To describe Al Pacino is simply an incredibly hard task. However, saying he is one of the greatest actors in the history of cinema sums it up accurately. An extremely magnetic and prolific artist, he is known for his volcanic tirade, smoke-burnished voice, jet black hair, diminutive frame, and last but not least, playing violent and authoritative characters. Besides, he most definitely revolutionized his craft. Here are the best Al Pacino performances, in my view:
P.S. As always, feel free to (dis)agree with me, contribute your own thoughts and give new suggestions. Thank you for reading!
10. Tony D'Amato - Any Given Sunday (1999)
In one of Oliver Stone's not so exquisite movies, Al Pacino gives an intense and motivational performance.
If you want to take anything from this movie it should probably be one of D'Amato's lines of dialogue a line about how you can win or lose on "...any given Sunday." - it is all on you, if you have determination, tenacity and resilience you can achieve anything.
9. Carlito Brigante - Carlito's Way (1993)
In 1973 while he was doing Serpico, Al Pacino read the novels Carlito's Way and After Hours and was fascinated by the character of Carlito and instantly wanted to play him.
About two decades later he finally got the chance (in a collaboration with a certain Brian de Palma) and perfectly got under the skin of a mobster who is unable to escape his past and ends up being dragged into the same criminal activities that got him imprisoned in the first place.
It is worth noting that de Palma's prediction about the film's critical reception was absolutely correct. "He told the crew not to get their hopes up about the movie. He correctly predicted that Pacino, having just won an Oscar, would be criticized; David Koepp, having just done Jurassic Park, would "suck"; Sean Penn would be "brilliant" because he had not done anything for a while; and he himself, having not been forgiven for The Bonfire of the Vanities, would not quite be embraced."
8. John Milton (The Devil) - The Devil's Advocate (1997)
This performance deserves place on the list solely for one reason; only Al Pacino can convince you that Lucifer himself is a humanist! A thrilling and frisky display of his acting prowess (even the ever-wooden Keenu Reeves cannot ruin it!).
7. Benjamin 'Lefty' Ruggiero- Donnie Brasco (1997)
In "Donnie Brasco" we can clearly see the marvelous chemistry between Pacino and Johnnie Depp. Both thespians are smashing and Pacino gives a particularly memorable and authentic perusal of a real life hitman.
6. Lt. Vincent Hanna – Heat (1995)
Heat is famous for being the first motion picture that features Pacino and long-time friend Robert De Niro appear together in a film in the same scene.
Based on real events, Pacino plays Lt. Vincent Hanna, a veteran L.A.P.D. detective who tries to track down a skillful professional thief. Hanna is obsessed with his goal and more importantly, he is another example of the actor's marvelous acting abilities.
5. Sonny Wortzik – Dog Day Afternoon (1975)
Sonny Wortztik is definitely one of the most intriguing characters that Pacino has ever portrayed. Dog Day Afternoon was received extremely well by the critics and touches upon important issues such as antiestablishmentarianism , homosexuality and gender identity.
We witness how Wortztik, who has a rather unfortunate life story, develops from a simple conman to a hero of the people.
4. Lieutenant Colonel Frank Slade - Scent Of A Woman (1992)
Scent Of A Woman is the motion picture for which Pacino won his long-awaited (and deserved) Academy Award for an actor in a leading role.
The blind Colonel Slade is very different from the thespian's other roles, which perfectly shows us how diverse Pacino's acting abilities really are.
3. Frank Serpico – Serpico (1973)
Frank Serpico is an honest and reliable cop, who goes undercover in order to expose corruption in the NYPD (again based on real life events). His colleagues are against him and moreover, he puts his life on the line in order to make things right.
Pacino is fantastic (as always), in a role that earned him an Oscar nomination for best actor in a leading role. Moreover, he won a Golden Globe Award for Serpico.
2. Tony Montana – Scarface (1983)
Probably Pacino's most iconic and recognizable performance, Scarface tells the story of Cuban refugee Tony Montana who arrives in 1980s Miami with nothing, and gets to live the American dream, albeit by becoming a powerful druglord.
A movie filled with cocaine, explicit language and violence, it is also unforgettable because of Pacino's flamboyant portrayal of a man who climbs up to the top of the ladder, but yet has many other struggles.
1. Michael Corleone – The Godfather Trilogy (1972-1990)
It is simply impossible to pick another role at number one! The role of Michael Corleone established Pacino as one of Hollywood's heavyweights and landed him two Academy Award nominations (Best Supporting Actor for The Godfather, and Best Actor for The Godfather Part II).
Corleone is a tragic hero, who desperately tries to avoid becoming a part of the crime world, but is dragged into it, culminating at one point, so that he becomes the most feared mafioso in the country.
The Godfather trilogy follows Michael's rise and subsequent fall and his life story would have never been so influential and well-known had it not been for Pacino's mesmerizing magnum opus.