15 Best Al Pacino Movies of All Time

Al Pacino, born Alfredo James Pacino in Manhattan, New York City on April 25, 1940, has been an influential figure in American cinema since the 1970s. With a career spanning decades, Pacino has established himself as a talented and versatile actor, working in genres ranging from drama and crime to comedy.

Some of his most notable films include “The Godfather,” “Scarface,” and “Scent of a Woman.” His work on television and stage productions, such as “Angels in America” and “You Don’t Know Jack,” further solidifies his status as a celebrated and respected actor. As Al Pacino’s filmography continues to grow, his enduring legacy and impact on the world of film remain undeniable.

15. The Panic in Needle Park (1971)

“The Panic in Needle Park” is a 1971 American drama film starring Al Pacino in his first lead role. Set in New York City, it provides a stark portrayal of heroin addicts who frequent “Needle Park.”

Directed by Jerry Schatzberg, the screenplay was written by Joan Didion and John Gregory Dunne. The story comes from James Mills’ 1966 novel of the same name. The movie pairs a young Al Pacino with actress Kitty Winn.

Pacino’s character, Bobby, is a street-wise kid with a long history of hustling. Involved in drugs and crime from a young age, his first bust happened when he was nine. Winn’s character, Helen, falls in love with Bobby, leading the film to depict a tumultuous relationship in their struggle with addiction.

14. The Devil’s Advocate (1997)

“The Devil’s Advocate” is a 1997 American supernatural horror film that features two iconic Hollywood actors, Al Pacino and Keanu Reeves. Directed by Taylor Hackford and written by Jonathan Lemkin and Tony Gilroy, the film is a blend of drama, fantasy, and mystery.

Keanu Reeves plays Kevin Lomax, an ambitious Florida defense lawyer who lands a high-powered position at a prestigious New York law firm. The firm is headed by the charismatic John Milton, portrayed by the legendary Al Pacino.

As the story unfolds, Kevin discovers the dark secrets of the law firm and its leader, leading to a thrilling and intense experience. In the movie, Pacino’s stellar performance as John Milton captivated audiences, adding to his impressive list of unforgettable roles throughout his career.

13. Scent of a Woman (1992)

“Scent of a Woman” is a 1992 drama film directed by Martin Brest. It features a standout performance from Al Pacino as the lead character, retired Army Lieutenant Colonel Frank Slade. In the movie, Slade is a blind man dealing with his recent loss of sight and struggles with loneliness and self-pity.

The film’s plot follows Charlie Simms, a scholarship student at an exclusive New England preparatory school. Needing money to buy a plane ticket home for Christmas, Charlie accepts a job to “babysit” the blind and bitter Slade over Thanksgiving weekend.

Throughout the story, Slade and Charlie form an unlikely bond. Frank’s tough exterior begins to crack as he starts to rely on Charlie’s assistance. Meanwhile, Charlie learns valuable life lessons from the Colonel, who has a history of loneliness and self-loathing.

12. Serpico (1973)

In 1973, Al Pacino starred in the biographical crime drama film, “Serpico,” directed by Sidney Lumet. Pacino plays the title character, Frank Serpico, an honest New York City police officer who blew the whistle on rampant corruption within the force. The movie is based on a book of the same name, written by Peter Maas with the assistance of the real-life Frank Serpico.

The film showcases early 1970s New York, capturing the atmosphere and challenges faced by honest police officers during that time. Pacino’s performance in “Serpico” highlights his exceptional acting skills as he portrays the struggle Frank Serpico faced in fighting against widespread corruption.

11. Angels in America (2003)

“Angels in America” is a critically acclaimed 2003 miniseries adapted from Tony Kushner’s award-winning plays. The series focuses on social, sexual, religious issues, and the AIDS crisis in 1980s America.

Featuring a star-studded cast, Al Pacino portrayed the controversial lawyer Roy Cohn. Other notable actors included Meryl Streep, Emma Thompson, Patrick Wilson, and Mary-Louise Parker. Directed by Mike Nichols, the miniseries achieved outstanding success in both viewership and recognition.

The series received numerous accolades, making history at the 56th Primetime Emmy Awards. It swept every major eligible category and won all four acting categories. This remarkable achievement has only been matched by a few programs since.

10. Donnie Brasco (1997)

“Donnie Brasco” is a 1997 American crime drama film directed by Mike Newell, starring Al Pacino, Johnny Depp, and Michael Madsen. The film is based on the true story of Joseph D. Pistone, an FBI undercover agent who infiltrated the Mafia.

In the movie, Al Pacino plays the role of Benjamin “Lefty” Ruggiero, a seasoned mob hitman. Johnny Depp portrays the title character, Donnie Brasco, who is actually Joseph Pistone in deep cover, using Donnie Brasco as his alias.

The story follows the relationship between Lefty and Donnie, as the two become close friends and colleagues within the Mafia family. Donnie’s professional and personal lives become intertwined, putting both his job and life at risk.

9. Insomnia (2002)

“Insomnia” is a psychological thriller film released in 2002, directed by Christopher Nolan and written by Hillary Seitz. This movie is notable as the only film directed by Nolan that he did not write or co-write.

The film stars Al Pacino, Robin Williams, and Hilary Swank. In the movie, Al Pacino plays Will Dormer, a veteran LAPD homicide detective dispatched to northern Alaska. He teams up with a local detective, played by Swank, to investigate the murder of a local teen.

Robin Williams portrays a chilling and memorable antagonist as Walter Finch, the primary suspect behind the murder. The movie was praised for the strong performances by Pacino and Williams, as well as Nolan’s gripping portrayal of character development and the psychological aspects of the plot.

8. Glengarry Glen Ross (1992)

“Glengarry Glen Ross” is a 1992 American drama film adapted from David Mamet’s 1984 Pulitzer Prize-winning play of the same name. Directed by James Foley, the film features a powerful performance by Al Pacino, making it a notable entry in his illustrious Hollywood career.

In the movie, Al Pacino plays the role of Ricky Roma, a smart and competitive real estate salesman. His performance earned him a nomination for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor. The film dives into the world of real estate sales, showcasing the dark underbelly of the business.

7. The Insider (1999)

“The Insider” is a 1999 American drama film directed by Michael Mann. The film features iconic actor Al Pacino and co-stars Russell Crowe. The screenplay was adapted by Eric Roth and Michael Mann from Marie Brenner’s 1996 Vanity Fair article “The Man Who Knew Too Much”. Supporting actors in the film include Christopher Plummer, Bruce McGill, Diane Venora, and Michael Gambon.

In the film, Al Pacino plays Lowell Bergman, a seasoned television producer on the show “60 Minutes.” Bergman discovers a story about Jeffrey Wigand, portrayed by Russell Crowe, who is a research chemist and former tobacco executive. Wigand becomes a whistleblower, exposing the unethical practices within the tobacco industry.

“The Insider” tackles themes like corporate corruption and the struggle for journalistic integrity. Throughout the film, both Al Pacino and Russell Crowe give powerful performances, contributing to the film’s overarching message about standing up against powerful corporations and the importance of truth.

6. The Irishman (2019)

“The Irishman” is a 2019 American epic gangster film directed and produced by Martin Scorsese. It stars legendary actors Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, and Joe Pesci, and is based on the 2004 book “I Heard You Paint Houses” by Charles Brandt. The film delves into the life of Frank “The Irishman” Sheeran, who was a former labor union official and hitman with connections to the Bufalino crime family.

In the film, Robert De Niro plays the role of Frank Sheeran, while Al Pacino portrays the character of Jimmy Hoffa, a powerful labor union leader. The story revolves around Sheeran’s life and the various mob-related events that defined his career spanning several decades.

“The Irishman” explores themes such as the intersection of crime and politics, Mafia history, and the effects of aging, loss, and regret. The film touches on historical events like Fidel Castro’s rise in Cuba, the CIA’s attempts to overthrow him, President John F. Kennedy’s assassination, and the mob wars of the 1960s and ’70s.

5. Heat (1995)

“Heat” is a 1995 American crime film written and directed by Michael Mann. The movie features an ensemble cast led by Al Pacino and Robert De Niro, with other notable actors such as Val Kilmer, Tom Sizemore, Jon Voight, and Amy Brenneman in supporting roles.

Pacino plays the role of Lt. Vincent Hanna, an LAPD detective obsessed with catching Neil McCauley, a seasoned criminal mastermind portrayed by De Niro. McCauley leads a professional gang of high-end thieves, involved in a series of heists.

The central plot revolves around a botched heist, which leaves a vital clue for the LAPD to uncover. This misstep triggers a high-stakes game of cat and mouse between McCauley and Hanna. Their dynamic relationship and confrontations bring a riveting tension to the screen.

4. Dog Day Afternoon (1975)

“Dog Day Afternoon” is a 1975 American biographical crime drama film directed by the renowned filmmaker Sidney Lumet. The film stars Al Pacino as the lead character, Sonny Wortzik, alongside actors John Cazale, James Broderick, and Charles Durning.

Set in New York City, the movie revolves around a group of amateur bank robbers who planned the heist of a bank. However, their seemingly simple plans are quickly hindered by one unexpected mishap after the other.

The movie showcases Al Pacino’s exceptional acting ability, portraying Sonny Wortzik as an inexperienced criminal. Wortzik’s character is supported by his accomplice, Sal, played by John Cazale. As the story unfolds, the botched robbery attempt result in a tense hostage situation.

3. The Godfather: Part II (1974)

“The Godfather: Part II” is a 1974 American epic crime film directed by Francis Ford Coppola. Both a sequel and a prequel to the 1972 film “The Godfather,” this installment presents parallel dramas that combine a continuation of the Corleone family’s story and a portrayal of the early life of Vito Corleone in 1920s New York City.

Al Pacino shines as Michael Corleone, the new Don of the Corleone crime family. His performance is supported by a stellar ensemble cast, including Robert De Niro as the young Vito Corleone, Diane Keaton as Kay Adams-Corleone, and Robert Duvall as Tom Hagen.

It employs a rich, complex narrative that weaves together past and present events, effectively portraying the intertwined personal and criminal lives of the Corleone family.

2. Scarface (1983)

“Scarface” is a 1983 crime drama film directed by Brian De Palma and starring Al Pacino as Tony Montana, a determined Cuban immigrant who rises to power in the Miami drug trade. The film showcases Montana’s ruthless actions as he seizes control of the drug cartel and succumbs to greed.

The story begins with Tony arriving in Miami as a Cuban refugee in 1980. He starts working for a drug lord named Frank and quickly climbs the ranks in the criminal underworld. Tony’s strong ambition and brutal tactics help him gain power, but this also leads to conflict in his personal life.

Al Pacino delivers a captivating performance as Tony Montana, with his fiery energy and powerful presence. His portrayal of Tony’s fierce determination and unapologetic attitude make for a memorable character. The film’s strong supporting cast, including characters like Manny, Tony’s loyal friend, and Gina, Tony’s overprotective sister, add depth and complexity to the story.

1. The Godfather (1972)

“The Godfather” is a 1972 American epic crime film directed by Francis Ford Coppola. The screenplay was co-written by Coppola and Mario Puzo, based on Puzo’s best-selling 1969 novel of the same title. The film features an ensemble cast including Marlon Brando, Al Pacino, James Caan, Richard Castellano, Robert Duvall, Sterling Hayden, John Marley, Richard Conte, and Diane Keaton.

Al Pacino played the iconic role of Michael Corleone, the youngest son of mafia boss Don Vito Corleone, portrayed by Marlon Brando. Initially, Michael is hesitant to get involved with the family business, but he is eventually drawn into the world of crime and power struggles to protect his loved ones and the family’s empire.

As the story unfolds, Michael demonstrates his intelligence and ruthlessness, ultimately rising as the new Don. The Godfather showcases many complex relationships and moral dilemmas, exploring themes of family, loyalty, and the consequences of power.

Frequently Asked Questions

Which Al Pacino films are available on Netflix?

Netflix’s library constantly changes, but some of Al Pacino’s movies may be available at any given time. To find out the current status of Al Pacino movies on Netflix, it is best to search directly on the platform or use a third-party service that lists Netflix content.

What are the top rated Al Pacino films on IMDb?

Al Pacino has been in many acclaimed films. Some of the top rated Al Pacino films on IMDb include “The Godfather” (1972), “The Godfather: Part II” (1974), “Dog Day Afternoon” (1975), and “Scarface” (1983). Ratings can fluctuate, so it is advisable to check IMDb for the most up-to-date information.

Which movies have Al Pacino and Robert De Niro starred in together?

Al Pacino and Robert De Niro have starred together in a few films, including “The Godfather: Part II” (1974), “Heat” (1995), “Righteous Kill” (2008), and “The Irishman” (2019).

What are some romantic films featuring Al Pacino?

Al Pacino has appeared in a few romantic films throughout his career. Some examples are “Frankie and Johnny” (1991), where he pairs with Michelle Pfeiffer, and “Sea of Love” (1989) with Ellen Barkin.