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The Best Movies All Aspiring Actors Must Watch  

Ranker Film
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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. 

list ordered by
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
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
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
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
3
Goodfellas is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best Movies All Aspiring Actors Must Watch
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
4
Taxi Driver is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best Movies All Aspiring Actors Must Watch
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
5
Black Swan is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best Movies All Aspiring Actors Must Watch
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
6
Singin' in the Rain is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best Movies All Aspiring Actors Must Watch
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
7
To Kill a Mockingbird is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best Movies All Aspiring Actors Must Watch
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
8
All About Eve is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best Movies All Aspiring Actors Must Watch
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
9
Breakfast at Tiffany's is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best Movies All Aspiring Actors Must Watch
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
10
Requiem for a Dream is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best Movies All Aspiring Actors Must Watch
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
11
Sophie's Choice is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best Movies All Aspiring Actors Must Watch
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
12
Walk the Line is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best Movies All Aspiring Actors Must Watch
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
13
Birdman is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best Movies All Aspiring Actors Must Watch
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
14
The Dark Knight is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best Movies All Aspiring Actors Must Watch
Christian Bale, Michael Caine, Heath Ledger
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
15
The Silence of the Lambs is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best Movies All Aspiring Actors Must Watch
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
16
Brokeback Mountain is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best Movies All Aspiring Actors Must Watch
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
17
Sunset Boulevard is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best Movies All Aspiring Actors Must Watch
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
18
Dallas Buyers Club is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best Movies All Aspiring Actors Must Watch
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
22
Pulp Fiction is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best Movies All Aspiring Actors Must Watch
John Travolta, Bruce Willis, Uma Thurman
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
23
Blazing Saddles is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best Movies All Aspiring Actors Must Watch
Gordon Keller added Mel Brooks, Gene Wilder, Anne Bancroft
Blazing Saddles is a 1974 satirical Western comedy film directed by Mel Brooks. Starring Cleavon Little and Gene Wilder, the film was written by Brooks, Andrew Bergman, Richard Pryor, Norman ...more
24
Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf... is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best Movies All Aspiring Actors Must Watch
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
25
Coal Miner's Daughter is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best Movies All Aspiring Actors Must Watch
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