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Top 10 Robert De Niro Moments

VO: Rebecca Brayton
Script written by Craig Butler. He may be the greatest American actor since Brando. He’s definitely one of the busiest: Robert De Niro is a prolific actor, starring in almost every gangster flick known to man, as well as rom-coms, monster movies and everything in between. And, since “versatile” is his middle name, he’s at home in all of them. In honor of the release of “The Family” starring Robert De Niro, Michelle Pfeiffer, and Tommy Lee Jones on September 13th, 2013, counts down our picks for Robert De Niro’s top 10 moments. Special thanks to our user somewheresomethingso for submitting the idea on our Suggestions Page at WatchMojo.comsuggest

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Script written by Craig Butler.

Top 10 Robert De Niro Moments

He may be the greatest American actor since Brando. He’s definitely one of the busiest – and yes, we’re talkin’ to you. Welcome to, and today we’re counting down our picks the top 10 Robert De Niro moments.

#10 – The Intimidating De Niro and Friends (1995, 2001)

Less is more, and great actors know it. That’s never more evident than when De Niro shares the screen with his fellow famous thespians. In “The Score,” De Niro teams up with fellow Vito Corleone actor Marlon Brando, and the result is a quiet storm of brilliant, improvised moments. Even earlier, De Niro and Al Pacino finally met face-to-face for coffee and some ad-libbed insights into their cat-and-mouse relationship.

#9 – Rise & Shine with Robert (1990)

In 1990’s “Awakenings” De Niro plays a man who has been roused from a decades-long stupor, and who’s anxious to make the most of his new chance at life. Tragically, uncontrollable spasms appear, indicating that he will soon return to his catatonic state. Watch the scene in which he overcomes the spasms long enough for a farewell dance with his newfound love, and it will break your heart.

#8 – This Silver is Golden (2012)

The Academy awarded J-Law the Oscar, but De Niro almost stole “Silver Linings Playbook” away from stars Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence, and this segment shows why. The legendary actor clearly connects with the subject matter on a significant level: In a largely improvised scene, De Niro as Cooper’s father hints at all the love, regret, shame, and longing that is part and parcel of every father-son relationship.

#7 – Sideshow Bob…De Niro (1991)

“Cape Fear” was so good even “The Simpsons” stole from it. The movie taught some good rules: Don’t play hide-and-seek with Robert De Niro. Especially when you’ve hired guys to pound him. And especially when he’s playing a psychopath. Other tips for when De Niro’s in psycho-mode: Check all over – and under – your car. Don’t take any leisurely river cruises. And keep plenty of lighter fluid handy.

#6 – A De Niro You Can’t Refuse (1976)

De Niro tore up the screen in “The Godfather Part II” and won a well-deserved Oscar as a man taking the first steps on the road to becoming a criminal kingpin. Here, De Niro and his partners are small-timers who have been shaken down by a local mobster. De Niro doesn’t like that. The lesson: Don’t mess with De Niro. Ever.

#5 – Robert the Robbin’ Hood (1990, 1995)

Gangsters play by their own rules – at least until they’re behind bars. In “GoodFellas,” De Niro’s a criminal who teaches a valuable life lesson early on to a young hood-in-training. In “Casino,” he doles out some more wisdom as the owner of the titular establishment and makes sure it’s understood that the man who owns the slots calls the shots.

#4 – Father Knows Best…You Wimp (2000)

In 2000’s “Meet the Parents,” De Niro plays Jack, the potential-father-in-law from hell, who takes an instant dislike to Ben Stiller, an unfortunately-named nurse who dares to desire his daughter. Things don’t get better when Stiller talks about how he milked a mother cat to save a tiny baby cat: It’s like he’s begging Jack to diss him. The urn, by the way, contains the ashes of Jack’s dead mother. Let’s see what happens…

#3 – Guns and Robert (1978)

The Best Picture-winning “The Deer Hunter” never flinches from portraying the brutality and savagery of war. It also boasts one of De Niro’s most unforgettable screen moments: the classic scene in which he and Christopher Walken are forced as prisoners to play Russian roulette by their gleefully sadistic captors. Don’t try this at home, kids.

#2 – Don’t Box Me In (1980)

Violence is integral to boxing, but it spills out of the ring and into the life of De Niro’s Jake LaMotta in the knock-out classic “Raging Bull.” The character’s anger, fury and frustration are barely kept in check at the best of times; but when he suspects that his wife cheated with his brother, it all pours out in a tidal wave of vengeance that helped earn De Niro an Oscar.

#1 – Make Sure to Tip this Driver (1976)

If there’s one moment that stands out more than any other in De Niro’s career, it’s this. As Travis Bickle in “Taxi Driver,” De Niro practices how he might act in a tense confrontation. The simple improvised dialogue is now often quoted, but it’s De Niro’s delivery that gives it the impact. Bickle’s going off-the-rails and sees violence as the only way to connect with others, and De Niro gets it all right.

Do you agree with our list? What do you think are Robert De Niro’s best moments? For more top 10s about your favorite actors, be sure to subscribe to

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