Robert De Niro is one of the most revered actors of all time, and for good reason. The two-time Oscar winner has given some of the most indelible performances in movie history, and thanks to his decades-spanning friendship with director Martin Scorsese, he’s been at the center of one of the most noteworthy partnerships that cinema has ever known. This year, the duo has added another worthy addition to their existing list of collaborations in the form of the new true-crime drama Killers of the Flower Moon.
While De Niro’s partnership with Scorsese has produced most of the films he’ll always be best-known for, the actor has starred in more great movies than most other Hollywood stars in history. With that in mind, here are five underrated movies featuring De Niro that you should check out.
This 1993 drama is a bruising, difficult coming-of-age story that isn’t mentioned enough when critics and casual viewers alike discuss Robert De Niro’s filmography. Based on a memoir by Tobias Wolff, This Boy’s Life stars De Niro as the domineering, abusive stepfather to Toby (Leonardo DiCaprio).
It’s a painful, effective showcase for both De Niro and a then-up-and-coming DiCaprio, and it marked the first time that the two actors had ever worked together onscreen. Thirty years later, they’ve reunited for Killers of the Flower Moon.
This Boy’s Life can be rented or purchased on Prime Video.
One of only two films that Robert De Niro has ever directed, 1993’s A Bronx Tale stars the Oscar winner as an MTA bus driver whose relationship with his young son is threatened by the boy’s admiration for a local mafia boss (Chazz Palminteri).
The film gives De Niro the chance to offer more of his own perspective on many of the same subjects he’s explored through his work with Martin Scorsese, but it doesn’t feel like a knockoff Goodfellas or Mean Streets. On the contrary, it’s a surprisingly stirring coming-of-age drama about the different, sometimes conflicting places one can look for guidance throughout life.
A Bronx Tale is streaming on Sling TV for free.
Directed by John Frankenheimer and co-written by David Mamet, Ronin follows a team of former special government agents who are hired to pull off a dangerous heist.
De Niro stars in the film as a former CIA mercenary, and the actor brings appropriate levels of both grit and machismo to what is essentially a straightforward thriller that’s nonetheless executed at a high level. As far as De Niro’s action-movie efforts go, Ronin isn’t mentioned nearly as often as it should be, and it’s worth checking out just for its numerous, unforgettable car chase sequences.
Ronin streaming on Max.
Robert De Niro has a small, but scene-stealing role in this 2007 fantasy blockbuster from Kingsman: The Secret Service director Matthew Vaughn. Based on the Neil Gaiman novel of the same name, Stardust follows a young, adventure-seeking man (Daredevil star Charlie Cox) who sets out to capture a fallen star, unaware that he isn’t the only one intent on doing so.
Along the way, he crosses paths with De Niro’s Captain Shakespeare, a skyship pirate who is far more jovial and delightfully theatrical than his reputation suggests. De Niro’s performance, along with Michelle Pfeiffer’s gloriously villainous turn as its witchy antagonist, are the main reasons to seek out Stardust if you haven’t already.
Stardust is streaming on Paramount+.
For the past 20 years or so, Robert De Niro has starred in more than a few forgettable, occasionally awful comedies. It is, therefore, worth mentioning one of the actor’s only recent comedies that’s actually really good: The Intern.
Written and directed by rom-com auteur Nancy Meyers, this underrated 2015 gem stars De Niro as a 70-something widower who takes a job as an intern at a trendy fashion website and quickly befriends its overworked CEO (Anne Hathaway). Together, De Niro and Hathaway have enough playful, charming chemistry to make The Intern’s goofy, potentially saccharine premise work, which only helps the film’s many memorable comedic gags stand out that much more.
The Intern is streaming on Hulu.
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