'Say Hello to My Little Friend': Al Pacino's 10 Best Movie Roles, According to Rotten Tomatoes – Collider

A cinematic icon
Al Pacino is one of Hollywood's best dramatic actors of all-time; he's won multiple Emmy and Tony Awards, as well as an Oscar for Best Actor, and numerous Academy Award nominations for his roles. Alongside Robert De Niro and Joe Pesci, he is one of the most critically acclaimed and recognizable actors for the gangster movie genre.
RELATED: 'The Godfather' Cast and Character Guide
With so many films under his belt, it's hard to narrow down just which roles are considered his most memorable. These films are all classics in their own rights, and are not separated by much at all and are considered the top of Pacino's filmography. He's played a lot of gangsters, and a few Lieutenants.
There are a lot of excellent sports dramas, but Any Given Sunday always feels like it gets lost in the mix. Its Critic Score may not be the highest, but it has a solid Audience Score. It's star-studded with Pacino at the helm, as well as cameo's from football legends Dick Butkus, Y.A. Tittle, Emmitt Smith, Terrell Owens and more.
An aging coach of a once great football team, D'Amato (Pacino) must juggle his QB problem with aging star Jack Rooney (Dennis Quaid) and young hot-shot Willie Beamen (Jamie Foxx) while battling with the new Owner of the team (Cameron Diaz). Pacino also delivers one of the best monologue's in sports movie history, maybe even movie history period. It is sensational.
Considered one of the best movies of the year, and earning Jack Lemmon the Volpi Cup for Best Actor at the 49th Venice Film Festival, as well as Pacino being nominated for an Academy Award and Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actor. The movie was somehow a box office bust, but garnered a cult following and is considered a classic today.
Based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning play by David Memet of the same name, the most popular scene of the film may be credited to Alec Baldwin, who comes in to deliver a speech informing four real estate salesmen they have two weeks to earn their worth, and only the top two will remain.
An unbelievable tandem of Pacino and Johnny Depp (Donnie Brasco) in a fairly underrated crime movie. Pacino plays aging mafia hitman Ben 'Lefty' Ruggiero, where Depp plays FBI agent Joe Pistone, who is undercover as a jewel thief named Donnie Brasco.
Through the events of the movie, Brasco and Lefty develop a friendship that leads Brasco to toe the line between real criminal and FBI agent, knowing the consequences of his actions will ultimately result in the death of his friend. The chemistry between the two great actors makes for a thrilling movie.
Shockingly, among all the gangster films in Pacino's career that are so beloved and praised, Scent of a Woman is the film that got Al Pacino his first and only Oscar. Playing a blind, alcoholic Vietnam vet Frank Slade, he becomes friendly with young Charlie Simms (Chris O'Donnell) when Simms is tasked with taking care of him during the Thanksgiving holiday.
The two bond over ups and downs of family and the fact Frank plans on committing suicide, which Charlie stops. At the end Frank defends Charlies honor to his school board, after originally telling him to rat on his classmates, which he doesn't end up doing. It's another fantastic monologue by Pacino.
One of the best crime-thrillers of all-time delivered by Director Michael Mann, it marked the first time De Niro and Pacino had worked together since The Godfather Part II, a movie which they never shared a scene together, and in this one they shared very little screen time as well.
It follows LAPD Lt. Hanna (Pacino) and Neil McCauley (De Niro) as each attempt to outwit the other. McCauley for one more big heist, and Hanna to stop him, each while dealing with their own personal struggles; which is something they actually bond over, although they are at ends with one another. It is a film that is the peak of crime-thrillers.
A biographical crime drama based on the man of the same name, the movie follows Frank Serpico as he attempts to navigate corruption in the NYPD, as well as becoming a whistleblower against the Knapp Commission. The movie is shown In medias res, beginning with Frank being rushed to a hospital after being shot by another cop, and proceeding as a long flashback.
The movie was a critical and box office success, and naturally, it drew some criticism from police officers. Nonetheless, it is considered one of Pacino's best films, not only during his run in the 70s, but in his career. Pacino really get to flex his range of emotions in this film, which for fans at the time was a sharp contrast to his Stoic appearance as Michael Corleone just a year prior.
A career criminal who is let out of jail early, Carlito vows to turn his life around and leave his past behind. However, he gets wrapped up in multiple problems after becoming co-owner of a nightclub with the intention of saving up and moving to the Caribbean.
One of the saddest endings of any gangster movie, Carlito is almost out. He's narrowly avoided death a few times, and he sees the light at the end of the tunnel, until Benny Blanco (John Leguizamo) turns up again and shoots him as he is about to run away with his pregnant girlfriend. It's a tragic tale, and one that really tugs at the heart strings.
After filming The Godfather and Part II together a few years prior, Al Pacino and John Cazale got together again for their third film as the two inept and inexperienced criminals Sonny and Sal. A bank robbery quickly turns into a hostage situation and then the media and FBI get involved, it's total chaos.
It's a movie that revolves around two guys way in over their heads, and it ends in a sad way, but in a way that only a situation like this can end. Still, that doesn't mean you can't feel sorry for the two naive crooks. Attica!
Very, very close to taking the title of Al Pacino's most iconic role is the Miami drug kingpin Tony Montana. Tony and his best friend Manny (Steven Bauer) receive green cards from Cuba after assassinating a Cuban general. Once in Miami, Tony viciously and ruthlessly murders his way to the top of the cocaine trade in Florida.
With his rapid rise to power, his standoff with Miami PD and his ongoing war with the Columbian Cartel, Tony ends up spiraling out of control and destroying the relationships once close to him. But he also goes out with the biggest bang in the history of film.
The Godfather Part I and II are considered two of the greatest movies of all-time and absolute masterpieces by acclaimed director Francis Ford Coppola, based on the novel by Mario Puzo. No one talks about Part III. Michael is the youngest son of crime boss Vito (Marlon Brando), he joined the army, was a straight edge and kept away from the family business.
Once his father is almost killed in a failed hit, Michael inserts himself. Then, with the death of his brother Sonny (James Caan) and eventually his father, Michael becomes the boss of the family. Part II explores Michael as he becomes further entrenched in the family and the darkness that engulfs him, as well as a backstory to his father Vito (played in Part II by Robert De Niro).
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John is a writer and podcaster based in New York. He’s passionate about comic books, superhero movies, Star Wars, and anime.
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