“I don’t like to watch my own movies – I fall asleep in my own movies.”—Robert De Niro
The name of Italian-American actor Robert De Niro has become synonymous with the highest tiers of acting talents for the last fifty years or so. Now, as he finds his movies scattered across the world, we’ve collated the five best De Niro films on Netflix.
Famous for his lifelong collaboration with Martin Scorsese in iconic films like Taxi Driver, Raging Bull and many others, De Niro is one of the most celebrated and successful actors of his generation. He is the recipient of multiple awards, including two Academy Awards, a Golden Globe and a Screen Actors Guild Life Achievement Award. He even received a Presidential Medal of Freedom from Barack Obama in 2016.
Born in New York, De Niro was fascinated by cinema since he was a child because he found it an escape from his shy nature. At the age of 16, he dropped out of school to pursue acting. He later said, “When I was around 18, I was looking at a TV show and I said, ‘If these actors are making a living at it, and they’re not really that good, I can’t do any worse than them’.”
We’re looking back on some of the greatest performances of the actor’s long and successful career as a tribute to one of the most talented actors of his time. These are the finest examples of Rober De Niro’s talent currently on Netflix.
Robert De Niro’s best films on Netflix:
5. Sleepers (Barry Levinson — 1996)
A film that sees four boys struggle to come to terms with their heinous childhood is one that is permanently etched into our brains. A dark and mysterious` unfurling ensues as the Hell’s Kitchen location provides the perfect murky backdrop to proceedings.
Following their horrendous childhood at the hands of a stark and scary reformatory school and a serial abuser who is employed to “guard” them, the four boys take different paths in life before two of them end up slaying their former oppressor and must stand trial.
De Niro as Father Bobby Carillo is one of the actor’s esteemed roles. He adds humanity to an otherwise depraved set of circumstances.
4. The Untouchables (Brian De Palma – 1987)
De Niro receded plays Prohibition-era gang leader Al Capone in Brian De Palma’s 1987 crime drama. He even receded his hairline and wore some extra padding in order to look the part.
Capone is hunted by Federal Agent Elliot Ness (played by Kevin Costner) and his group of vigilantes (including Sean Connery as an Irish-American police officer who advocates questionable methods). De Niro perfectly captures the volatility and psychological nuances of one of the most famous mobsters in history.
“I had trouble with some of the scenes with [De Niro], because my character was very straight-arrow, and Robert was able to jump off the page,” Costner remembered. “I was trying to survive with my straight-arrow language against someone who was throwing a level of street language at me that had a level of improv to it.”
3. Once Upon A Time In America (Sergio Leone – 1984)
Leone’s 1984 film is a four-hour epic that chronicles five decades of the lives of childhood friends who grow up to be gangsters. De Niro stars as David “Noodles” Aaronson, a Jewish mobster who gains notoriety during the Prohibition era with his friend Max (James Woods). The director employs a non-linear narrative to subvert the conventional way of depicting gangster stories, choosing to focus on the theme of regret instead.
Sergio Leone earned Golden Globe and BAFTA nominations for Best Director. He had turned down the opportunity to direct The Godfather to work on this masterpiece. After nine months of shooting, he had almost ten hours of material but had to trim it down because of the distributors.
2. Cape Fear (Martin Scorsese – 1991)
This 1991 thriller is a remake of J. Lee Thompson’s eponymous original which starred Robert Mitchum. De Niro doesn’t try mimicking what Mitchum had already achieved in the same role. He makes the character of Max Cady his own, a convicted rapist who channels a rage of Biblical proportions and only has vengeance in his mind. The role brought De Niro an Academy Award nomination for Best Actor.
Speaking about the dreamlike quality of Cape Fear, Scorsese said, “Movies to me are a real dream state, they’re much more real to me than people on the stage. The people on stage I know are really there.
“There’s only a few people I’ve seen over the years in a theatre that make you forget that they’re real up there. Dreams are more real to me.”
1. The Irishman (Martin Scorsese – 2019)
One of De Niro’s latest films is also one in which he gives one of the best performances of his extensive career. Yet another collaboration with Martin Scorsese, the three-and-a-half-hour epic is a culmination of many of the ideas that the duo have explored over the years.
De Niro plays Frank Sheeran, a low-level truck driver who becomes a hitman after crossing paths with Teamsters head Jimmy Hoffa (Al Pacino) and Mafia bigwig Russell Bufalino (Joe Pesci).
The actor explained, “It’s different. The only thing I would put it in the style of, maybe, is Roma. I saw Roma, which is a wonderful movie. That idea of sort of a grand work. Netflix came along and just really gave us what we needed and did not bother anybody. They were great about it. So you couldn’t have asked for a better situation.”