Robert De Niro (“Raging Bull”) has delivered a one-two punch to all the other Best Actor Oscar winners of the 1980s. That decade’s first Best Actor winner was also your clear choice for the best of the ’80s, handily winning Gold Derby’s recent poll asking you to vote for your favorite performance.
De Niro won with 40% of the vote, with last decade’s winner Daniel Day-Lewis (“My Left Foot”) coming in second at 22%. F. Murray Abraham (“Amadeus”) was the only other winner to earn a double-digit percentage, taking in 11%. Dustin Hoffman (“Rain Man”) followed close behind at 8% and Michael Douglas (“Wall Street”) and Paul Newman (“The Color of Money”) tied for fifth at 5% apiece. There was another tie further down between Henry Fonda (“At Golden Pond”) and Ben Kingsley (“Gandhi”) at 3% each, then William Hurt (“Kiss of the Spider Woman”) at 2%. Robert Duvall (“Tender Mercies”) came in last with just 1% of the vote.
Considered one of his defining roles, De Niro in “Raging Bull” is a pure force of nature. The actor plays real-life boxer Jake LaMotta as uncompromising and volatile, while still carrying that charisma that’s helped him have such a long career in Hollywood. De Niro also gained 60 pounds and trained with LaMotta himself, a total commitment to the part.
This was De Niro’s second Oscar win, though his first in Best Actor. He previously won Best Supporting Actor for “The Godfather Part II” (1974) and he has been nominated five other times: for “Taxi Driver” (1976), “The Deer Hunter” (1980), “Awakenings” (1990), “Cape Fear” (1991) and “Silver Linings Playbook” (2012). De Niro was last seen on the awards map at the Emmys, for HBO’s telefilm “The Wizard of the Lies.”