Entertainment
944 voters

The Best Movies All Aspiring Actors Must Watch

Updated March 1, 2021 5.8k votes 944 voters 35.1k views121 items

List RulesVote 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 struggling actors or 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. 

Photo:
...more
  • 1
    325
    5

    Forrest Gump

    Tom Hanks, Sally Field

    Released1994

    Directed byRobert Zemeckis

    More Forrest Gump 

    16 Extremely Messed Up Things About Forrest Gump That'll Change How You See It#1 of 50 The 50 Highest Grossing '90s Movies, Ranked

  • 2
    135
    81

    Goodfellas

    Robert De Niro, Samuel L. Jackson

    Released1990

    Directed byMartin Scorsese

    More Goodfellas 

    15 Behind-The-Scenes Stories From The Making Of 'Goodfellas'#507 of 1,195 Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

  • 3
    89
    42

    To Kill a Mockingbird

    Robert Duvall, Gregory Peck

    Released1962

    Directed byRobert Mulligan

    More To Kill a Mockingbird 

    'To Kill a Mockingbird' Quotes That'll Change How You Think#96 of 668 The Best Black Movies Ever Made, Ranked

  • 4
    151
    97

    The Silence of the Lambs

    Jodie Foster, Anthony Hopkins

    Released1991

    Directed byJonathan Demme

    More The Silence of the Lambs 

    You've Been Watching Silence Of The Lambs Wrong For Years: It's A Comedy#1 of 232 The Best Psychological Thrillers of All Time

  • 5
    208
    152

    The Godfather

    Al Pacino, Marlon Brando

    Released1972

    Directed byFrancis Ford Coppola

    More The Godfather 

    How 'The Godfather' Became An American Classic Even Though It Was 'Nightmarish' Behind The Scenes#18 of 46 Movies That Won Best Picture at the Oscars and Golden Globes

  • 6
    54
    14

    Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

    Frances McDormand, Woody Harrelson

    Released2017

    Directed byMartin McDonagh

    More Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri 

    #15 of 97 The Best Movies of 2017, Ranked#18 of 50 The Best Comedy Movies of 2017

  • 7
    130
    88

    Rain Man

    Tom Cruise, Dustin Hoffman

    Released1988

    Directed byBarry Levinson

    More Rain Man 

    #4 of 50 The Best Oscar-Nominated Movies of the '80s#72 of 277 The Top Tearjerker Movies That Make Men Cry

  • 8
    137
    99

    Pulp Fiction

    John Travolta, Bruce Willis

    Released1994

    Directed byQuentin Tarantino

    More Pulp Fiction 

    12 Behind-The-Scenes Stories From 'Pulp Fiction'#73 of 863 The Best Albums of the 1990s

  • 9
    116
    80

    Taxi Driver

    Robert De Niro, Jodie Foster

    Released1976

    Directed byMartin Scorsese

    More Taxi Driver 

    12 Behind-The-Scenes Stories From 'Taxi Driver' That Are As Wild As The Film Itself#9 of 69 The Best Movies About Incels

  • 10
    71
    37

    All About Eve

    Marilyn Monroe, Bette Davis

    Released1950

    Directed byJoseph L. Mankiewicz

    More All About Eve 

    #52 of 675 The Best Movies Roger Ebert Gave Four Stars#486 of 1,141 The Absolute Funniest Movies Of All Time

  • 11
    78
    46

    Walk the Line

    Reese Witherspoon, Joaquin Phoenix

    Released2005

    Directed byJames Mangold

    More Walk the Line 

    #374 of 549 The Greatest Epic Movies Ever Made#86 of 122 Great Movies That Place In The '60s

  • 12
    42
    12

    Silver Linings Playbook

    Jennifer Lawrence, Robert De Niro

    Released2012

    Directed byDavid O. Russell

    More Silver Linings Playbook 

    #3 of 22 The Best Movies Coming to Netflix in June 2021#158 of 175 Movies That Should Be Made Into Broadway Musicals

  • 13
    151
    120

    The Dark Knight

    Christian Bale, Michael Caine

    Released2008

    Directed byChristopher Nolan

    More The Dark Knight 

    Fan Theories About 'The Dark Knight' That Actually Make A Lot Of Sense#5 of 92 The Most Rewatchable Action Movies

  • 14
    63
    35

    The Departed

    Leonardo DiCaprio, Jack Nicholson

    Released2006

    Directed byMartin Scorsese

    More The Departed 

    All The Evidence Matt Damon's Character In The Departed Is Secretly Gay#21 of 90 The Best Movies That Are Super Long

  • 15
    58
    32

    Sophie's Choice

    Meryl Streep, Kevin Kline

    Released1982

    Directed byAlan J. Pakula

    More Sophie's Choice 

    #52 of 63 Movies Set in Brooklyn#43 of 48 Great Romance Movies Set During World War II

  • 16
    73
    56

    Black Swan

    Natalie Portman, Mila Kunis

    Released2010

    Directed byDarren Aronofsky

    More Black Swan 

    #4 of 10 10 Hidden Messages In Well-Known Films You Probably Missed#36 of 170 The Best and Scariest Psychological Thrillers of All Time

  • 17
    60
    42

    The Devil Wears Prada

    Anne Hathaway, Heidi Klum

    Released2006

    Directed byDavid Frankel

    More The Devil Wears Prada 

    #53 of 386 The Best Movies Based On Books#5 of 783 The Greatest Chick Flicks Ever Made

  • 18
    70
    55

    Singin' in the Rain

    Debbie Reynolds, Gene Kelly

    Released1952

    Directed byStanley Donen, Gene Kelly

    More Singin' in the Rain 

    Every Song in Singin' in the Rain, Ranked by Singability#4 of 110 The Best Dance Movies Ever Made

  • 19
    35
    17

    Blazing Saddles

    Mel Brooks, Gene Wilder

    Released1974

    Directed byMel Brooks

    More Blazing Saddles 

    #11 of 552 The Best '70s Movies#34 of 451 The Best Movies For Guys

  • 20
    62
    49

    Breakfast at Tiffany's

    Audrey Hepburn, Mickey Rooney

    Released1961

    Directed byBlake Edwards

    More Breakfast at Tiffany's 

    #8 of 14 Movies That Threw Book Endings Out The Window Completely#43 of 306 The Greatest Movie Themes

  • 21
    55
    43

    Brokeback Mountain

    Anne Hathaway, Jake Gyllenhaal

    Released2005

    Directed byAng Lee

    More Brokeback Mountain 

    #40 of 174 The Most Utterly Depressing Movies Ever Made#344 of 401 The Best Western Movies Ever Made

  • 22
    53
    43

    Dallas Buyers Club

    Jennifer Garner, Matthew McConaughey

    Released2013

    Directed byJean-Marc Vallée

    More Dallas Buyers Club 

    #43 of 139 The Best Movies You Never Want to Watch Again#6 of 21 Movies With Places In The Title That Weren't Actually Shot There

  • 23

    Released2014

    Directed byAlejandro González Iñárritu

    More Birdman 

    #60 of 93 The Very Best Oscar-Winning Movies For Best Picture#55 of 135 The Most Confusing Movies Ever Made

  • 24
    41
    31

    Coal Miner's Daughter

    Tommy Lee Jones, Sissy Spacek

    Released1980

    Directed byMichael Apted

    More Coal Miner's Daughter 

    #185 of 512 The Greatest Movies Of The 1980s, Ranked#232 of 375 'Old' Movies Every Young Person Needs To Watch In Their Lifetime

  • 25
    43
    34

    A Streetcar Named Desire

    Marlon Brando, Vivien Leigh

    Released1951

    Directed byElia Kazan

    More A Streetcar Named Desire 

    #1 of 136 The Best Movies Based On Plays#32 of 225 The Best Black and White Movies Ever Made