Robert De Niro has given us many unforgettable performances since turning the simple query “Are you talking to me?” into a classic quotation. He was getting mushy with Meryl Streep in Falling in Love before he was terrifying us as the crafty mobster Jimmy Conway in Goodfellas. He was also taking us to church as Father Bobby in Sleepers just a year after Heat was released. While a select selection of De Niro’s performances will always stand out in his filmography, it’s time to focus on the lesser-known films that have equally memorable Robert De Niro performances.
1. This Boy’s Life (1993)
Director- Michael Caton-Jones
A son and mother flee the East and an abusive boyfriend in 1957 in search of a fresh life, and wind themselves in Seattle, where the mother meets a courteous garage mechanic. Because he hangs out with the wrong set, the child is constantly in problems. The mother marries the mechanic, but they quickly discover that he is an aggressive and irrational alcoholic, and they try to keep hope alive in an impossible circumstance as the youngster grows up with plans to flee the small village by any means necessary. Tobias Wolff’s genuine story inspired the film.
2. Sleepers (1996)
Director- Barry Levinson
A prank is perpetrated by four Hell’s Kitchen guys, resulting in the injury of an elderly man. The four companions are altered by the beatings, humiliation, and sexual abuse they receive from the guards supposed to protect them at the Wilkinson Center in upstate New York. Thirteen years later, a chance encounter led to an opportunity for vengeance against the Wilkinson Center and its guards.
3. Awakenings (1990)
Director- Penny Marshall
A new doctor is assigned to a ward with a large number of patients who have become catatonic. He’s disturbed by them, as well as the fact that they’ve been catatonic for decades with little possibility of recovery. He obtains authorization to test a potential chemical remedy on one of them when he discovers one. The first patient, who went into a catatonic state at the age of 20, is now in his 50s when he awakens. The video then revels in the patients’ newfound awareness, as well as their family’ reactions to the freshly awakened.
4. Everybody’s Fine (2009)
Director- Kirk Jones
Frank Goode, a recent widower with heart problems who resigned from a factory job and is pleased of having pushed his adult children toward achievement, lives alone in Elmira, New York. Frank intends to surprise each of the four kids with a visit, despite doctor’s orders, throughout the summer. He travels to New York City to see his artist son, his daughter, an advertising executive in Chicago, his son, a conductor on tour in Denver, and his daughter, a performer in Vegas. None of them are what he expects or aspires for. Will they allow him to see themselves as they are, and will this father be able to adapt?
5. Falling In Love (1984)
Director- Ulu Grosbard
Molly is a lovely housewife living in rural New York with her husband, a doctor. She gets her presents mixed up with a stunning young man named Frank while out Christmas shopping in Manhattan. Frank, who also lives upstate, is a married architect with two young children. They cross paths again months later when they take the same train into NYC. Both have a strong attraction to each other right away, but neither of them is searching for a relationship. They keep stumbling into each other and engaging in extended exchanges. Against their better judgments, they are both falling in love.
Whether or not you love, like, or dislike De Niro’s filmography of performances, it’s hard to argue that he hasn’t made some of the greatest movies in cinematic history. His dedication to character is unrivaled, and for an actor who has been in countless blockbuster hits and Oscar contenders alike, it’s difficult to think of another actor who could command the same respect from both ends of the spectrum.