3. City by the Sea (2002)
A relative obscurity from the early '00s places De Niro in cop mode opposite a young James Franco, who plays his druggie son. The big moment comes toward the end, as the father essentially pleads with his son, for his son's life. It's effective and heartbreaking; I still remember De Niro's breakdown even though the movie itself is largely forgettable. Something else I remember about City by the Sea: De Niro getting a terrific screen partner in Frances McDormand, who makes the most of an underwritten love interest role.