Best Robert De Niro Movies, Ranked


robert deniro is often considered one of the greatest actors of all time. He quickly became a household name and arguably America’s favorite mobster. De Niro is best known for his collaboration films with Martin Scorsese, but has also made a name for himself in family comedies. He rose to prominence for his role in a baseball movie called Hit the drum slowly, but it wasn’t until he teamed up with Scorsese, who focused on showcasing De Niro’s versatile acting abilities, that his career really took off. His acting range knows no bounds as he can effortlessly go from adorable grandpa to jaw-dropping mob member. Amazingly, De Niro only holds two Oscars to his name, but his legacy goes far beyond what any award ever could. These are the best Robert De Niro movies, ranked.

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ten Meet the parents

robert de niro cat

Robert De Niro stars alongside Ben Stiller in the hilarious 2000s version of a man visiting to meet his girlfriend’s parents for the very first time. De Niro plays Jack Byrnes, a former CIA agent who will stop at nothing to prevent his daughter’s engagement to her boyfriend Greg Focker. Jack goes to all sorts of extremes to find out all he can about Greg and even goes so far as to give him a polygraph test.

However, one of the best parts of Meet the parents watched De Niro interact with his on-screen cat. In an interview on the Today Show, director Jay Roach commented“Bob was close to this cat, though…He actually asked at the end what was going to happen to him. I always thought he would be the one to adopt him.” De Niro would continue to be in the sequels to the Meet the parents movies, but it was in the very first that he brought the character to life in a way that only he could.

9 Silver Linings Playbook


David O.Russell Silver Linings Playbook served a major cast list in the film adaptation of Matthew Quick’s bestselling novel. Robert De Niro takes on the role of Pat Sr. and while it may be one of his more toned down roles to date, his delivery is impeccable. In the novel, Pat Sr. serves as an explanation for Pat’s mental illness and does not have much life. However, De Niro turns the character into a family man struggling with the loss of his pension while trying to welcome his son home after a nervous breakdown. Russell harnesses De Niro’s ability to be tough yet lovable through his quick comedic deliveries.

At the heart of Silver Linings Playbook is a story of family and adapting to life like never before. De Niro encompasses this theme by making Pat Sr. an aloof father, but also the heart of the film at the same time – someone who relates to so many people, but who cares just as deeply for his son.

8 average streets

wicked streets of niro

wicked streets, one of Scorsese’s more light-hearted mafia films, presents De Niro in a different light. His character, Charlie, is constantly in conflict between his mafia and living an honorable lifestyle. He fights against the opposing actions of committing acts of violence and then committing to Catholicism. De Niro delivers a character that is both undeniably charming, yet somewhat anti-hero. Unlike his other gangster roles, De Niro’s Charlie reads more like a kid trying to do the right thing and in a constant struggle between the differences between good and evil.

seven The Irishman

Scorsese's The Irishman Gets Limited Theatrical Release Date, Won't Expand

In 2019, three of the greatest Italian-American actors met on screen for another Scorsese masterpiece. Robert De Niro, confronted Frank Sheeran, a hitman and retired truck driver. However, The Irishman was far from fiction. Al Pacino, Joe Pesci, and De Niro all had to prepare to portray real-life characters on screen. Taking a fictional character and successfully transforming it from page to screen is a triumph in itself. With the right supporting actors and a visionary director, bringing fiction to life can allow you to put a bit of yourself into the character.

Yet there’s a whole different element to taking an actual figure and transforming into it. De Niro was allegedly involved in the push to get The Irishman made for a dozen years. In an interview with The Hollywood Reporterhe said: “It’s a great book […] I read it and I said, ‘Marty [Scorsese], you should read this book because I think that’s maybe what we should try. We started this whole process in 2007, so it took a long time. Glad to see it and share it after all this time working on it.”

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6 Heat


Take a break from organized mafia crime and learn about these professional thieves. Similar to many of his other roles, De Niro plays a high-end criminal who steals large sums of money during major bank robberies. Although he still plays an alpha criminal, De Niro is able to elevate the role to the size of the crime. Sure, there are remnants of past character traits he brings out in Neil, but De Niro is still able to make him fresh.

5 The Godfather: Part II

the Godfather

by Francis Ford Coppola The Godfather will easily go down as one of the greatest cinematic masterpieces of all time. De Niro tested for the role of Sonny in the first film, but turned it down. Some thought it was a mistake to turn down a role in such a big production and said he would lose so much exposure. Yet De Niro would be cast two years later in one of the best sequels of all time, The Godfather: Part II, playing a young Vito Corleone.

Filling Marlan Brando’s shoes is no easy task, but De Niro does it effortlessly. His mannerisms, dialect, and even his facial expressions all paint a vivid picture and present a prequel to which audiences come together in the first film. His role as Vito Corleone was not only a huge success for The Godfather franchise, but also put De Niro on the map for true Hollywood success.

4 Casino


We especially remember his horrible scene where Joe Pesci is beaten in a cornfield with a baseball bat, Casino packs a big punch on violence. De Niro plays Ace Rothstein, a man hired by the mob to run a casino on the Vegas Strip. Ace and his lifelong friend Nicky make the casino a success until the pressure mounts and trouble begins. Inspired by a true story, Martin Scorsese’s film Casino does not ask much of its viewers in terms of character distribution. Each is exactly as they claim. Except for Ginger, played by Sharon Stone. Stone and De Niro create the believable dynamic of a married couple that is purely for show. Ace longs to keep his wife and make her happy. Ginger, on the other hand, appreciates her for her money, and for that alone. Their marriage is one of the most interesting parts of the film as the audience can see De Niro interacting in a relationship setting. The nature between De Niro and Stone is reminiscent of his relationship depicted in Angry bull.

3 Freedmen


Jimmy Conway is hands down one of the most heartless characters ever written, and there’s nobody better than De Niro to bring that kind of man to life. Another Scorsese film based on a true story, Freedmen is linked with The Godfather when it comes to the most notable mafia films. Although the plot mainly revolves around Henry Hill, played by Ray Liotta, De Niro is one of the most memorable parts of the film.

Jimmy Conway doesn’t like details, and he doesn’t like being dubbed. He keeps his friends close and his entourage even closer. De Niro delivers believable conceit, anger, and a manipulative attitude, easily making Jimmy Conway one of his best performances yet.

2 Taxi driver

Taxi driver

1976 Taxi driver is more than a police drama. It’s a commentary on Vietnam War veterans and their mental health upon their return. De Niro plays Travis Bickle, a recently returned war veteran whose urge to commit violence increases as the film progresses. Seemingly nice at first, Travis struggles to make a living in New York City as a taxi driver as his temper gets worse and worse. Constantly exposed to sleazy vampires driving around in cabs at night, Travis develops a savior complex and feels he must clean up the dirty streets.

There are plenty of actors who practice the acting method of getting into a role, but De Niro has taken it to a new level. He got a taxi driver’s license to prepare for the role of Travis. He even invented one of the most quoted lines of all time in the famous improvisation “Are you talking to me?” scene. In an interview with TODAY, Martin Scorsese commented on the scene: “He kept saying, ‘Are you talking to me? “He kept repeating it, repeating it… and the (assistant director) was knocking on the door saying, ‘Come on, we have to get out of here. And I said, ‘No, that’s fine , it’s good. Give me another minute.” It was like a jazz riff, like a solo.

1 angry bull

angry bull

angry bull was released in 1980, but was shot entirely in black and white. Scorsese made this choice because he thought the film would have a better chance of winning, and he was absolutely right. De Niro won an Oscar for his role as Jake LaMotta, a middleweight boxer whose anger and inability to express his emotions ultimately cost him everything he worked for. De Niro transforms both mentally and physically to portray LaMotta. Physical beatings, domestic violence and self-loathing are just some of the themes that angry bull serves its viewers. Only a legend like Robert De Niro could channel such strong energy to deliver such a solid performance.

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