Al Pacino is one of Hollywood's finest. His intensity on screen is legendary and is a joy to watch on screen. From playing a head of a crime family to a coked up drug dealing psycho to the legend Jimmy Hoffa himself, Al has truly done it all.
Have some popcorn close, and bring your screens closer. It's time for a list of Al Pacino’s top performances (in no particular order)
The Godfather (1972)Source: The Gurdian
This was Al Pacino’s breakout role. Playing Michael Corleone in Francis Ford Coppola’s epic “The Godfather”, surprisingly the studio executives didn’t want Al to star in this film as he only had two movie acting credits before starring as Michael, and they wanted a young star like Jack Nicholson or Warren Beatty or Robert Redford.
Coppola didn’t budge and Al was casted, the rest is history. The Godfather went on to make over a 100 million dollars at a budget of only 6 million. Al was also nominated for an Academy Award, for his performance.
The Godfather 2 (1974)Source: Bustle
The greatest sequel cum prequel ever made. Here, Al reprises his role as Michael Corleone, now the don of the Corleone family. In part 1, Michael wanted no part in the family business, but in this movie he is completely unrecognisable. He leads the family with an iron fist, killing mercilessly. It is one of the greatest tragic arcs ever seen on film.
The movie also features Robert De Niro as a young Vito Corleone. Al and Robert never share a scene together (obviously), but it was still great to see them both together on the big screen (if not in the same scenes).
Pacino was nominated again for an Academy Award for his performance
Scarface (1983)Source: Rolling Stone
Brian De Palma’s Scarface is a story about an ambitious man who wants everything, how he violently achieves it, and his eventual downfall. Al Pacino’s over the top and energetic performance of a cocaine fueled gangster is pure gold to watch.
Scarface was not loved as it is today when it first came out, critics bashed the film for various reasons. It became a classic as we know it today when people found out that rap icons Nas, Snoop Dogg, and Diddy all shared a love for violent cocaine fueled flick.
Heat (1995)Source: IMDB
Michael Mann’s classic thriller saw two of the greatest actors together sharing a scene for the very first time. Robert De Niro plays Neil McCauley, a criminal mastermind, and Al Pacino plays Lt. Vincent Hanna, a loud and eccentric cop in pursuit of Neil.
Pacino offers a brilliant portrayal of Vincent Hannah, he is loud, brash, determined (classic Pacino) and we love to see it.
Dog Day Afternoon (1975)Source: IMDB
Sidney Lumet’s Dog Day Afternoon was based on a true story (1972) where 2 New York men tried to rob a bank in broad daylight. The film was shot in sequence to capture the nervous and grim feeling of the situation.
Pacino made a bold decision to play a homosexual on the big screen in the 70’s. He doesn’t portray the character with any specific stereotypes attributed to gay men during the time, he just plays a charismatic and nervous man, driven by passion. After watching this film, you’ll be hearing ‘Attica’ in your head for at least a few days.This film was nominated for six academy awards including best actor in a leading role.
Scent of a woman (1992)Source: IMDB
Martin Brest’s classic drama led the academy to finally give Al Pacino his very first oscar. Scent of a woman is a remake of an italian film of the same name. It revolves around a friendship between an irritable retired army colonel Frank Slade, who lost his sight in an accident (Played by Al), and a young man studying at a posh school.
Pacino gave a splendid performance in this film, expressing his emotions immaculately even though his character was bound by the fact that he was blind.
The Irishman (2019)Source: IMDB
Martin Scorsese’s long awaited gangster epic was worth the hype. Seeing Joe Pesci, Robert De Niro, and Al Pacino on screen together was truly a sight to behold. The movie revolves around politics and the mafia, and how the two are interlinked.
Al Pacino plays the iconic teamsters leader Jimmy Hoffa who mysteriously disappeared in 1975. Pacino plays this role with class and his old pacino style with loud and entertaining outbursts. The scenes with Jimmy Hoffa (Al Pacino) and Tony Pro (Stephen Graham) are some of the most entertaining scenes of the film.
Serpico (1973)Source: The Guardian
Sidney Lumet’s Serpico is based on the book by the same name by Peter Mass. This story is based on real life about a man called Frank Serpico. He was an undercover New York cop who refused bribes unlike other officers. He became a whistleblower and his friends quickly turned on him. He was menaced by the police department for being honest.
Al Pacino performed this role brilliantly, showing the vulnerable and isolated state of Frank in an extremely sublime way.
Donnie Brasco (1997)Source: IMDB
In Mike Newell’s Donne Brasco, Al Pacino plays a gangster once again. The only difference is he plays a low level footsoldier called Lefty, who is based on real life mobster Benjamin ‘Lefty’ Ruggiero. He is constantly disrespected and has no hopes to climb through the ranks of his family. This film shows how unglamourous and sad a gangster’s life can be.
Lefty is the complete opposite of Tony (Scarface), this shows Al Pacino’s extraordinary range.