There’s a little film in theaters right now called Being Flynn and it stars, among others, Robert De Niro. Now the movie is not really getting much love from critics and it’s only in 4 theaters so it won’t break any records. Why bring this film up? Well as said before, it has Robert De Niro in it.
So maybe the last couple of years have not be that great but he still is a legend among his peers. Winner of 2 Oscars over the years and nominated 4 more times, Robert De Niro is not just an Academy darling, he also has a good number of box office hits and so we are here for just that, a top 10 of his most successful films. For this list I chose worldwide numbers unadjusted for inflation mostly because I just had to get Heat on there.
10. Backdraft (1991) $152.4 million – Now here’s a movie I didn’t expect would make its way on here. This firemen drama directed by Ron Howard is a touching film also staring Kurt Russell, William Baldwin and Donald Sutherland. As far as I remember it was a damn good film so check it out if you haven’t already.
9. Limitless (2011) $161.8 million – This is a newer feature, a film with an interesting concept executed in quite an original way. The only gripe I have is that it feels a bit rushed in certain parts, like they ran out of ideas before the end and just had to finish it somehow. Otherwise Limitless is a great thriller that should be seen.
8. Sleepers (1996) $165.6 million – I think I last saw this a good 12 years ago or more, regardless I still remember enough. It’s about a bunch of boys that are sent to a detention facility for minors after an accident that ends up killing someone. There they are brutalized by a group of guards. Fast-forward 10 years later and a chance at revenge arises. It’s a good film but definitely not for everyone. Robert De Niro plays a priest, sort of a mentor to the boys.
7. Analyze This (1999) $176.9 million – Here Robert De Niro is in comedy mode and he nails it as mob boss Paul Vitti, a gangster with serious issues trying to get in touch with his feelings. Billy Crystal plays a shrink that is forced into helping De Niro’s character and thus hilarity ensues. It’s a great comedy that I definitely recommend to everyone.
6. Cape Fear (1991) $182.3 million – Before playing favorites with Leonardo DiCaprio, Robert De Niro owned that part for director Martin Scorsese and Cape Fear is one of the many collaborations between the two. In this film De Niro plays a convicted rapist, now out of jail, who decides to stalk the family of the lawyer who originally defended him. Good thriller this one, worth your time.
5. Heat (1995) $187.4 million – Oh yeah, now this is a classic featuring one of the most memorable bank heist scenes of all time. Here we have Al Pacino and Robert De Niro on different sides of the law in probably Michael Mann’s best film to date. If you have any interest in movies whatsoever you owe it to yourself to watch Heat at least once.
4. Little Fockers (2010) $310.7 million – And now we get to the bottom of the barrel, a pointless sequel to what was a good series that got worse with each new entry. If you liked Meet the Parents and Meet the Fockers then maybe there might be something here for you but as someone that enjoyed those films, I can’t recommend this trash.
3. Meet the Parents (2000) $330.4 million – Now this I will recommend because it’s one of De Niro’s best comedies, an absolute great time for the entire family. Too bad they had to stretch this series the way they did and ruin it. So what’s Meet the Parents about? Well if you’re a guy then you most definitely remember the first time you meet the parents of your loved one, specifically the father. Now imagine her father as an overprotecting ex-CIA agent with a secret layer in the basement and tiny cameras all around the house. In this film he’s also a cat lover and not to fond of Jews while Ben Stiller’s character is exactly that and a dog person.
2. Shark Tale (2004) $367.3 million – This one is an ok animated movie that will entertain the youngsters and probably won’t bore you, much. Robert De Niro lends his instantly recognizable voice to a shark mob boss, so right up his alley. The film also features the voices of Will Smith, Renee Zellweger, Jack Black, Angelina Jolie and even Martin Scorsese.
1. Meet the Fockers (2004) $516.6 million – The sequel to Meet the Parents, not as good but still funny. Riding on the success of the original, it became a huge hit, one that spawned a less successful and ultimately horrible 3rd entry found above, named Little Fockers.
I feel that with Robert De Niro, more so then others, most of his best movies weren’t exactly big ticket sellers so quite a few of them didn’t make this top 10. Old or new, I have to mention here some of my favorites that are not found above, films like Taxi Driver, Goodfellas, Casino, The Untouchables, Awakenings, Raging Bull (won him an Oscar), Jakie Brown, Stardust or The Godfather Part 2 (another Oscar). This are just off the top of my head so excuse me if I’m missing some of his greats.
So what is your favorite Robert De Niro film?