The Very Best Of – Robert De Niro

Robert De Niro

Considered by many as the greatest actors of all time, Robert De Niro has had an illustrious career that spanned six decades and earned him seven Academy Award nominations and two wins. Few actors possess such commitment to their craft and throughout his career De Niro very much defined what method-acting was all about. With Martin Scorsese, De Niro had one of the greatest and most fruitful actor/ director collaborations and the duo collaborated to make some of the most influential and memorable films to grace the silver screen. De Niro has also worked with great directors such as Francis Ford Coppola, Sergio Leone, Quentin Tarantino, Michael Mann, here are what I believe to be his finest performances.

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Honorable Mentions:

Neil MacAuley, Heat (1995)
Michael Vronsky, The Deer Hunter (1978)
Pat Sr, Silver Linings Playbook (2012)

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5. Sam ‘Ace’ Rothstein, Casino (1995)

De Niro- Casino

There are many parallels between GoodFellas and Casino, Joe Pesci plays basically the same guy in both movies, both are about the gangster genre, but ultimately are two very different films. While Goodfellas is the superior film, Casino to is a great one in it’s own right. In Casino De Niro plays Sam ‘The Ace’ Rothstein, a bookmaking wizard wh is caught is a web of greed, deception, money, power, and murder involving his best fiend Nicky Santoro (Joe Pesci) and wife Ginger McKenna (Sharon Stone). De Niro delivers a great performance in this timelesss gangster genre classic.

4. Rupert Pumpkin, King of Comedy (1982)

Robert De Niro - King of Comedy

One of the most underrated films of Martin Scorsese’s iconic filmography, King of Comedy is one of the greatest dark-comdies ever made. The film which is considered to this day to b ahead of it’s time features Robert De Niro in a funny and sinister performance as comedian Rupert Pumpkin, a man who will do anything to be famous and respected. The film is incredibly surreal in some parts, funny and devastating, an underrated classic.

3. Vito Corleone, The Godfather Part II (1974)

Robert De Niro as Vito Corleone in The Godfather Part 2

Having missed out on the role of Michael Corleone in The Godfather Part I, Robert De Niro made ammends by getting the role of Michael Corleone in the sequel. De Niro had the tough job of portraying a youthful, yet maturing version of a character Marlon Brando made so iconic just two years previously. De Niro did just that and provided a compelling and calculated performance that drew many parallels to Brando’s performance. De Niro went on to win an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his performance.

2. Travis Bickle, Taxi Driver (1976)

Robert De Niro - Taxi Driver

The film that established Martin Scorsese as one of the greatest filmmakers of his generation, Taxi Driver is a brooding character piece and a wonderfully dark exploration of what loneliness does to a man. Scorsese’s direction is immaculate but it’s Robert De Niro’s tour-de-dorce performance on which this movie runs. There is so much magnetism to De Niro’s dark and complex portrayal of Travis Bickle that makes this movie such a special experience. The monolgue in which De Niro talks to himself ranks as one of the most famous cinematic moments.

1. Jake LaMotta, Raging Bull (1980)

Still from Raging Bull, 1980

Very rarely does one get to see a performance as sensational as Robert De Niro’s performance in Raging Bull. It’s an electrifying and sensational turn and arguably the best one of De Niro’s long, illustrious career. Capturing the persona of boxer Jake LaMotta was never no easy thing  but with his performance De Niro not only captures animalistic and volatile persona of LaMotta but makes him a uniquely symathetic human being as well. De Niro absolutely immersed into the role of LaMotta is unrecognizable and his commitement to the role deserves a special praise alltogether. Deservedly so, De Niro went on to win the Academy Award for Best Actor in 1981.

-Khalid Rafi

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