Top 10 Films – Robert De Niro

Robert - King of

With comedy legend Jerry Lewis, The King of Comedy allowed De Niro to unleash his comedic genius

List compiled by Eddie on 9/10/2014

While it may be telling and somewhat sad that the latest film on this list was released nearly 20 years ago, it’s also telling that many of the films listed here below are films regarded by many as some of the best ever made, not only in their respective genres but in film history as a whole. The thread that binds them is Robert “Bob” De Niro.

De Niro was once not only one of if not the most respected actors in the industry but a box office draw for those cinema patrons wanting bang for their buck. From his first real publically noted performance in the Godfather Part 2 in 1974 through to the mid 1990’s, De Niro produced some of the most fearsome, energetic and memorable performances in motion picture history and established himself as a benchmark actor for all those following suite.

A working collaboration with famed director Martin Scorsese is a major factor behind the success of De Niro and that is duly noted with many of the below films apart of their amazing partnership. One almost hopes that Scorsese will once more call up his old friend and allow him to deliver another performance we all know he is capable of instead of acting for money that he has become known for now. De Niro the actor and we the audience both equally deserve to see the talent he has displayed once more.

As with all actor Top 10’s here on J and E these choices are not based on performance alone but the picture as a whole and small cameo roles have been left out (sorry Brazil).

Happy reading and happy watching!

Robert - Top

While De Niro’s screen time is somewhat limited, he is a major player in the ambitious epic Once Upon a Time in America

       10. Once Upon a Time in America (1984)

De Niro plays – David “Noodles” Aaronson

An ambitions, decade spanning drama that saw Western master Sergio Leone make a splash in the modern era, America is a uniquely affecting tale with a huge array of memorable performances and scenes and one of the very best crime films ever made.

Directed by Martin Scorsese? – No

  1. The Deer Hunter (1978)

De Niro plays – Michael

Winner of 5 Oscars, including Best Film and Director, Michael Cimino’s hard to watch yet utterly compelling Vietnam tale overcomes an overbearing opening act to portray some of the most realistic and tense war infused scenes ever committed to screen. Filled with outstanding acting turns, De Niro is only outmatched by Christopher Walkens Oscar winning support turn.

Directed by Martin Scorsese? – No

  1. A Bronx Tale (1993)

De Niro plays – Lorenzo

While De Niro’s role in this criminally under-seen coming of age tale may be small a little known fact was that De Niro made his directing debut with this assured and well-constructed movie. Filled with outstanding dialogue, great acting turns and a rocking soundtrack, A Bronx Tale is well worth tracking down as mentioned previously in our underrated list.

Directed by Martin Scorsese? – No

  1. The King of Comedy (1982)

De Niro plays – Rupert Pupkin

A movie ahead of its time, a masterful and different lead turn from De Niro and a stunning against type directional turn from Martin Scorsese combine to classic effect in this originally misunderstood yet now revered comedy classic that has a lot to say about celebrities, loneliness and mental issues and a lot of hearty laughs. A film you’d imagine all participants think back fondly upon. De Niro’s Rupert Pupkin is one of cinemas most memorable creations.

Directed by Martin Scorsese? – Yes

  1. The Godfather: Part 2 (1974)

De Niro plays – Vito Corleone

While Mean Streets introduced the movie world to De Niro, this is the film that De Niro introduced himself to the world with in a turn that helped make The Godfather 2 the winning sequel it was. A small but significant role, De Niro was a piece of the puzzle that combined to create one of if not the best sequels of all time.

Directed by Martin Scorsese? – No

Robert - middle

In his most famous role outside of Taxi Driver, De Niro shines as tortured boxer Jake La Motta

  1. Raging Bull (1980)

De Niro plays – Jake La Motta

Not much else can be said about De Niro’s turn as real life boxing figure Jake La Motta. There’s been countless stories of his commitment to the role, the weight loss the weight gain and the learning of the art of boxing just some of the well-known aspects. Scorsese directs the picture with a rarely seen energy and style that throws the viewer into and out of the ring allowing them to feel every knockout, every connected punch and feel every drop of sweat that fly’s from the brow. A tour de force on all accounts.

Directed by Martin Scorsese? – Yes

  1. Taxi Driver (1976)

De Niro plays – Travis Bickle

A cinema figure that has transcended into pop culture, the film in which De Niro’s Travis Bickle inhabits is a powerful, uncompromising gut punch of a movie that heralded in one of the great acting/director partnerships in history between Scorsese and De Niro that may have started with Mean Streets but truly arrived with this stunning blood soaked tale.

Directed by Martin Scorsese – Yes

  1. Goodfellas (1990)

De Niro plays – James Conway

Regarded by many as one of if not the best movie of all, Goodfellas is a frighteningly well-made movie that manages to be anyone of funny, moving, scary and thrilling all at one time. A classic example of the crime genre and moviemaking as a whole, if by chance you have not yet seen Goodfellas it should go straight to the top of your watch list.

Directed by Martin Scorsese? – Yes

  1. Heat (1995)

De Niro plays – Neil McCauley

A searing, taut crime thriller from the master of the genre Michael Mann, Heat is a solidified classic tale that marked the first time heavyweights Al Pacino and De Niro shared the screen together even be it that the only real interaction they had was in the amazing dinner set up. A rip roaring event picture filled with smart wording, infamous shoot outs and acting highlights. Heat is movie making at its most purely entertaining.

Directed by Martin Scorsese? – No

  1. Casino (1995)

De Niro plays – Sam “Ace” Rothstein

A vice like Joe Pesci, Sharon Stone on career best form, De Niro at his menacing best, Scorsese at his most ambitious and movie making at it’s most indulgent yet gratifying, this is Casino. A movie unlike anything else before or since, from its voice over laden opening act through to its blood filled finale, Casino is a movie misunderstood by many but for those that embrace it, it’s cinematic glories are there for the taking.

Directed by Martin Scorsese? – Yes

Robert - End

Wiseguys – Joe Pesci and De Niro create a cinema duo for the ages in Casino

Honourable mentions – Stardust (2007), Mean Streets (1973), Sleepers (1996), Analyze This (1999), Cape Fear (1991), Meet the Parents (2000)

How does this list stack up to your Robert De Niro favourites? Are you a little miffed that Goodfellas isn’t number one? Are you talking to me? Or have I forgotten a classic? Let us know in the comments below!

For other J and E actor Top Tens see below –

Tom Hanks

Brad Pitt

Bruce Willis

50 responses to “Top 10 Films – Robert De Niro

  1. Solid choices with ‘Deer Hunter’ and ‘Bronx Tale’. ‘Heat’ too, such a bad-ass film! My list would definitely have ‘Ronin’ in there somewhere though, as well as ‘Wag the Dog’ and ‘Cape Fear’ (though I still love the Robert Mitchum version too). Also, though it wouldn’t make the ‘Top Ten’, I have a soft spot in my heart for ‘Mad Dog & Glory’. I love his, Bill Murray’s and Uma’s chemistry together. Good little story.

    • I’ll have to see Mad Dog mate. Ronin is a great little action flick – how about that car chase! I do like how De Niro is equally at home as a psycho as he is in comedy.

  2. It bums me out that his work hasn’t matched up in the last 15 years or so with few exceptions but his good stuff is SO GOOD.

    I agree 100% with your list & for my extra picks or honorable mentions I choose Midnight Run(a favorite for sure), Backdraft[don’t laugh!] because his role is kind of short but sweet & I’m not sure if that movie is considered a throwaway but every time I’ve seen it on cable I’ve enjoyed the heck out of it. And for two romanticish drama movies for some reason I’ve always loved Falling in Love and Stanley & Iris and I end up watching those about every year or two.

    I use to have a bobbyd screename(lame! over 15 years ago) and belong to a bobbymilk movie community on livejournal way back when, so lame!

    • Nothing lame about abit of love for the Bob De Niro! Backdraft is a great little flick, Jordan and I recently had the pleasure if you can call it that of going to the Backdraft attraction at the Osaka Universal Theme Park – that was a strange experience.

      Midnight Run is a neat film also, one of the better ones of it’s types from the 80.

  3. Another incredible list Eddie! When you see it written down the sheer volume of De Niro’s portfolio is truly amazing and it’s shame we haven’t seen anything close to the best of him in recent years. He just looks really bored these days.


  4. Top is too 90’s heavy, and my personal list would have “Taxi Driver” and “Godfather 2” in the top spots(coin flip for #1?). Only “A Bronx Tale” seems out of place, and I’m curious as to why “Casino” is misunderstood. But, overall, nice job Eddie! ML

    • I would say Casino is misunderstood mate by those that rate it somewhat lowly compared to Goodfellas ect. I think it’s very much of the same ilk and surprises me that some would love Goodfellas and hate Casino? Really though his top 5 could all almost be a number 1, there a great bunch.

  5. I was half expecting to see Goodfellas as #1, but I’m glad you have Casino instead, he was great in that movie. A couple other roles I loved him in were Awakenings and Flawless. He’s done so many movies it’s hard to even remember them all. This is a pretty solid list of his best though 🙂

  6. Who could refute your great list other than to suggest “that one should have been number one and not 7”. I find his best role is Taxi Driver followed by his amazing performance in ‘Cape Fear’. Good job, Eddie!

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  18. Ah, De Niro – a talented actor for sure, and with so many great films, so awesome list. I wish he would do some solid films again, not these parodies and stupid comedies 😦

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  20. He is the greatest. No other actor has given so many memorable performances. His body of work is incredible. No actor even comes close.
    1- 8 films in imdb top 250. Last one being ” The deer hunter” ranked 155. In all the 8 fims he is the lead or main supporting actor.
    2- 5 films in AFI 100 greatest movies of all time. Maximum among all the actors.
    3- Maximum no of films in Empire magazine 500 greatest movies of all time list. 4 in top 20 and 8 in top 100.
    Widely revered actors like Tom hanks/Denzel Washington are dwarfs infront of this giant.

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  24. The Deerhunter/Taxi Driver are the two best films ever made! And De Niro was born to play both those roles!
    The initial Russian Roulette scene in The Deerhunter is probably the best acting performance by anybody ever!
    Loved him in Heat, Raging Bull etc. etc. etc.
    What happened (You forgot Fearless Leader)!

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