Al Pacino is one of Hollywood's most celebrated stars. Through his five-decade career, Pacino made his name as one of crime cinema's greatest stars, but there is much more to his career than just playing cops and gangsters. He has won an Oscar, two Tonys, and two Primetime Emmys, giving him the "Triple Crown of Acting" on the big screen, small screen, and stage.
Pacino got his start a little late, debuting as a 29-year-old in 1969, but then he immediately became a star. In only his third year of acting for movies, he took on the role of Michael Corleone in The Godfather, and the rest is history. With so many breakout and critically acclaimed roles in his career, here is a look at Al Pacino's 10 best movies according to Rotten Tomatoes scores.
10 DONNIE BRASCO (88%)
Released in 1997 and directed by Mike Newell, Donnie Brasco is based on the novel Donnie Brasco: My Undercover Life in the Mafia by Joseph D. Pistone. The film tells Pistone's story of going undercover to help[ bring down the Bonanno crime family in New York City.
Johnny Depp starred as Pistone, who took on the alias of Donnie Brasco, while Al Pacino starred as aging hitman Lefty Ruggiero, who befriended Brasco and vouched for him when he joined the crime family. Pacino was brilliant as the mafia hitman who never once believed Brasco would betray their friendship.
9 SERPICO (90%)
The year after Al Pacino's breakout role in The Godfather, which earned him an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor, he took on the lead role in Serpico. In that film, Pacino picked up his first Oscar nomination for Lead Actor.
Directed by Sidney Lumet, Serpico starred Pacino as a police officer who discovers the corruption within his department. He attempts to report them but faces threats and harassment and almost loses his life as a result. The performance won Pacino his first Golden Globes award.
8 YOU DON'T KNOW JACK (91%)
One of the lesser-known films on this list is the 2010 biopic, You Don't Know Jack. The biopic, made for HBO, starred Al Pacino as Jack Kevorkian, the doctor who gained the nickname Dr. Death due to his willingness to help terminally ill patients end their lives.
The film traces Kevorkian's life, from helping his first patient die painlessly and then moves on to his later legal problems and endless trials as the court system fought endlessly to convict him of murder. Pacino was widely praised, winning a Primetime Emmy, Golden Globe, and SAG award for his performance.
7 INSOMNIA (92%)
Following his breakout with the movie Memento but three years before starting the Dark Knight Trilogy, director Christopher Nolan helmed the 2002 remake of the 1997 Norwegian film Insomnia. In this remake, Nolan cast against type by bringing on Robin Williams to portray a serial killer.
However, in a perfect fit, Al Pacino starred as an LAPD detective. He is facing an Internal Affairs investigation and is sent with his partner, who plans to testify against him to Alaska to help in the investigation. The movie deals with the 24 hours of daylight at that time of the year and how it messes with Pacino's cop, who is already on edge.
6 GLENGARRY GLEN ROSS (95%)
A beloved cult classic, Glengarry Glen Ross, was written by playwright David Mamet and brilliantly directed by James Foley. It helps that Foley had some of the best actors on the planet to deliver the Mamet lines, and the movie was almost like a stageplay brought to life on the big screen.
Al Pacino was Richard Roma, one of four real estate salesmen who are ordered to take part in a sales contest where the winner gets a car, the second-place salesman gets a knife set, and the other two are fired. Pacino shares the screen with Kevin Spacey, Alec Baldwin, Alan Arkin, Ed Harris, and Jack Lemmon.
5 DOG DAY AFTERNOON (95%)
Al Pacino had picked up three Oscar nominations in three movies between 1972 and 1974, and he picked up his fourth in 1975 thanks to his role in the crime heist movie, Dog Day Afternoon. Pacino played a crook named Sonny, who attempts to rob a bank with two friends.
However, the entire robbery goes wrong when they realize they hit the bank on a bad day, and when Sonny tries to burn the register, the smoke alerts the police who surround the bank. When Sonny yells "Attica Attica" in a conversation with a cop, he gets the crowd and the press on his side.
4 THE INSIDER (96%)
In 1999, Al Pacino teamed up with Michael Mann for the second time since he appeared alongside fellow The Godfather Part II actor Robert De Niro in Heat. In The Insider, Pacino played CBS producer Lowell Bergman, who was able to produce a segment on 60 Minutes about a whistleblower to the tobacco industry.
Mann surrounded Pacino with a great cast, including Russell Crowe in the lead as whistleblower Jeffrey Wigand and Christopher Plummer as journalist Mike Wallace. The Insider picked up seven Oscar nominations but failed to win any of them.
3 THE GODFATHER, PART II (97%)
Possibly the best movie of Al Pacino's career ranks third when it comes to Rotten Tomatoes scores. Francis Ford Coppola followed up The Godfather with a second chapter in the story, showing the rise to power of Al Pacino's Michael Corleone with flashbacks of his father Vito's rise to power.
Robert De Niro joined the franchise as the young Vito, a role portrayed by Marlon Brando in the first movie. The film received nine Oscar nominations, with Al Pacino picking up one for Best Actor. It won Best Picture and Best Director, and De Niro picked up an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor.
2 THE GODFATHER (98%)
Al Pacino has eight Oscar nominations in his career, with five for Best Actor and three for Best Supporting Actor. Five of those movies are in his top 10 highest-rated films according to Rotten Tomatoes, but Pacino didn't win a single Oscar for any of those five, his only win coming for Scent of a Woman in 1993.
The first nomination of his career came with The Godfather, which was for Best Supporting Actor. The film had Pacino as Michael Corleone, a young man returning home from the war to one of the most significant mafia families in town. The movie started his moral decline into taking over the family business.
1 THE IRISHMAN (100%)
The Irishman has not hit Netflix yet, so audiences haven't had the chance to watch it. However, the Rotten Tomatoes scores on this list are all about critic reviews, and this Martin Scorsese movie is the only one of Al Pacino's career that has a perfect 100% fresh rating, with an impressive 74 reviews so far.
This biopic is one that Scorsese has wanted to make for many years. The story is about Frank Sheeran (Robert De Niro), an older man looking back on his past as part of the Budalino crime family and his role in the disappearance of Jimmy Hoffa, portrayed in the film by Al Pacino.