10. Cape Fear
One of many collaborations with legendary director Martin Scorsese, this remake of the 1962 noir classic features De Niro as ex-con Max Cady, originally played by Robert Mitchum, whom De Niro bears a passing resemblance to. It earned De Niro one of his six Oscar nominations.
9. Meet the Parents
The late 90s had De Niro playing that he could play against-type comic roles. While it was his role in Analyze This that got him started playing roles in this vein, it was his portrayal of an over-protective dad and Ben Stiller’s prospective father-in-law that cemented the idea that De Niro could play comedy.
This crime thriller had De Niro as a professional thief who matched wits with a cop played by fellow screen luminary Al Pacino, marking the first time they had shared scenes together in a film.
7. The Mission
This 1986 British production by director Roland Joffé has de Niro playing a mercenary and slaver in South America who eventually finds his calling and redemption by joining a group of catholic priests and missionaries in their mission to civilize and convert the native tribes.
6. The Untouchables
While De Niro is great at portraying subtle and complex characters, if you give him scenery to chew, he will make a ten course meal out of it. Here, he dines heartily on playing Al Capone and still manages to intimidate all the same.
Another collaboration with Scorsese, De Niro doesn’t play the lead role, but he still commands attention as a wise guy out to protect the mob and the Mafia way.
4. The Deer Hunter
Considered one of the definitive films on the Vietnam War, De Niro depicts a man from a tight-knit community who will stop at nothing to bring his friend home from the war.
3. Raging Bull
The film that won De Niro the Oscar for Best Actor, it’s also the film that gave De Niro the occasion to prepare for the role in one of the most noted cases of method acting ever, gaining 70 pounds to play the bloated boxer Jake LaMotta in retirement.
2. Taxi Driver
Arguably De Niro’s most iconic role, his depiction of troubled Vietnam vet Travis Bickle and the film in general have continued to provoke controversy in the over three decades since its release. On the bright side, at least it proved that people who have mohawks are disreputable.
De Niro won his first Oscar for his role as a young Vito Corleone, speaking virtually no English, making him the first actor to win an Oscar for a role primarily acted in a foreign language.
The years have proven that De Niro can make a bad movie, but it’s hard for him to make a movie where he’s not at least interesting in it. That’s reason enough to hope that he continues making movies for years to come.