Best Al Pacino Movies


Authored by Phil Dotree in Movies and Television 
Published on 11-19-2009

Al Pacino is widely regarded as one of the greatest actors in the history of cinema. He hasn’t had the most spot-on career. There have been quite a few missteps. However, when Al Pacino is at his best, he’s got an amazing, compelling screen presence. Here’s a look at a few of the greatest movies to feature Al Pacino.

1. The Godfather – The first movie of the Godfather trilogy set Al Pacino as Michael Corleone, a role he’d eventually become inseparable from. The film shows Pacino’s character going from the least intimidating member of the cast to the most intimidating. Michael is one of film’s most complex characters, a son who tried to stay out of his father’s shadow and ended up becoming bloodthirsty. Pacino is absolutely brilliant throughout the film. This was one of his more subdued and nuanced roles.

2. The Godfather Part II – It’s worth listing Part II separate from Part I because Pacino basically played an entirely different character. Michael in Part II started cold and got colder, never regretting any of the brutal moves he makes to protect his business. Pacino’s scenes are intercut with scenes of De Niro playing Don Corleone, and the result is a film that practically defines “juxtaposition.” Many film critics feel that The Godfather II was not only Pacino’s best movie, but one of the greatest movies of all time.

3. Dog Day Afternoon – This classic didn’t have the acclaim of the Godfather series, but has its followers nonetheless. As criminal Sonny Wortzik, Al Pacino helps to build the tremendous tension of a bank robbery. Throughout the movie, as the bank robbery goes worse and worse, Pacino’s character becomes amazingly complex. It’s another difficult role that Al Pacino ended up handling wonderfully. The actor was relatively young when the movie was released, and it’s gone on to achieve cult film status.

4. Scarface – To be honest, Scarface is a bad movie. In a way it’s supposed to be. It’s an over the top and overbearing version of a mob movie. If The Godfather was carefully sketched in pencil, Scarface is the equivalent of a small child whipping a bunch of paint against a wall. Despite this, it’s enormously entertaining. Its center is the wild and overacting Pacino who somehow proves his acting ability by showing us what he looks like when he’s hamming it up. That makes it a rare type of classic movie. Still, it’s certainly a classic.

5. Scent of a Woman – Not all of Pacino’s roles are gangster or crime movies. His best tend to be, which is why this list is mainly populated by mob flicks. However, Scent of a Woman showed more range from Pacino. Pacino’s a blind army officer who is grumpy and rude towards the student assigned to care for him. He carries the “angry old man” role well throughout the movie. His speech in the climax is touching and some of his lines in Scent Of A Woman have become staples of every Al Pacino impression out there.

What are your favorite Al Pacino movies? Disagree with something on this list? Post in our comments section below.


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