Al Pacino is one of the best film actors of all-time. So, this was a bit of a challenge for us…to say the least. As always, we want you 10’s, so be sure to comment below.
Without further ado, the ALL-TIME BEST 10 AL PACINO ROLES.
10. Jack Kevorkian-You Don’t Know Jack (2010)
This outstanding HBO movie really showcased Pacino’s acting range, as he played the famous/infamous “Dr. Death.” Al took one of the most polarizing figures of the last 30 years and portrayed him as the vulnerable, quirky maverick that few got to know intimately.
9. Tony Montana-Scarface (1983)
Most people will probably think this is too low, but I find Scarface to be a pretty underwhelming film and a one-dimensional role for Pacino. While the film does an excellent job encapsulating the excess that was the 1980’s, Pacino rarely rises above a brutal cartoon character in a movie likely meant to be more satirical than it was perceived by audiences.
8. Lt. Vincent Hanna-Heat (1995)
Michael Mann’s Heat is one of the most underrated movies of all-time, and Pacino’s portrayal of an LA cop “losing his religion” (you owe me Michael Stipe!), is equally underrated. The beautiful thing about Pacino’s Hanna and De Niro’s master thief, Neil McCauley, is that they are essentially the same character. Both are ruthless, myopic beasts, who by mere fate, ended up on opposite sides of the thin blue line.
7. Sonny Wortzik-Dog Day Afternoon (1975)
“Attica! Attica!” Tons of people remember the line, but few know it came from this Sidney Lumet masterpiece. Pacino, as unlikely bank robber Wortzik, is both vulnerable and conflicted as he tries to balance morality and necessity. One of the things I love about early Al, is the depth of his characters and how they could be both sympathetic and monstrous at the same time.
6. Carlito Brigante-Carlito’s Way (1993)
Like most Brian De Palma films, Carlito’s Way makes the viewer somewhat uneasy when they look beyond the surface of his work. Pacino as reformed gangster, Carlito Brigante, was outstanding in this tragedy about how we try to change, but never quite escape who we are.
5. Arthur Kirkland-…And Justice For All (1979)
Pacino as unhinged defense attorney Kirland, provided the first glimpse of what has become the actor’s pop culture caricature. The role remains a hidden gem for casual fans and one of the most popular amongst Pacino die-hards.
4. Frank Serpico-Serpico (1973)
Political corruption stories were all the rage in the mid-1970’s, and nobody brought it home quite like Pacino as NYC cop Frank Serpico. The role of Serpico really played into Pacino’s wheelhouse, a man alone in his principles against an entire system. Serpico is both hero and martyr, balanced perfectly by the timeless actor.
3. Lt. Colonel Frank Slade-Scent of a Woman (1992)
“Whoo-ah!” Pacino finally won an Oscar for his portrayal of a blind former Army Ranger who wants to have one last romp before killing himself. The role and the way it was brought to life typifies the second half of Pacino’s career, for good or bad at times. Be on the look out for Burn Notice’s Gabrielle Anwar as Pacino’s tango partner and a young Phillip Seymour Hoffman in this one.
2. Michael Corleone-The Godfather Trilogy
The role that made Pacino a household name. Corleone’s transformation from naive and moral war veteran to cold-blooded monster is one of the most notable in film history. Pacino’s performance throughout the first two films is a work of art, before slightly falling off in the franchise’s third installment. His scenes with John Cazale (Fredo) beautifully juxtaposed the delicacy and brutality of the character.
1. Lefty Ruggiero-Donnie Brasco (1997)
Here’s some controversy at the #1 spot! In my mind, Ruggiero was easily Pacino’s best role, as it was a perfect synthesis of his early and later work. The character also has a vulnerability and neuroticism absent from many of the post-1970’s Pacino performances. Another testament to Pacino in Donnie Brasco was that he brought out the absolute best in Johnny Depp, a performance that might have been his #1 as well. The film as a whole, while often forgotten, is one of the standouts of the 1990’s.
There it is the ALL-TIME BEST 10 AL PACINO ROLES. If you think you’re out… we’re pulling you back in tomorrow for the ALL-TIME 10 MOST UNDERRATED COMEDY SHOWS.