|Robert De Niro|
Robert De Niro: five best moments
With a sparky new role in David O Russell’s Miracle Mop biopic Joy, here is a look back at the Oscar winner’s finest performances
Friday 1 January 2016 10.00 GMT
Between plane-movie roles in The Intern and Dirty Grandpa, Robert De Niro provides us with a much-needed reminder of what he can do in David O Russell’s biopic Joy, about the inventor of the Miracle Mop.
As a temperamental father looking for love, De Niro delivers a sharp turn in a film that is filled with awards-calibre performances. Before he returns to cinemas in a few weeks to make smutty jokes with Zac Efron, here are five of his films to revisit.
At the age of 30, De Niro was a little old to be breaking out, at least in Hollywood terms. After roles in a selection of curios (including Brian De Palma’s Greetings and The Wedding Party), however, he aligned himself with the similarly aged Martin Scorsese for this seminal crime drama. Harvey Keitel took the lead, but De Niro’s self-destructive trouble-maker stole every scene.
Insufferable De Niro impersonators have helped to make Travis Bickle his most over-quoted character, but it’s worth remembering just how electrifying he is as the lonely, paranoid and unravelling New Yorker on a mission. The film gives De Niro the opportunity to showcase the full gamut of his talents, from awkward outsider to psychotic vigilante.
The Deer Hunter
Capping off one hell of a decade, De Niro’s final film of the 1970s saw him briefly step away from Scorsese for a heartbreaking role as an army conscript heading to Vietnam. He earned a best actor Oscar nomination for his crushing performance, which is showcased in all its terrible glory in the Russian roulette scene above.
While their musical collaboration New York, New York brought the pair their first and only flop together, Scorsese and De Niro soon reunited for this Oscar-winning boxing drama. The film might have, controversially, lost out on a best picture Oscar to Ordinary People, but De Niro deservedly picked up best actor for his transformative take on Jake LaMotta.
The King of Comedy
The King of Comedy is easily the least watched film on this list, but it’s the one that arguably contains De Niro’s most fascinating performance. His fifth film with Scorsese saw De Niro show off his talent for pitch-black comedy. As the monstrous, tragic, annoying, delusional Rupert Pupkin, he is utterly transfixing, and his unhinged obsession with the cult of celebrity made the film hugely prescient.