A gangster movie that doesn’t take itself too seriously. De Niro and Hoffman make a convincing pair of volatile rivals, and the action sequences are entertaining and well-choreographed. While it’s not as good as Heat, this acclaimed film still offers plenty to enjoy. It’s a pleasure to see De Niro and Pacino working together again after their memorable pairing in 1995’s Heat.
1. Taxi Driver
De Niro took a huge step away from his suave mob characters in Taxi Driver, as he plays a psychotic taxi driver with a general misanthropy for the world. He famously prepared for the role by actually driving a cab in New York City.
Directed by Martin Scorsese, the film swept up multiple awards, including best picture at the Oscars, and has been credited with influencing contemporary films on violence. It also helped to kickstart De Niro’s lengthy list of collaborations with the director.
The harrowing true story of US Navy Master Diver Leslie William ‘Billy’ Sunday is brought to life by De Niro, who has earned praise for his performance. The movie has been criticised for the way it portrays racism, though, and continues to divide audiences.
2. Raging Bull
While not the best De Niro movie, this 1995 mafia drama packs a serious punch. In addition to a powerful script, the solar movie also stars a stellar cast, including Joe Pesci and Robert Loggia. Anyone with an interest in the mob should watch this movie.
It took De Niro six years to bring this passion project to the screen, and it was well worth the wait. This harrowing tale of friendship, rivalry and the profound scars of war showcases the true talent of this iconic actor.
This offbeat thriller combines elements of film noir, monster horror and psychological thriller in one wildly compelling package. De Niro’s performance as a psychopath is disturbingly realistic and unforgettable. It’s a testament to his acting range that he can go from lovable grandpa to jaw-dropping mafia member with ease.
3. The Godfather: Part II
The sequel to The Godfather expands on and deepens the themes established in its predecessor. Francis Ford Coppola brilliantly focuses on both the rise of Michael Corleone and his father Vito’s brutal induction into Mafia life in 1900s Sicily and New York.
De Niro, who had tested for Sonny in the original film but turned down the role, is a revelation here as he ruthlessly consolidates power. He also demonstrates a remarkable range as his character ebbs and flows between loving grandfather to jaw-dropping mafia boss.
It’s a movie that any fan of De Niro or Martin Scorsese owes to themselves to watch, and one that cements the partnership as a cinematic powerhouse. In 1995’s Casino, they paired again to deliver another gangster classic.
4. The Untouchables
Following the success of Mean Streets, De Niro teamed up with director Martin Scorsese for the first of many films together. This psychological thriller follows a former mobster trying to take revenge on his ex-lawyer and maintains a sustained sense of tension throughout.
Rupert Pupkin is a schizophrenic comedian who is obsessed with another comedian played by Jerry Lewis. The film is a satire of society’s explicit obsession with celebrity and was clearly an influence on Joker.
This film combines elements of film noir, horror and psychological thriller, and boasts top performances from De Niro and Mickey Rourke. It is also a compelling true story and an excellent example of the power of acting. A must-see. It’s almost criminal that this movie isn’t in everyone’s collection. Especially since it was only De Niro’s second directorial effort.
5. Meet the Parents
De Niro’s range is well documented, and this gripping crime saga shows exactly why he earned the moniker “The King of Crime.” As part of an outstanding ensemble cast, his exceptional performance embodies a man trapped in his own shadows.
While many of the movies on this list revolve around criminal activities, this is one that focuses on something completely different. It tells the story of two doctors, Sigourney Weaver and Cillian Murphy, who attempt to uncover the secrets of the world’s most famous psychic.
In a movie that spans four decades, audiences witness an exuberant depiction of aspiration, treachery, and forgiveness. But that’s not the only reason why it stands out: De Niro’s performances are nothing short of jaw-dropping. He goes from lovable grandpa to mafia member with ease. This is a must-see for any fan of the actor.