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The Best Movies All Aspiring Actors Must Watch 

Ranker Film
Updated July 5, 2019 2.4k votes 341 voters 22.2k views 66 items

List Rules Vote up the films all aspiring actors must watch.

For actors, watching other people acting is a great way to learn. Anyone in the industry could easily list off the names of the people whose work inspires them. If you dream of making your living performing, here are some movies actors should watch. The films below are full of gripping performances that will help you hone your craft. 

These are movies pretty much everyone in the industry agrees are ideal for teaching aspiring actors how to perform on stage or on set. Movies about acting can certainly help actors and actresses everywhere. Flicks like Birdman and Sunset Boulevard don't just feature gripping performances; they help define how and why people are drawn to the art of acting. However, not all movies for aspiring actors need be about the craft specifically. Films like On the Waterfront and The Silence of the Lamb are revered for containing some of the best performances of all time, so they're truly aspirational material. If you're in need of some acting inspiration, check out some of the films below. 

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1
The Godfather is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best Movies All Aspiring Actors Must Watch
Al Pacino, Marlon Brando, Robert Duvall

Released: 1972

Directed by: Francis Ford Coppola

The Godfather is a 1972 American crime film directed by Francis Ford Coppola, based on the novel by Mario Puzo. The aging patriarch (Marlon Brando) of an organized crime dynasty transfers ...more

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2
Rain Man is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best Movies All Aspiring Actors Must Watch
Tom Cruise, Dustin Hoffman, Valeria Golino

Released: 1988

Directed by: Barry Levinson

Rain Man is a 1988 American drama film directed by Barry Levinson and written by Barry Morrow and Ronald Bass. It tells the story of an abrasive and selfish yuppie, Charlie Babbitt, who ...more

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#59 of 571 The Greatest Movies Of The 1980s, Ranked #259 of 1,699 The Most Rewatchable Movieslisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

3
Taxi Driver is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best Movies All Aspiring Actors Must Watch
Robert De Niro, Jodie Foster, Martin Scorsese

Released: 1976

Directed by: Martin Scorsese

Taxi Driver is a 1976 American neo-noir psychological thriller film directed by Martin Scorsese and written by Paul Schrader. Set in New York City soon after the end of the Vietnam War, the film ...more

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12 Behind-The-Scenes Stories From 'Taxi Driver' That Are As Wild As The Film Itself #29 of 250 The Best Psychological Thrillers of All Time #691 of 1,699 The Most Rewatchable Movies

4
Goodfellas is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best Movies All Aspiring Actors Must Watch
Robert De Niro, Samuel L. Jackson, Joe Pesci

Released: 1990

Directed by: Martin Scorsese

Goodfellas is a 1990 American crime film directed by Martin Scorsese. It is a film adaptation of the 1986 non-fiction book Wiseguy by Nicholas Pileggi, who co-wrote the screenplay with Scorsese. ...more

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15 Behind-The-Scenes Stories From The Making Of 'Goodfellas' #95 of 349 'Old' Movies Every Young Person Needs To Watch In Their Lifetimelisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

5
The Dark Knight is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best Movies All Aspiring Actors Must Watch
Christian Bale, Michael Caine, Heath Ledger

Released: 2008

Directed by: Christopher Nolan

The Dark Knight is a 2008 superhero film directed by Christopher Nolan, based on the DC Comics character, Batman. Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale), Police Lieutenant James Gordon (Gary Oldman) and ...more

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6
The Silence of the Lambs... is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best Movies All Aspiring Actors Must Watch
Jodie Foster, Anthony Hopkins, Chris Isaak

Released: 1991

Directed by: Jonathan Demme

The Silence of the Lambs is a 1991 American thriller film that blends elements of the crime and horror genres. Directed by Jonathan Demme and starring Jodie Foster, Anthony Hopkins, and Scott ...more

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7
Pulp Fiction is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best Movies All Aspiring Actors Must Watch
John Travolta, Bruce Willis, Uma Thurman

Released: 1994

Directed by: Quentin Tarantino

Pulp Fiction is a 1994 American crime film directed by Quentin Tarantino. The lives of two mob hitmen (Samuel L. Jackson and John Travolta), a boxer (Bruce Willis), a gangster's wife (Uma ...more

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8
Black Swan is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best Movies All Aspiring Actors Must Watch
Natalie Portman, Mila Kunis, Winona Ryder

Released: 2010

Directed by: Darren Aronofsky

Black Swan is a 2010 American psychological thriller-horror film directed by Darren Aronofsky and starring Natalie Portman, Vincent Cassel, and Mila Kunis. The plot revolves around a production ...more

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#311 of 377 The Best Musical Movies of All Time #19 of 250 The Best Psychological Thrillers of All Time #671 of 1,699 The Most Rewatchable Movies

9
Singin' in the Rain is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best Movies All Aspiring Actors Must Watch
Debbie Reynolds, Gene Kelly, Rita Moreno

Released: 1952

Directed by: Stanley Donen, Gene Kelly

Singin' in the Rain is a 1952 American musical comedy film directed by Gene Kelly and Stanley Donen, starring Kelly, Donald O'Connor and Debbie Reynolds, and choreographed by Kelly and Donen. It ...more

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10
Walk the Line is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best Movies All Aspiring Actors Must Watch
Reese Witherspoon, Joaquin Phoenix, Ginnifer Goodwin

Released: 2005

Directed by: James Mangold

Walk the Line is a 2005 American biographical drama film directed by James Mangold and based on the early life and career of country music artist Johnny Cash. The film stars Joaquin Phoenix, ...more

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11
To Kill a Mockingbird is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best Movies All Aspiring Actors Must Watch
Robert Duvall, Gregory Peck, William Windom

Released: 1962

Directed by: Robert Mulligan

To Kill a Mockingbird is a 1962 American drama film directed by Robert Mulligan. The screenplay by Horton Foote was based on the 1960 Pulitzer Prize-winning novel of the same name by Harper Lee. ...more

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12
Birdman is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best Movies All Aspiring Actors Must Watch
Emma Stone, Naomi Watts, Edward Norton

Released: 2014

Directed by: Alejandro González Iñárritu

Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance), commonly referred to as Birdman, is a 2014 American black comedy-drama film co-written, produced, and directed by Alejandro González ...more

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13
Breakfast at Tiffany's ... is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best Movies All Aspiring Actors Must Watch
Audrey Hepburn, Mickey Rooney, Mel Blanc

Released: 1961

Directed by: Blake Edwards

Breakfast at Tiffany's is a 1961 American romantic comedy film starring Audrey Hepburn and George Peppard, and featuring Patricia Neal, Buddy Ebsen, Martin Balsam, and Mickey Rooney. The film ...more

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14
Requiem for a Dream is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best Movies All Aspiring Actors Must Watch
Jennifer Connelly, Jared Leto, Ellen Burstyn

Released: 2000

Directed by: Darren Aronofsky

Requiem for a Dream is a 2000 American psychological drama film directed by Darren Aronofsky and starring Ellen Burstyn, Jared Leto, Jennifer Connelly, and Marlon Wayans. The film is based on ...more

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15
Brokeback Mountain is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best Movies All Aspiring Actors Must Watch
Anne Hathaway, Jake Gyllenhaal, Kate Mara

Released: 2005

Directed by: Ang Lee

Brokeback Mountain is a 2005 American epic romantic drama film directed by Ang Lee. It is a film adaptation of the 1997 short story of the same name by Annie Proulx; the screenplay was written ...more

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16
Dallas Buyers Club is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best Movies All Aspiring Actors Must Watch
Jennifer Garner, Matthew McConaughey, Jared Leto

Released: 2013

Directed by: Jean-Marc Vallée

Dallas Buyers Club is a 2013 American biographical drama film, co-written by Craig Borten and Melisa Wallack, directed by Jean-Marc Vallée. Ron Woodroof was an AIDS patient diagnosed in ...more

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17
All About Eve is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best Movies All Aspiring Actors Must Watch
Marilyn Monroe, Bette Davis, Anne Baxter

Released: 1950

Directed by: Joseph L. Mankiewicz

All About Eve is a 1950 American drama film written and directed by Joseph L. Mankiewicz, and produced by Darryl F. Zanuck. It was based on the 1946 short story "The Wisdom of Eve" by ...more

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18
Sophie's Choice is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best Movies All Aspiring Actors Must Watch
Meryl Streep, Kevin Kline, Peter MacNicol

Released: 1982

Directed by: Alan J. Pakula

Sophie's Choice is a 1982 American drama film directed by Alan J. Pakula, who adapted William Styron's novel of the same name. Meryl Streep stars as Sophie, a Polish immigrant who shares a ...more

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19
Fargo is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best Movies All Aspiring Actors Must Watch
Steve Buscemi, William H. Macy, Frances McDormand

Released: 1996

Directed by: Ethan Coen, Joel Coen

Fargo is a 1996 American neo-noir dark comedy crime film written, produced, edited, and directed by Joel and Ethan Coen. It stars Frances McDormand as a pregnant Minnesota police chief who ...more

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20
The Departed is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best Movies All Aspiring Actors Must Watch
bradytwinsor added Leonardo DiCaprio, Jack Nicholson, Alec Baldwin

Released: 2006

Directed by: Martin Scorsese

The Departed is a 2006 American crime drama film directed by Martin Scorsese, and a remake of the 2002 Hong Kong film Infernal Affairs. Irish Mob boss Francis "Frank" Costello (Jack ...more

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21
A Streetcar Named Desire... is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best Movies All Aspiring Actors Must Watch
Marlon Brando, Vivien Leigh, Karl Malden

Released: 1951

Directed by: Elia Kazan

A Streetcar Named Desire is a 1951 American drama film adaptation of Tennessee Williams's Pulitzer Prize-winning 1947 play of the same name. It is the story of a southern lady, Blanche Dubois, ...more

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22
Sunset Boulevard is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best Movies All Aspiring Actors Must Watch
William Holden, Buster Keaton, Gloria Swanson

Released: 1950

Directed by: Billy Wilder

Sunset Boulevard—stylized onscreen as SUNSET BLVD.—is a 1950 American film noir directed and co-written by Billy Wilder, and produced and co-written by Charles Brackett. It was named after the ...more

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23
Coal Miner's Daughter is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best Movies All Aspiring Actors Must Watch
Tommy Lee Jones, Sissy Spacek, Beverly DAngelo

Released: 1980

Directed by: Michael Apted

Coal Miner's Daughter is a 1980 biographical film which tells the story of country music legendary singer Loretta Lynn. It stars Sissy Spacek as Loretta, a role that earned her the Academy Award ...more

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24
Who's Afraid of Virginia... is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best Movies All Aspiring Actors Must Watch
Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton, George Segal

Released: 1966

Directed by: Mike Nichols

Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? is a 1966 American black comedy-drama film directed by Mike Nichols. The screenplay by Ernest Lehman is an adaptation of the play of the same title by Edward ...more

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25
Lady Bird is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best Movies All Aspiring Actors Must Watch
Saoirse Ronan, Laurie Metcalf, Tracy Letts

Released: 2017

Directed by: Greta Gerwig

Lady Bird is a 2017 American comedy-drama film directed by Greta Gerwig. The adventures of a young woman (Saoirse Ronan) living in Northern California for a year.

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