Robert De Niro is undoubtedly one of the greatest actors of all time. A New Yorker by birth, he has Italian, Irish, German, Dutch, English and French ancestry. It’s no wonder he’s comfortable in pretty much any role – in Once Upon A Time In America he plays a Jewish gangster. He has won two Oscars to date (expect more) and been nominated for a further five. Sadly, his finest films are not available on Netflix but many excellent examples of his work are. Interestingly, the UK site has a slightly stronger line up than the USA site. This is our ranking of his top 5 movies on the USA site.
Angel Heart 1987
Although not very successful when it was released, like many Alan Parker films, Angel Heart has matured into a movie worthy of great respect. Over time, it has been the inspiration for many psychological horror/thrillers and is more thought provoking and disturbing than many of its genre. Robert De Niro plays Louis Cyphre (an appalling pun on Lucifer) against a young Mickey Rourke as Harry Angel (Angel? Lucifer? Got it yet?). While the young Rourke is good in this movie, De Niro steals the show. The trail of blood in this movie is well worth following.
Being Flynn 2012
We rank Being Flynn at 4 because the autobiographical father/son relationship theme is pretty hackneyed. That is not to say that this is a poor movie; the performances by De Niro and Paul Dano as the eponymous Flynns are excellent and, one of our favourites, Julianne Moore adds a pleasant depth to an otherwise unidimensional movie. This is everyday life with which anyone can associate The ending is a bit messy – not sure they got that right but a definite watch for all De Niro fans.
Meet the Parents 2000
Rare that an original ranks lower than a sequel but we have to do it! As an exploration of things to come, this is an excellent start. De Niro plays a deeply paranoid “father of the bride” meeting his future son in law. They are both hapless and this is the source of some truly fine slapstick which is rare in cinema comedy. Has a comedy ever won an Oscar? Not since Annie Hall in 1977. But, let’s face it, that’s not why you’re going to watch Meet the Parents. This is a foretaste of Meet the Fockers which we will definitely be watching.
The Score 2001
Old thief, young thief, the catalyst and the “last Job”. This is another from a tried and tested formula. What raises it is a great performance from Edward Norton (perhaps we should do special on him), a nice cameo from Marlon Brandon and an, as usual, immaculate delivery from Robert De Niro. The movie starts slowly to mirror De Niros characters life and accelerates to match the plot. Clever eh? The question is who is the baddie and who is the real baddie. As heist movies go, this is one of the best. (Here’s a throwaway – De Niro and Brando both played Vito Corleone in The Godfather).
Meet the Fockers 2004
Take a winning goofball formula, throw in a couple of extra goofballs and you reach a whole new level. Meet the Fockers is not about the story, it’s about the extraordinary performances of the cast. This is a world apart from typical “Hollywood” farce. Delivered by Robert De Niro, Ben Stiller, Dustin Hoffman and Barbra Streisand the comedy just keeps coming. The cast is clearly enjoying themselves and this is communicated to the audience. And it’s, arguably De Niro’s finest comedy performance. Watch it back to back with Meet the Parents and enjoy…