Top 10 Best Al Pacino Movies of All Times

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Al Pacino is often thought of as one of the greatest actors in the history of cinema. With a career that dates back over 40 years, Al Pacino has been entertaining moviegoers with his intense performances. A native New Yorker, Pacino jumps out of the screen with his high-energy and powerful presence.

With over50 acting credits to his name, which movies showcase his best work? Compiling a list of the best Al Pacino movies of all time is no easy task. There are plenty of films to choose from, but he has had a few duds – Gigli and The Merchant of Venice.

If you are looking for a good time, try some of the films in this list of top 10 best Al Pacino movies of all time.

#10 – Donnie Brasco (1997)

Donnie Brasco 1997

Director: Mike Newell
Writers: Joseph D. Pistone (book), Richard Woodley (book)
Stars: Al Pacino, Johnny Depp, Michael Madsen

Donnie Brasco is a tale of an FBI undercover agent infiltrating the mob. Al Pacino stars as the mobster being targeted by Johnny Depp’s FBI character. Despite the fact that Al Pacino was simply playing the stereotypical gangster, he still manages to pull it off without coming across as a caricature. Pacino captures the role perfectly and makes viewers feel sympathy for the killer.

#9 – Serpico (1973)

Serpico (1973)

Director: Sidney Lumet
Writers: Peter Maas (book), Waldo Salt (screenplay)
Stars: Al Pacino, John Randolph, Jack Kehoe

A true story about a New York cop fighting corruption in the force, Al Pacino shines in the starring role. The film covers a period in New York City during the 1960s and 1970s when corruption in the police force was commonplace. Serpico remains an honest cop and blows the whistle on his comrades. A powerhouse performance, this is one of the highlights of Al Pacino’s career.

#8 – Scent of a Woman (1992)

scent of a woman (1992)

Director: Martin Brest
Writers: Giovanni Arpino (novel), Bo Goldman (screenplay)
Stars: Al Pacino, Chris O’Donnell, James Rebhorn

The most family-friendly film on the list, Scent of a Woman is a comedy-drama about a blind man hanging out with a prep school student. Al Pacino nails the part of a grumpy, old man. While this film is not filled with violence and as much drama as the other films on this list, Al Pacino still manages to add some profanity to the role.

#7 – Heat (1995)

Heat (1995)

Director: Michael Mann
Writer: Michael Mann
Stars: Al Pacino, Robert De Niro, Val Kilmer

A blockbuster bank heist film, Heat pits Al Pacino against another Robert De Niro. Throughout the film, Pacino’s police lieutenant is on the hunt for De Niro and his gang of bank robbers. Full of shoot-outs, car chases, and explosions, both Pacino and De Niro are able to make sure that their performances are not overshadowed by the special effects and action.

#6 – Carlito’s Way (1993)

Carlito’s Way (1993)

Director: Brian De Palma
Writers: Edwin Torres (novels), David Koepp (screenplay)
Stars: Al Pacino, Sean Penn, Penelope Ann Miller

Here we have Al Pacino playing a Puerto Rican convict that is trying to keep his life straight now that he is out of jail. Unfortunately, he cannot escape his past. His former life keeps catches up to him, as he struggles to start over. This is a dark role and a perfect showcase for Pacino.

#5 – Dog Day Afternoon (1975)

Dog Day Afternoon (1975)

Director: Sidney Lumet
Writers: Frank Pierson (screenplay), P.F. Kluge (based upon a magazine article by)
Stars: Al Pacino, John Cazale, Penelope Allen

Dog Day Afternoon was Al Pacino’s first film after the highly successful Godfather Part II. Playing the part of a bank-robber turned hostage-taker, Al Pacino bounces around, giving plenty of energy to the role. The entire film is tense and nerve-wracking, mostly thanks to Al Pacino’s performance. Though, this really an ensemble, with an entire cast of professionals.

#4 – Glengarry Glen Ross (1992)

Glengarry Glen Ross (1992)

Director: James Foley
Writers: David Mamet (based on the play by), David Mamet (screenplay by)
Stars: Al Pacino, Jack Lemmon, Alec Baldwin

Glengarry Glen Ross is one of those rare films that creates a major impact without adding non-stop action and minimal production. It is essentially a play brought to film with powerful performances from everyone involved, including Kevin Spacy, Alec Baldwin, and Jack Lemmon. It is a tale of realtors that will stop at nothing to close a deal.

#3 – The Godfather Part II (1974)

The Godfather Part II (1974)

Director: Francis Ford Coppola
Writers: Francis Ford Coppola (screenplay by), Mario Puzo (screenplay by)
Stars: Al Pacino, Robert De Niro, Robert Duvall

Arguably the best sequel ever made – The Godfather Part II mostly traces the early life of the Corleone crime family in the 1920s. An epic tale that continues the mobster saga, the film spans several decades, including the 1950s, where Michael Corleone (Al Pacino) is attempting to expand their criminal empire.

In The Godfather Part II, we again have Al Pacino and Robert De Niro; though, they do not share any screen time, as De Niro plays the elder Corleone (played by Marlon Brando during the present-day setting) in flashbacks to the 1920s and the rise of the Corleone’s in New York City.

#2 – The Godfather (1972)

The Godfather (1972)

Director: Francis Ford Coppola
Writers: Mario Puzo (screenplay by), Francis Ford Coppola (screenplay by)
Stars: Marlon Brando, Al Pacino, James Caan

The Godfather, along with the sequel, is the top mob movie in the history of cinema. Marlon Brando plays an aging mob boss that is slowly transferring power over to his son – played by a young Al Pacino. Al Pacino’s Michael is reluctant to inherit the throne but eventually realizes that it is his only option. This is the film that made Al Pacino a household name and jumpstarted his career.

Al Pacino, a relatively unknown actor, beat up several major names to get the role. Other actors that were considered for the role of Michael Corleone include Robert Redford, Jack Nicholson, and Warren Beatty. Robert De Niro was also considered at one point, but ultimately Al Pacino was chosen. This still worked for De Niro, as he got to play the young Don Vito Corleone in the sequel.

#1 – Scarface (1983)

Scarface (1983)

Director: Brian De Palma
Writer: Oliver Stone (screenplay by)
Stars: Al Pacino, Michelle Pfeiffer, Steven Bauer

Scarface is probably Pacino’s greatest performance of all time. It is also the movie containing the line most quoted from one of his films, “Say hello to my little friend.” Scarface, released in 1983, was directed by Brian De Palma, and capture the color and crime of Miami during the period by focusing on the story of a Cuban immigrant that takes over a drug cartel. It also featured a notable performance from a young Michelle Pfeiffer.


Obviously, these are not the only great movies starring Al Pacino. Some notable mentions that did not end up this list include The Devil’s Advocate (1997), City Hall (1996), and Frankie and Johnny (1991). In Frankie and Johnny, we get to see Pacino reteam with Michelle Pfeiffer in a film about a convict and a waitress.

If you are looking for some entertainment for the evening, why not have an Al Pacino marathon. Start with number 10 on this list and work your way down to Scarface.

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