ends in a bloodbath.
Still with Martin Scorsese behind the camera, Robert De Niro brilliantly plays Sam “Ace” Rothstein, a gangster who, with the help of his childhood friend Nick Santoro, runs the hotel-casino Tangiers with an iron fist. , one of the hottest establishments in Las Vegas. But his meeting with the queen of the scam, Ginger McKenna, as seductive as he is diabolical, will lead him straight to his downfall. Inspired by the true story of a mafioso named Frank Rosenthal, “Casino” remains, despite certain flaws, one of the sure values of the actor’s filmography.
The first face-to-face between Robert De Niro and Al Pacino keeps all its promises in this film masterfully directed by Michael Mann (they both played in “The Godfather II”, but without sharing a scene , note). The actor plays Neil McCauley, the charismatic leader of a group of professional robbers chased by Inspector Vincent Hanna after the attack on an armored van that went wrong. Also starring Val Kilmer, Jon Voight, and Tom Sizemore in the credits, “Heat” has established itself as a reference of the genre.
Once Upon a Time in America (1984)
Last film by director Sergio Leone, “Once upon a time in America” remained stuck for a long time in a truncated version which made it difficult to understand it generally before a “Director’s cut” released in 1994 (of 221 minutes, anyway) came restore its status as a major work of the 7th art. The story follows the friendship between two mobsters, Max and Noodles, through the years. From petty dealings in the New York ghetto in the 1920s to the late 1960s, viewers are transported into this absolutely epic tale.
The Godfather – Part 2 (1974)
Impossible not to put “The Godfather” in this list. Francis Ford Coppola’s trilogy is a cinematic monument. And in the second part produced in 1974, Robert De Niro confirms his status as a rising star in Hollywood by playing Vito Corleone – the character of Marlon Brando in the first opus – during his young years. The performance of the actor is such that he will win the Oscar for best actor in a supporting role the following year.
The Irishman (2019)
Mocked for its length (209 minutes), “The Irishman” once again brought together Robert De Niro with director Martin Scorsese. But also with Joe Pesci, Al Pacino, or even Harvey Keitel to give him the answer. The actor delivers one of his best interpretations in this dark film which makes use of amazing special effects to rejuvenate its performers. It tracks the decades-long journey of Frank Sheeran, his character, from humble beginnings as a truck driver to hitman. “The Irishman” offers above all a fascinating dive into the heart of the mafia by revealing its workings, its internal wars, and its links with the world of politics.
Journey to the End of Hell (1978)
Few films about the Vietnam War, and its impact on those who survived, are as intense as “Journey to the End of Hell.” This jewel signed by Michael Cimino follows the way in which this conflict will disrupt the lives of the inhabitants of a small industrial town in Pennsylvania. If the film has since been criticized for its way of treating the Vietnamese (but also for its famous scenes of Russian roulette), it is nonetheless a major work of American cinema which was rewarded with the Oscar for best movie in 1979.
Raging Bull (1980)
Directed by Martin Scorsese, “Raging Bull” will allow Robert De Niro to win the Oscar for best actor for this striking performance in the skin of Jake LaMotta for which he was forced to modify his body in an astonishing way. The actor impresses in his way of embodying the one who was nicknamed the “Bronx Bull”, managing to restore all the rage that inhabited this former champion on and outside the rings.
Martin Scorsese, still him, signs perhaps with “Les Affranchis” the greatest film on the mafia of all time. Ray Liotta plays Henry Hill, a man living in Brooklyn in the 1950s who always dreamed of becoming a gangster. What he manages to do after earning the respect of the local godfather, Paul Cicero, by refusing to swing his accomplices. Robert De Niro plays the character of Jimmy Conway, a mobster who will become his mentor, while Joe Pesci is Tommy DeVito, an unpredictable, dangerous, and impulsive man.
Taxi Driver (1976)
“You’re talking to me ?”. This replica of Travis Bickle, the character played by Robert De Niro in “Taxi Driver”, has become cult to the point of crossing generations until today. The performance of the actor in the skin of this Vietnam War veteran turned taxi driver commands respect. Most often driving at night, he is in constant contact with the violence that rages in the streets. Which doesn’t really fit with visibly failing mental health. When the opportunity arises to free a young prostitute from her pimps, Travis doesn’t hesitate for a second. The film is directed by… Martin Scorsese, whose work was awarded the Palme d’Or at the 1976 Cannes Film Festival.
BONUS: BRAZIL (1985)
Directed by Terry Gilliam in 1985, “Brazil” is a dystopian film in which Robert De Niro plays one of the secondary roles, that of Harry Tuttle, a dissident plumber-heater who comes to lend a hand to the main characters, Sam Lowry (played by Jonathan Pryce), as the latter struggles in a bureaucratic and totalitarian world. A performance as unexpected as it is delightful in this cinematographic gem.
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Robert De Niro: Goodfellas, Casino, Heat… here is the list of his 10 best films