So I started thinking about my favorite De Niro films. Not films that he was in, necessarily. I love The Godfather: Part II, and De Niro is awesome in it. But it's not a De Niro film, if you know what I mean. Same with a film like The Untouchables. He was great as Capone and the film was a ton of fun, but it's not a De Niro film.
So here, without further ado, are my personal favorite Top 5 De Niro films in chronological order:
- Raging Bull (1980)
- Midnight Run (1988)
- Goodfellas (1990)
- Mad Dog and Glory (1993)
- Ronin (1998)
Raging Bull was the first De Niro film I ever saw that just floored me. He disappeared into that role like I've never seen him do before or since. Just a brutal portrayal of a damaged man and maybe the best boxing film ever made, and that's saying something.
Midnight Run wouldn't work without the comic pairing with Charles Grodin, but that doesn't make it any less of a classic De Niro film in my book. He was flat-out awesome in it as bounty hunter Jack Walsh. It's hard to tell, but I hope he had as much fun making that film as I have watching it. Which I have several dozen times now. One of my favorite films of all-time.
Goodfellas might seem like an odd choice at first. It's more of a vehicle for Ray Liotta, who is awesome in it in his own right. Or Joe Pesci for that matter. But having re-watched it a few weeks ago, I was amazed at how much of a De Niro film it is. Much of the drama and action in the film comes as a result of his character's actions and/or behind-the-scenes dealings. Often quiet or composed, he lets his facial expressions do most of the acting. And he dominates doing so. Why not the similarly themed Casino? Eh...it's good, but it feels like a pale comparison to Goodfellas.
Mad Dog and Glory is probably the one that has most of you scratching your heads. I just loved how he played against type. Normally that wouldn't result in a De Niro film, but I think it worked to near perfection in this one thanks to some inspired casting like Uma Thurman, David Caruso and Bill Murray. I think it's one of the more underrated films in his catalog.
Ronin is the film that got me thinking about all this. I love that film, and I watch it nearly ever time it's on. Just watched most of it again on Wednesday night. Another film that De Niro is out front of with a fantastic supporting cast like Sean Bean, Stellan Skarsgaard and Jean Reno. Not only does it feel like a quintessential De Niro film, but it also feels like a quintessential John Frankenheimer film as well. I used to love it for the breath-taking car chase scenes through crowded French streets, but now I watch it for De Niro and the rest of the actors.
Do you have any personal favorite De Niro films that I may have missed?