Although he wasn’t the star of a blockbuster franchise, Robert De Niro was one of the standout actors of the 70s, 80s, and 90s. From eccentric to loveable, people loved seeing De Niro bring his characters to life, with many of his best films proving to be incredibly influential on pop culture, cinema, and, in part, our everyday lives. So now, we run back over what we think could be De Niro’s top ten films, which is a list stacked to the rafters with all-time greats.

10. Cape Fear (1991)

In 1991, cinema-goers were still fixated on the fast-paced explosions and physically massive movie stars of the 1980s, with the Terminator franchise going another step forward with Judgement Day. While the tone of more recent Terminator movies have trailed off a bit, the originals were setting the bar for cinema at the time, and yet it was De Niro’s part as Max Cady in the psychological thriller Cape Fear that snuck him another Best Actor nomination. Cape Fear was a hit at the box office, but the credit all went to the performance of De Niro and direction of his long-time collaborator, Martin Scorsese.

9. The Deer Hunter (1978)

The Vietnam War had traumatised the United States, shaking the country to its very core, so it makes sense that the creative minds in Hollywood would use the big screen as a way to process the events in the Far East. The Deer Hunter was one of Hollywood’s first attempts to do so, and yet while it was made for viewers of the time, at its heart the De Niro-led war drama still tells the tale of human endurance – keeping it relevant and powerful for modern viewers.

8. Once Upon a Time in America (1984)

Showcasing the span of Robert De Niro’s illustrious acting career, he also starred in the epic crime drama Once Upon a Time in America, which was Sergio Leone’s final film. They say that making his swansong ruined the health of the ‘Godfather of Spaghetti Westerns’, but through Leone’s perseverance and De Niro’s stellar acting, the film’s full cut was a masterpiece.

7. Heat (1995)

Still the biggest movie star in the world, Arnold Schwarzenegger was dominating the 90s with some of his best movies, including Total Recall, Kindergarten Cop, and Terminator 2. A bit later in the decade, De Niro weighed in with an action movie of his own, Heat, in which he starred as a professional robber. This was also the film that famously got De Niro acting across from Al Pacino in the same scene for the first ever time.

6. The King of Comedy (1983)

This Scorsese-De Niro movie from 1983 is often cited to have influenced a modern classic. De Niro’s Rupert Pupkin in The King of Comedy is said to likely have been a strong inspiration for the recent Joker movie. I have to say I could definitely imagine De Niro playing the iconic Batman enemy too. But the fact that the Joaquin Phoenix film likely drew from The King of Comedy undoubtedly helped the film with its weight and style.

5. Casino (1995)

Across Europe and North America, casinos have always had a special place in entertainment culture. Betway Casino describes how games like blackjack deliver a rush to players; the classic card game always did and it continues to do so online nowadays, with the likes of live blackjack and classic blackjack. But in the 90s, it was all about the glitz and glamour of the Las Vegas casino – in the films anyway. Of course, the thrill of playing the games allowed people to relate to scene, but it was prestige of the acting and particularly De Niro’s role, which saw him play an almost oddly restrained character.

4. Goodfellas (1990)

While most of the best actors of the 80s, like Harrison Ford and Arnie, featured in epic film franchises, in the 90s, many of the best films were standalone greats, like Goodfellas. Still seen as the best mob or crime movie of all-time, De Niro was a key piece of what might just be the pinnacle of Scorcese’s directorial career. That long steadicam shot through the kitchen alone is an iconic piece of filmmaking.

3. The Godfather: Part II (1974)

The Godfather: Part II was actually almost another addition to the Scorsese-De Niro collection of epic movies as Scorsese nearly directed it. De Niro only came into the picture because the studio convinced Francis Ford Coppola to make a sequel by allowing for extensive flashbacks of a young Vito Corleone. It proved to be one of De Niro’s best performances, helping the film to achieve the near-impossible feat of a sequel being as great as an award-winning original.

2. Taxi Driver (1976)

Taxi Driver spurred a revelation in film, and now its fingerprints can be found all over modern cinema. De Niro once said that he thinks that this film would be one that people talked about for decades to come, and as Mental Floss reports that everyone took a huge pay cut to make the film, it seems as though it wasn’t just De Niro who had a lot of faith in what turned out to be a perfect examination of radicalisation.

1. Raging Bull (1981)

Between 1977 and 1992, De Niro received five Academy Awards nominations for Best Actor, but it was 1981’s Raging Bull which brought him the major accolade. Still his only Best Actor Oscar to date, there couldn’t be a better movie to have earned him such praise. Having read boxer Jake LaMotta’s memoirs, De Niro put the book in Scorsese’s hands in 1974, leading to what is still the best boxing movie ever made.

Robert De Niro was one of the biggest actors of the 70s, 80s, and 90s, with these films adding credence the argument that he might just be one of the greatest actors of all time.