De Niro, who founded the Tribeca Film Festival in 2002 in a bid to revive lower Manhattan after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, is in the running for a third Oscar this month for his supporting role in comedy "Silver Linings Playbook."
Billy Crystal, who played therapist to De Niro's insecure mob boss in the 1999 film "Analyze This," praised the New York actor for his ability to bridge comedies like "Meet the Parents" and dramas such as "GoodFellas" and "Taxi Driver."
"Even in his darkest performances, even in 'Raging Bull' ... he could make you laugh, and that he did in spades in 'Analyze This.' ... I'm not used to playing straight for anybody, but it was a thrill of a lifetime to be on the opposite side of that genius," Crystal said.
"Silver Linings Playbook" director David O. Russell praised De Niro's sensitivity in taking on the role of the father of a bipolar son in the movie.