Robert De Niro's Best Movies

In this week's Total Recall, we count down the best-reviewed work of the Family star.

Robert De Niro

Witness protection movies are nothing new, but this weekend's The Family has a better pedigree than most, with behind-the-scenes talent that includes executive producer Martin Scorsese and a terrific cast headed up by Tommy Lee Jones, Michelle Pfeiffer, and the one and only Robert De Niro. De Niro's suffered through some rough recent years at the box office, what with stuff like Killing Season and The Big Wedding, but he's still one of the most respected actors of his (or any) generation, with a filmography so incredible that not even the Best Picture-winning The Deer Hunter can break our Tomatometer-ranked top 10. Now that's what we call a Total Recall!


92%

10. Silver Linings Playbook

On the whole, De Niro had a fairly grim 2012 at the box office, appearing in a string of duds that spanned the genre spectrum from dark thriller (Red Lights) to light comedy (New Year's Eve). But there was a gem in this rough patch: David O. Russell's Silver Linings Playbook, the Oscar-winning dramedy about a troubled teacher (Bradley Cooper) who develops an unexpected friendship with a young neighborhood widow (Jennifer Lawrence) after he's institutionalized following the collapse of his marriage. De Niro's appearance as Cooper's Philadelphia Eagles-loving dad was unquestionably a supporting role, but one that required a surprising amount of dramatic heavy lifting -- which the old master proved ready and willing to provide. "I suppose the phrase 'serious romantic comedy' sounds like a paradox," admitted Linda Cook of the Quad City Times, "but that's exactly what Silver Linings Playbook is: an intelligent, edgy dark comedy with romance at its core."

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91%

9. The King of Comedy

After Martin Scorsese and Robert De Niro made Raging Bull together, Scorsese wanted to reunite for the project that eventually became The Last Temptation of Christ, but De Niro wanted to make a comedy instead. Fortunately, De Niro's sense of humor in the early 1980s was a little more subversive than, say, Meet the Fockers; instead of seeking out easy laughs, he took a shine to a pitch-black screenplay titled The King of Comedy. In it, De Niro played Rupert Pupkin, an emotionally disturbed aspiring standup comic who rests his dreams of fame and fortune on scoring a guest slot on a hit talk show -- bad news for the host, Jerry Langford (Jerry Lewis), who has no intention of booking Rupert and no idea how much trouble he's getting himself into. Today's it's regarded as something of a classic, but in 1983, audiences stayed away from The King of Comedy in droves -- and even the critics who liked it weren't quite sure what they were seeing. As Roger Ebert wrote, "It is frustrating to watch, unpleasant to remember, and, in its own way, quite effective."


95%

8. Midnight Run

Robert De Niro has always been a magnet for tough-guy roles, but he's also very funny -- and although he had an early opportunity to prove it with The King of Comedy, he flashed his comic chops in earnest with 1988's Midnight Run, which found him playing a tightly wound bounty hunter who tracks down a mobster-swindling accountant (Charles Grodin), only to watch in exasperation as his supposedly easy gig unravels into a miserable odyssey of bickering, property destruction, and close calls with the wrong side of the law. But at the box office, things only went right for Run, where it earned more than $80 million -- and it performed just as well with critics like Luke Y. Thompson of the New Times, who wrote, "When it comes to odd-couple action comedies, this is pretty much the epitome of how to do it."

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96%

7. A Bronx Tale

De Niro made his directorial debut with this mob-themed coming-of-age drama, adapted by Chazz Palminteri (who also starred) from his one-man Broadway show. As Lorenzo Anello, the upstanding, no-nonsense father of a boy who continually finds himself drawn into the orbit of a local gangster (Palminteri), De Niro was able to play another side of a story he'd helped tell on numerous occasions before -- and while it wasn't a major commercial success during its theatrical run, it earned praise from most critics, including Clint Morris of Film Threat, who called it "a superb debut and "a gripping movie" and arguing, "De Niro proves to be just as much a force behind the camera as he does in front of it."

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96%

6. Goodfellas

De Niro reunited with Martin Scorsese -- as well as his Raging Bull and Once Upon a Time in America costar, Joe Pesci -- for this masterfully frenetic look at life in the Mafia through the eyes of Henry Hill (Ray Liotta), a onetime mobster who rose through the ranks as a young man before famously turning informant in the early 1980s. Scorsese employed a stellar ensemble cast for Goodfellas, including a number of future stars (among them Samuel L. Jackson) -- but the movie's real draw came from the terrible true story at its center, and how convincingly the seductive pull of the criminal lifestyle was portrayed. "You walk away," wrote Richard Schickel for TIME Magazine, "tantalized by a view into the darkest part of yourself, glad that that part is still behind bars."

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Comments

Vincent

Jerry Benedict

Really? Godfather over Casino? My goodness I hated Godfather 2. And Casino doesn't even make the top 10......and don't get me started on Silver Linings Playbook.

Sep 11 - 04:44 PM

crusader151

Peter Marsh

Apperently you either have no idea how this works or you don't understand numbers. To clear this up it goes by the highest rated movies. And Casino has an 80%. Godfather 2 has a 98%.
80 < 98. Got that?

Sep 11 - 04:51 PM

Rbaldelli7

Michael Baldelli

Why are you trying to explain simple facts to a person that thinks Casino is a better film than Godfather II? Waste of time. I love Casino, but it's no Godfather II

Sep 11 - 05:19 PM

Vincent

Jerry Benedict

I see you are easily entertained.

Sep 11 - 05:49 PM

Patrick Mullen

Patrick Mullen

Amen

Sep 11 - 11:12 PM

Iva Mandalová

Iva Mandalová

I like both, but I find Casino more entertaining (personally) because of its audio-visual qualities. Whatever.

Sep 14 - 01:12 PM

Michael Lopez

Michael Lopez

Michael B. Why would you knock someone who likes Casino more than Godfather 2? That is their personal opinion which should be respected, just like yours should be.

Sep 14 - 04:38 PM

Jonathan Holland

Jonathan Holland

yes . casino is not even in the same league as Godfather 2.

Sep 14 - 09:21 PM

This comment has been removed.

Daniel Mesa De Los Ríos

Daniel Mesa De Los Ríos

LOL

Sep 11 - 06:00 PM

Vincent

Jerry Benedict

Thank you for telling me something I already know.

Sep 11 - 06:01 PM

Janson Jinnistan

Janson Jinnistan

I'll assume you're aware that, regardless of your opinion to the contrary, Godfather 2 is considered a classic, and it made De Niro a star at the time. Because you sound as if you aren't aware of this overwhelming consensus.

Sep 11 - 06:42 PM

Jamie Laszlo

Jamie Laszlo

Ya know...I always considered Casino it a "poor man's Goodfellas." It's not the five-star-epic people make it out to be. Surprisingly, Sharon Stone's performance saves it.

Sep 12 - 06:11 AM

Mathew Jung

Mathew Jung

I don't know anyone who doesn't agree that both Goodfellas and Godfather II are not notably better than Casino, which seemed to emulate Goodfellas. Was very good but not great like the other two movies. I guess there's a first time for everything...

Sep 12 - 09:07 AM

Dave J

Dave J

Also, these ratings are not going by what you think is Robert DeNiro's best movies which I highly doubt you've seen everything he's done!

Sep 11 - 05:12 PM

Vincent

Jerry Benedict

Again, I know, but I'm complaining about the scores.

Sep 11 - 05:49 PM

David Vazquez

David Vazquez

nobody cares

Sep 11 - 05:24 PM

Hugo Emanuel Melo

Hugo Emanuel Melo

I got to say that I can't understand how can someone prefer Casino to Godfather - Part II. In fact, I am suprised that anyone could like The Godfather - Part One and hate on the second (I just pretend that no third part was ever made). To me Casino, as great as it is, allways struck me a bit as a rehash of "Goodfellas".

Sep 12 - 07:38 AM

Chan Choi

Chan Choi

haha so funny nobody cares prince charming, ass

Sep 12 - 08:35 AM

Vincent

Jerry Benedict

I thought Asians were smart.....

Sep 12 - 12:53 PM

Catbus

* Catbus!

Yeah. I think the Godfather 2 was a direct rip-off of The Godfather, right down to the cheesy Italian music. Hell, it even had the nerve to have practically the same name!
I don't see how the makers of The Godfather 2 didn't get their pantses sued off by the makers of the original Godfather.

Sep 12 - 10:32 AM

Janson Jinnistan

Janson Jinnistan

Less cannoli, though.

Sep 12 - 10:41 AM

Catbus

* Catbus!

That's true. Definitely some wiggle room there.

Sep 12 - 10:56 AM

Fred Brooks

Fred Brooks

That would be because the same man directed both Godfather films. So unless Francis Ford Coppola wanted to sue himself which I highly doubt, that was never going to happen.

Sep 13 - 12:24 AM

Fred Brooks

Fred Brooks

@Hector Of Troy - Wow dude you hated "Godfather Part II", you're definitely in the minority there my friend, lol.

Sep 13 - 12:20 AM

Michael Delp

Michael Delp

Godfather part II is overrated. Deniro's part is awesome, but it's really a nonsequitor in the overall story. I never understood why people would like Godfather II over Godfather I. Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying it's a bad movie, it's just not as great as his top three. Goodfellas, Raging Bull, and Taxi Driver are masterpieces. All of you should go back and watch Midnight Run as well, it's really good. I watched King of Comedy when I was a kid and too young probably for it's content but I remember it being the worst piece of crap I'd ever seen. Gross, I hate Juliet Lewis. I would put Meet the Fockers or just about anything else he's done over that one. Oh and where's Cape Fear?? That was one of the scariest thrillers ever. Come on RT voters! Bronx tale (crap) over Cape Fear! And Silver Linings Playbook was the worst piece of crap, and Casino was just too over the top violent.

Sep 13 - 07:08 AM

Emre Kilic

Emre Kilic

u expected Casino to be over Godfather 2, probably the best godfather of all, probably one of the best movies ever made. where is the world going to these days?

Sep 15 - 11:44 AM

Roman Zolanski

Gaylord Focker

Once Upon a Time in America is the greatest film of all time...with the possible exceptions of 2001 and Once Upon a Time in the West. The Wedding Party is well worth seeing...some hilarious scenes.

Sep 11 - 04:50 PM

Czar Nathan English

Czar Nathan English

Glad to see some love for Once Upon A Time In America, for me it could be at least the greatest gangster movie of all time (although my favorite varies between that and Goodfellas)

Sep 11 - 04:53 PM

Hugo Emanuel Melo

Hugo Emanuel Melo

I agree that OUIA is one of the greatest ganster movies of all time. For me it's tied with Goodfellas and The Godfather (part I and 2, they are a single movie, as far as I'm concerned even if it is quite innacurate to say so).

Sep 12 - 07:33 AM

Dave J

Dave J

One of the finest films ever made is probably "Once Upon A Time In America" except that there's supposed to be a 6 hour version floating somewhere in Europe, which was never made available to the US!

Sep 11 - 05:15 PM

crusader151

Peter Marsh

Apperently you either have no idea how this works or you don't understand numbers. To clear this up it goes by the highest rated movies. And Casino has an 80%. Godfather 2 has a 98%.
80 < 98. Got that?

Sep 11 - 04:51 PM

Rbaldelli7

Michael Baldelli

Why are you trying to explain simple facts to a person that thinks Casino is a better film than Godfather II? Waste of time. I love Casino, but it's no Godfather II

Sep 11 - 05:19 PM

Vincent

Jerry Benedict

I see you are easily entertained.

Sep 11 - 05:49 PM

Patrick Mullen

Patrick Mullen

Amen

Sep 11 - 11:12 PM

Iva Mandalová

Iva Mandalová

I like both, but I find Casino more entertaining (personally) because of its audio-visual qualities. Whatever.

Sep 14 - 01:12 PM

Michael Lopez

Michael Lopez

Michael B. Why would you knock someone who likes Casino more than Godfather 2? That is their personal opinion which should be respected, just like yours should be.

Sep 14 - 04:38 PM

Jonathan Holland

Jonathan Holland

yes . casino is not even in the same league as Godfather 2.

Sep 14 - 09:21 PM

This comment has been removed.

Daniel Mesa De Los Ríos

Daniel Mesa De Los Ríos

LOL

Sep 11 - 06:00 PM

Vincent

Jerry Benedict

Thank you for telling me something I already know.

Sep 11 - 06:01 PM

Janson Jinnistan

Janson Jinnistan

I'll assume you're aware that, regardless of your opinion to the contrary, Godfather 2 is considered a classic, and it made De Niro a star at the time. Because you sound as if you aren't aware of this overwhelming consensus.

Sep 11 - 06:42 PM

Jamie Laszlo

Jamie Laszlo

Ya know...I always considered Casino it a "poor man's Goodfellas." It's not the five-star-epic people make it out to be. Surprisingly, Sharon Stone's performance saves it.

Sep 12 - 06:11 AM

Mathew Jung

Mathew Jung

I don't know anyone who doesn't agree that both Goodfellas and Godfather II are not notably better than Casino, which seemed to emulate Goodfellas. Was very good but not great like the other two movies. I guess there's a first time for everything...

Sep 12 - 09:07 AM

Czar Nathan English

Czar Nathan English

Glad to see some love for Once Upon A Time In America, for me it could be at least the greatest gangster movie of all time (although my favorite varies between that and Goodfellas)

Sep 11 - 04:53 PM

Hugo Emanuel Melo

Hugo Emanuel Melo

I agree that OUIA is one of the greatest ganster movies of all time. For me it's tied with Goodfellas and The Godfather (part I and 2, they are a single movie, as far as I'm concerned even if it is quite innacurate to say so).

Sep 12 - 07:33 AM

Dave J

Dave J

Also, these ratings are not going by what you think is Robert DeNiro's best movies which I highly doubt you've seen everything he's done!

Sep 11 - 05:12 PM

Vincent

Jerry Benedict

Again, I know, but I'm complaining about the scores.

Sep 11 - 05:49 PM

Dave J

Dave J

One of the finest films ever made is probably "Once Upon A Time In America" except that there's supposed to be a 6 hour version floating somewhere in Europe, which was never made available to the US!

Sep 11 - 05:15 PM

Rbaldelli7

Michael Baldelli

You know you've had a great career when Goodfellas is your 6th best reviewed film.

Sep 11 - 05:17 PM

Jamie Laszlo

Jamie Laszlo

But then he did The Fan, and it's been mostly crap ever since.

Sep 12 - 06:07 AM

Jason K.

Jason Kaufman

Is this Jamie Laszlo that worked at Chase?

Sep 12 - 01:59 PM

Þórður Björnsson

Þórður Björnsson

Most of this list is some of his best work. But the change I would do: Casino instead of King of New York & The Deer Hunter(I'm shocked that it's not on this list) instead of Silver Linings Playbook(despite not having seen it, I can't imagine it being better then DH).

And I need to see movies like Midnight Run & especially Brazil.

Oh, and to those who haven't seen Once Upon a time in America: Watch the 227 minute version, not the 139 minute one.

Sep 11 - 05:18 PM

Rbaldelli7

Michael Baldelli

Why are you trying to explain simple facts to a person that thinks Casino is a better film than Godfather II? Waste of time. I love Casino, but it's no Godfather II

Sep 11 - 05:19 PM

Vincent

Jerry Benedict

I see you are easily entertained.

Sep 11 - 05:49 PM

Patrick Mullen

Patrick Mullen

Amen

Sep 11 - 11:12 PM

Iva Mandalová

Iva Mandalová

I like both, but I find Casino more entertaining (personally) because of its audio-visual qualities. Whatever.

Sep 14 - 01:12 PM

Michael Lopez

Michael Lopez

Michael B. Why would you knock someone who likes Casino more than Godfather 2? That is their personal opinion which should be respected, just like yours should be.

Sep 14 - 04:38 PM

Jonathan Holland

Jonathan Holland

yes . casino is not even in the same league as Godfather 2.

Sep 14 - 09:21 PM

Typhon

Typhon Q

Taxi Driver is one movie that I need to carve out some time to see.

Sep 11 - 05:22 PM

Blondie

No Name

You should. Great, great movie.

Sep 12 - 02:10 PM

David Vazquez

David Vazquez

nobody cares

Sep 11 - 05:24 PM

Kenny Phelps

Kenny Phelps

Taxi Driver is the greatest

Sep 11 - 05:39 PM

Janson Jinnistan

Janson Jinnistan

Since "Deer Hunter" is also 92%, I would have given it the edge at number 10. Too many great films to squeeze into one list - 1900, The Mission, Angel Heart, Cape Fear, Jackknife, Copland, Jackie Brown.

Anyone who isn't aware of how badly he's just cashing checks these days, he's done 15 films since 2011. He must have had Lehman Brothers investments or something.

Sep 11 - 05:45 PM

Galen Mountfort

Galen Mountfort

Silver Linings Playbook 92.1% Deer Hunter 91.8%

Sep 11 - 06:21 PM

Janson Jinnistan

Janson Jinnistan

Then I blame Jonathon Rosenbaum, the only top critic to give it a rotten review, for questionale political reasons. If he thinks the film puts the blame on the Vietnamese, he must have left before the final scene.

Sep 11 - 06:39 PM

Hugo Emanuel Melo

Hugo Emanuel Melo

The Lehman Brothers pun was gold!

Sep 12 - 07:30 AM

This comment has been removed.

Daniel Mesa De Los Ríos

Daniel Mesa De Los Ríos

LOL

Sep 11 - 06:00 PM

Vincent

Jerry Benedict

Again, I know, but I'm complaining about the scores.

Sep 11 - 05:49 PM

Vincent

Jerry Benedict

I see you are easily entertained.

Sep 11 - 05:49 PM

Daniel Mesa De Los Ríos

Daniel Mesa De Los Ríos

LOL

Sep 11 - 06:00 PM

Vincent

Jerry Benedict

Thank you for telling me something I already know.

Sep 11 - 06:01 PM

Janson Jinnistan

Janson Jinnistan

I'll assume you're aware that, regardless of your opinion to the contrary, Godfather 2 is considered a classic, and it made De Niro a star at the time. Because you sound as if you aren't aware of this overwhelming consensus.

Sep 11 - 06:42 PM

Jamie Laszlo

Jamie Laszlo

Ya know...I always considered Casino it a "poor man's Goodfellas." It's not the five-star-epic people make it out to be. Surprisingly, Sharon Stone's performance saves it.

Sep 12 - 06:11 AM

Mathew Jung

Mathew Jung

I don't know anyone who doesn't agree that both Goodfellas and Godfather II are not notably better than Casino, which seemed to emulate Goodfellas. Was very good but not great like the other two movies. I guess there's a first time for everything...

Sep 12 - 09:07 AM

Will Walsh

Will Walsh

I have been saying for some time that Taxi Driver is the greatest film of all time. Nice to see it at #1.

Sep 11 - 06:02 PM

DBrock

David E-Brock

Taxi Driver is the greatest film of all time. You are correct.

Sep 13 - 11:06 PM

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