Best Movies The Best Movies All Aspiring Actors Must Watch  

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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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Goodfellas is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best Movies All Aspiring Actors Must Watch
Goodfellas Robert De Niro, Samuel L. Jackson, Joe Pesci 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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The Godfather is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best Movies All Aspiring Actors Must Watch
The Godfather Al Pacino, Marlon Brando, Robert Duvall The Godfather is a 1972 American crime film directed by Francis Ford Coppola and produced by Albert S. Ruddy from a screenplay by Mario Puzo and Coppola. Starring Marlon Brando and Al Pacino as ...more

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Pulp Fiction is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best Movies All Aspiring Actors Must Watch
Pulp Fiction John Travolta, Bruce Willis, Uma Thurman Pulp Fiction is a 1994 American black comedy crime film written and directed by Quentin Tarantino, from a story by Tarantino and Roger Avary. The film is known for its eclectic dialogue, ironic ...more

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The Silence of the Lambs is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best Movies All Aspiring Actors Must Watch
The Silence of the Lambs Jodie Foster, Anthony Hopkins, Chris Isaak 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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Rain Man is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best Movies All Aspiring Actors Must Watch
Rain Man Tom Cruise, Dustin Hoffman, Valeria Golino 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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Walk the Line is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best Movies All Aspiring Actors Must Watch
Walk the Line Reese Witherspoon, Joaquin Phoenix, Ginnifer Goodwin 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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Fargo is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best Movies All Aspiring Actors Must Watch
Fargo Steve Buscemi, William H. Macy, Frances McDormand 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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To Kill a Mockingbird is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best Movies All Aspiring Actors Must Watch
To Kill a Mockingbird Robert Duvall, Gregory Peck, William Windom 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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Black Swan is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best Movies All Aspiring Actors Must Watch
Black Swan Natalie Portman, Mila Kunis, Winona Ryder 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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Requiem for a Dream is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best Movies All Aspiring Actors Must Watch
Requiem for a Dream Jennifer Connelly, Jared Leto, Ellen Burstyn 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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Taxi Driver is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best Movies All Aspiring Actors Must Watch
Taxi Driver Robert De Niro, Jodie Foster, 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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Breakfast at Tiffany's is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best Movies All Aspiring Actors Must Watch
Breakfast at Tiffany's Audrey Hepburn, Mickey Rooney, Mel Blanc 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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The Dark Knight is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best Movies All Aspiring Actors Must Watch
The Dark Knight Christian Bale, Michael Caine, Heath Ledger The Dark Knight is a 2008 superhero film directed by Christopher Nolan, based on the DC Comics character. Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale), Police Lieutenant James Gordon (Gary Oldman) and District ...more

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Sophie's Choice is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best Movies All Aspiring Actors Must Watch
Sophie's Choice Meryl Streep, Kevin Kline, Peter MacNicol 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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Singin' in the Rain is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best Movies All Aspiring Actors Must Watch
Singin' in the Rain Debbie Reynolds, Gene Kelly, Rita Moreno 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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Man on the Moon is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best Movies All Aspiring Actors Must Watch
Man on the Moon Courtney Love, Jim Carrey, Danny DeVito Man on the Moon is a 1999 American biographical comedy–drama film about the late American entertainer Andy Kaufman, starring Jim Carrey. The film was directed by Miloš Forman and also features ...more

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Dallas Buyers Club is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best Movies All Aspiring Actors Must Watch
Dallas Buyers Club Jennifer Garner, Matthew McConaughey, Jared Leto 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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Pirates of the Caribbean: The ... is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best Movies All Aspiring Actors Must Watch
Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl Johnny Depp, Keira Knightley, Zoe Saldana Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl is a 2003 American fantasy swashbuckler film based on the Pirates of the Caribbean ride at Disney theme parks. It was directed by Gore ...more

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Coal Miner's Daughter is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best Movies All Aspiring Actors Must Watch
Coal Miner's Daughter Tommy Lee Jones, Sissy Spacek, Beverly DAngelo 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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Being John Malkovich is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best Movies All Aspiring Actors Must Watch
Being John Malkovich Cameron Diaz, Brad Pitt, Charlie Sheen Being John Malkovich is a 1999 American fantasy comedy film written by Charlie Kaufman and directed by Spike Jonze. It stars John Cusack, Cameron Diaz and Catherine Keener, with John Malkovich ...more

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All About Eve is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best Movies All Aspiring Actors Must Watch
All About Eve Marilyn Monroe, Bette Davis, Anne Baxter 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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A Streetcar Named Desire is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best Movies All Aspiring Actors Must Watch
A Streetcar Named Desire Marlon Brando, Vivien Leigh, Karl Malden 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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Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf... is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best Movies All Aspiring Actors Must Watch
Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton, George Segal 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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Butch Cassidy and the Sundance... is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best Movies All Aspiring Actors Must Watch
Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid Paul Newman, Robert Redford, Cloris Leachman Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid is a 1969 American Western film directed by George Roy Hill and written by William Goldman. Based loosely on fact, the film tells the story of Wild West ...more

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Birdman is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best Movies All Aspiring Actors Must Watch
Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) Emma Stone, Naomi Watts, Edward Norton Birdman or, commonly referred to as Birdman, is a 2014 American black comedy-drama film co-written, produced, and directed by Alejandro González Iñárritu. It stars Michael ...more

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A Fish Called Wanda is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Best Movies All Aspiring Actors Must Watch
A Fish Called Wanda Jamie Lee Curtis, Kevin Kline, Stephen Fry A Fish Called Wanda is a 1988 heist-comedy film written by John Cleese and Charles Crichton. It was directed by Crichton and stars Cleese, Jamie Lee Curtis, Kevin Kline, and Michael Palin. Kline ...more

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The Royal Tenenbaums is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Best Movies All Aspiring Actors Must Watch
The Royal Tenenbaums Gwyneth Paltrow, Alec Baldwin, Bill Murray The Royal Tenenbaums is a 2001 American comedy-drama film directed by Wes Anderson and co-written with Owen Wilson. The film stars Gene Hackman, Anjelica Huston, Bill Murray, Gwyneth Paltrow, ...more

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The Philadelphia Story is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Best Movies All Aspiring Actors Must Watch
The Philadelphia Story Katharine Hepburn, Cary Grant, James Stewart The Philadelphia Story is a 1940 American romantic comedy film directed by George Cukor, starring Cary Grant, Katharine Hepburn, and James Stewart and featuring Ruth Hussey. Based on the ...more

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My Left Foot is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Best Movies All Aspiring Actors Must Watch
My Left Foot Daniel Day-Lewis, Fiona Shaw, Brenda Fricker My Left Foot: The Story of Christy Brown is a 1989 Irish drama film directed by Jim Sheridan and starring Daniel Day-Lewis. It tells the story of Christy Brown, an Irishman born with cerebral ...more

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Sunset Boulevard is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Best Movies All Aspiring Actors Must Watch
Sunset Boulevard William Holden, Buster Keaton, Gloria Swanson 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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Bonnie and Clyde is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Best Movies All Aspiring Actors Must Watch
Bonnie and Clyde Gene Hackman, Faye Dunaway, Gene Wilder Bonnie and Clyde is a 1967 American biographical crime film directed by Arthur Penn and starring Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway as the title characters Clyde Barrow and Bonnie Parker. The film ...more

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Cinema Paradiso is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Best Movies All Aspiring Actors Must Watch
Cinema Paradiso Brigitte Bardot, John Wayne, Charlie Chaplin Nuovo Cinema Paradiso, internationally released as Cinema Paradiso, is a 1988 Italian drama film written and directed by Giuseppe Tornatore. The film stars Jacques Perrin, Philippe Noiret, ...more

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Being There is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Best Movies All Aspiring Actors Must Watch
Being There Shirley MacLaine, Peter Sellers, Jack Warden Being There is a 1979 American comedy-drama film directed by Hal Ashby. Adapted from the 1970 novella by Jerzy Kosinski, the screenplay was written by Kosinski and the uncredited Robert C. ...more

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Midnight Cowboy is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Best Movies All Aspiring Actors Must Watch
Midnight Cowboy Dustin Hoffman, Jon Voight, Bob Balaban Midnight Cowboy is a 1969 American drama film based on the 1965 novel of the same name by James Leo Herlihy. The script was written by Waldo Salt, directed by John Schlesinger, and stars Jon ...more

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Brokeback Mountain is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Best Movies All Aspiring Actors Must Watch
Brokeback Mountain Anne Hathaway, Jake Gyllenhaal, Kate Mara 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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The Disaster Artist is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Best Movies All Aspiring Actors Must Watch
The Disaster Artist James Franco, Dave Franco, Seth Rogen The Disaster Artist is a 2017 American biographical comedy-drama film directed by James Franco. The film depicts the early friendship of Greg Sestero (Dave Franco) and Tommy Wiseau (James ...more

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On the Waterfront is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Best Movies All Aspiring Actors Must Watch
On the Waterfront Marlon Brando, Eva Marie Saint, Rod Steiger On the Waterfront is a 1954 American crime drama film about union violence and corruption amongst longshoremen. The film was directed by Elia Kazan and written by Budd Schulberg. It stars Marlon ...more

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The Artist is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Best Movies All Aspiring Actors Must Watch
The Artist John Goodman, Malcolm McDowell, James Cromwell The Artist is a 2011 French romantic comedy-drama in the style of a black-and-white silent film. It was written, directed, and co-edited by Michel Hazanavicius, produced by Thomas Langmann and ...more

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The Fisher King is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Best Movies All Aspiring Actors Must Watch
The Fisher King Robin Williams, Jeff Bridges, Tom Waits The Fisher King is a 1991 American comedy-drama film written by Richard LaGravenese and directed by Terry Gilliam. It stars Robin Williams and Jeff Bridges, with Mercedes Ruehl, Amanda Plummer, ...more

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Dog Day Afternoon is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Best Movies All Aspiring Actors Must Watch
Dog Day Afternoon Al Pacino, Carol Kane, Charles Durning Dog Day Afternoon is a 1975 American crime drama film directed by Sidney Lumet, written by Frank Pierson, and produced by Martin Bregman and Martin Elfand. The film stars Al Pacino, John Cazale, ...more

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The Hustler is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Best Movies All Aspiring Actors Must Watch
The Hustler Paul Newman, Jackie Gleason, George C. Scott The Hustler is a 1961 American drama film directed by Robert Rossen from the Walter Tevis's 1959 novel of the same name Rossen and Sidney Carroll adapted for the screen. It tells the story of ...more

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La Vie en rose is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Best Movies All Aspiring Actors Must Watch
La Vie en rose Marion Cotillard, Gérard Depardieu, Emmanuelle Seigner La Vie en Rose released in France as La Môme, is a 2007 French and Canadian biographical musical film about the life of French singer Édith Piaf co-written, and directed by Olivier ...more

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Wedding Crashers is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Best Movies All Aspiring Actors Must Watch
Wedding Crashers Rachel McAdams, Bradley Cooper, Isla Fisher Wedding Crashers is a 2005 American romantic comedy film directed by David Dobkin. It stars Owen Wilson, Vince Vaughn, and Christopher Walken. Will Ferrell also has a notable cameo appearance. ...more

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Tootsie is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Best Movies All Aspiring Actors Must Watch
Tootsie Bill Murray, Dustin Hoffman, Geena Davis Tootsie is a 1982 American comedy-drama film that tells the story of a talented but volatile actor whose reputation for being difficult forces him to adopt a new identity as a woman to land a ...more

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Mulholland Drive is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Best Movies All Aspiring Actors Must Watch
Mulholland Drive Naomi Watts, Billy Ray Cyrus, Melissa George Mulholland Drive is a 2001 American neo-noir mystery film written and directed by David Lynch and starring Naomi Watts, Laura Harring, and Justin Theroux. It tells the story of an aspiring ...more

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Magnolia is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Best Movies All Aspiring Actors Must Watch
Magnolia Tom Cruise, Julianne Moore, Philip Seymour Hoffman Magnolia is a 1999 American drama film written, produced, and directed by Paul Thomas Anderson and starring Jeremy Blackman, Tom Cruise, Philip Baker Hall, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Ricky Jay, ...more

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Adaptation is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Best Movies All Aspiring Actors Must Watch
Adaptation Nicolas Cage, Meryl Streep, Maggie Gyllenhaal Adaptation. is a 2002 American comedy-drama metafilm directed by Spike Jonze and written by Charlie Kaufman. The film is based on Susan Orlean's non-fiction book The Orchid Thief, with numerous ...more

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Waiting for Guffman is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Best Movies All Aspiring Actors Must Watch
Waiting for Guffman David Cross, Parker Posey, Catherine O'Hara Waiting for Guffman is a comedy in the documentary style starring, co-written and directed by Christopher Guest that was released in 1997. Its cast included Catherine O'Hara, Eugene Levy, Fred ...more

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Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymor... is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Best Movies All Aspiring Actors Must Watch
Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore Jodie Foster, Kris Kristofferson, Laura Dern Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore is a 1974 American comedy-drama film directed by Martin Scorsese and written by Robert Getchell. It stars Ellen Burstyn as a widow who travels with her preteen ...more

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Murder on the Orient Express is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Best Movies All Aspiring Actors Must Watch
Murder on the Orient Express Sean Connery, Ingrid Bergman, Lauren Bacall Murder on the Orient Express is a 1974 British Technicolor mystery film directed by Sidney Lumet, starring Albert Finney as Hercule Poirot, and based on the 1934 novel Murder on the Orient ...more