Fans of Robert De Niro have been hopeful for a long time that he’d be back in the Oscar game. This year our wishes may come true.

After eons of bad action films, hit comedies (the “Meet the Parents” trilogy) and strange stuff like “Stardust,” the word is that De Niro has a winner.

“Everybody’s Fine,” is a remake of a Giuseppe Tornatore Italian film, directed by Kirk Jones (”Waking Ned Devine”). De Niro plays the father of Sam Rockwell, Drew Barrymore and Kate Beckinsale. Melissa Leo is featured. In the film, De Niro visits each of the adult children, trying to discover their relationships. Sources say the film is not an update of “About Schmidt.”

The main thing, early viewers say, is that De Niro does his best dramatic work in years. There’s Oscar buzz galore, which can only be good news for De Niro. It’s been a long time since the two Academy Award winner (”Godfather II,” “Raging Bull”) had this much positive talk — not since the 1995-96 period of “Heat,” “Marvin’s Room” and “Casino.”

De Niro’s Oscar nominations (other than his wins) were for “Cape Fear,” “Awakenings,” “The Deer Hunter” and “Taxi Driver.” Believe it or not, he was not nominated for “Goodfellas” or “The King of Comedy.” Go figure.

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