Top 10 Films – Al Pacino

Rocking both a wicked beard and trendy beanie in Serpico

Pacino, rocking both a wicked beard and trendy beanie in Serpico

List compiled by Eddie on 22/07/2016

For a period of time it seemed as though Alfredo James Pacino could do no wrong.

From just his third feature film appearance in a little movie called The Godfather in 1972 through to another gangster tale that some might of heard of called Scarface that came out in 1983, Pacino delivered just over a decade’s worth of incredible motion picture work that saw him nominated for 5 Academy Awards in the space of 7 years, four of which came in a row from 1973 – 76.

This body of work solidified Pacino as a living legend of Hollywood and while the time period after his amazing industry dominance of the 70’s and early 80’s produced some seriously misjudged material, Pacino is still readily regarded as a living legend of the screen and there are still gems to be found in his later filmography with the recent and loveable Danny Collins proof there’s still life in the aging veteran yet.

In a career that spans over 50 acting credits, picking a Top 10 Pacino list takes some careful consideration and below is a list of dramatic and often crime themed pictures that rank amongst some of the genres very best and prove once and for all that Pacino deserves his status as an acting superstar.

As always this list below is not reflective solely on Pacino’s turn alone but rather the film as a whole.

Happy reading and happy watching!

Pacino and Robin Williams produced the goods in Christopher Nolan's Insomnia

Pacino and Robin Williams produced the goods in Christopher Nolan’s Insomnia

 10. Insomnia (2002)

Pacino plays – Will Dormer

Proving that even lesser Christopher Nolan is better than most directors at their peak, Insomnia which is the third feature from Nolan at the time is a well shot an intriguing thriller that saw both Pacino and Robin Williams deliver great turns as two men on opposite sides of the law. A unique premise that is worthy of a re-watch.

Does the film centre on crime? Yes.

9. Any Given Sunday (1999)

Pacino plays – Tony D’Amato

Oliver Stone’s energetic and frantic NFL film Any Given Sunday is an intense watch that also harbors many classic dialogue driven scenes that Pacino shares the bulk load of. A completely different football themed movie than what we’re used to, Sunday is Stone on fun and watchable form.

Does the film centre on crime? No.

8. Donnie Brasco (1997)

Pacino plays – Lefty

Playing alongside a baby faced Johnny Depp, Pacino shines in Mike Newell’s true life mobster tale that seems perfectly suited to Pacino’s certain set of skills in the genre. Works as not only a great drama but a great thriller and in the loaded classic section of crime films, Donnie Brasco deserves a place right underneath them.

Does the film centre on crime? Yes.

7. Serpico (1973)

Pacino plays – Serpico

Working with famed and now sadly deceased director Sidney Lumet produced wonders for Pacino in this true tale of New York cop Frank Serpico, a man who wasn’t afraid to blow the whistle on police corruption that was running rampant in the Big Apple through the late 60’s and early 70’s. One of the era’s most renowned police tales, Serpico is classic stuff.

Does the film centre on crime? Yes.

6. The Insider (1999)

Pacino plays – Lowell Bergman

An oft-forgotten about entry in the great directing career of Michael Mann, this late 90’s thriller was in its day nominated for 7 Academy Awards including a slew of the big daddy categories and it’s not hard to see why. A pulsating tale of cigarettes, reporting and shady deals, The Insider is made all the affecting due to the fact it’s based on a real life story. Fascinating stuff.

Does the film centre on crime? No.

Pacino gave it his all in the classic Dog Day Afternoon

Pacino gave it his all in the classic Dog Day Afternoon

5. Dog Day Afternoon (1975)

Pacino plays – Sonny

“Attica. Attica” – immortal words yelled by Pacino’s Sonny in his re-teaming with Sidney Lumet in this much loved thriller about bank robbers, doomed lovers and media scrums. Dog Day Afternoon is a completely unique and nigh on flawless re-telling of the famous Chase Manhattan Bank siege that ended in dramatic fashion at John F. Kennedy airport.

Does the film centre on crime? Yes.

4. The Godfather: Part 2 (1974)

Pacino plays – Michael Corleone

Without a shadow of a doubt one of if not the most highly regarded sequels of all time, The Godfather Part 2 is epic storytelling at its very best. At over 3 hours Francis Ford Coppola spares nothing and no one in his continuation of the Italian crime family the Corleone’s. With classic performances from Pacino, a young Robert De Niro and John Cazale, Godfather Part 2 deserves its highly renowned status.

Does the film centre on crime? Yes.

3. Heat (1995)

Pacino plays – Lt. Vincent Hanna

Does it get any better than De Niro and Pacino sitting down together for quiet cup of coffee? After watching Heat you’d probably be inclined to say no. Michael Mann’s sprawling crime saga that features one of cinemas greatest ever shot outs is also the first time we ever got to see screen legends De Niro and Pacino share screen time together and the results were better than we could’ve ever hoped for. Thrillers truly don’t get much better than this.

Does the film centre on crime? Yes.

2. Scarface (1983)

Pacino plays – Tony Montana

Little needs to be said of Tony Montana and his adventures in the sun-soaked streets Miami in Oliver Stone’s 3 hour epic, as unlike almost any other movie of its kind before or since Scarface has seeped into pop culture of all kinds and is a beloved movie of many the world over. Thanks to an almost never better and fiery Pacino and some classic 80’s stylings, Scarface will continue to live on as a classic of cinema offerings. For our review of Scarface click here.

Does the film centre on crime? Yes.

1. The Godfather (1972)

Pacino plays – Michael Corleone

At the time of writing, sitting pretty at #2 on the IMDB Top 250, arguing against the brilliance of Francis Ford Coppola’s adaptation of Mario Puzo’s book of the same name is a futile mission. Filmed impeccably, acted astoundingly and filled with more classic scenes than countless other films combined, The Godfather is near as flawless as a film could ever get and a highpoint for all involved.

Does the film centre on crime? Yes.

One of the many memorable images of Pacino as Michael Corleone

One of the many memorable images of Pacino as Michael Corleone

What are your favourite Pacino films? Did we miss out on some of his gems or do you perhaps prefer your Pacino more Jack and Jill not Tony Montana? Let us know in the comments below!

For our other actor Top 10’s check below –

Tom Hanks

Robert De Niro

Leonardo Di Caprio

Bruce Willis

Nicolas Cage

Russell Crowe

Denzel Washington

Brad Pitt

Tom Cruise

Johnny Depp

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13 responses to “Top 10 Films – Al Pacino

  1. I watched all the movies on this list and I have to say that “Insider” was rather unmemorable. It’s a decent movie, but it’s not as classic as some of the other movies on the list. It took me a while to remember what was it about.

    It’s hard to contain Pacino in a 10-movie list, but you did an excellent job. I would just like to add “Carlito’s Way” and “…and justice for all” with its legendary “you’re out of order” quote.

  2. One of the nicest men I’ve ever met. I went to this little small private screening at Sony one day & took my friend who..oddly enough..it was his uncle who had killed Al at the end of Scarface. Just a bit role for the guy..but one that you always remember. I sit down and it’s only like 15 seats in the whole room.. my friend taps me and his eyes are all big..& whispers..look who’s next to you.. it’s Al Pacino.. I swallowed.. he said Hi ..and started chatting away to me..during the movie he offered me some of his candy he’d brought.. it was surreal..Afterwards..we went out and my friend just blurts out all of sudden who his uncle is.. etc.. and we spent the next hour or so chatting it up with Al. hahahahaa Seriously a just lovely guy.. A few years later..I got to interview him after of The Humbling..still as gracious as ever.. One of my favourite actors of all time! thanks for this great piece reminding us all of that!

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