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The Best Movies All Aspiring Actors Must Watch

Updated December 16, 2020 5.5k votes 845 voters 30.4k 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 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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  • Forrest Gump1
    280
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    Forrest Gump

    Tom Hanks, Sally Field

    Released1994

    Directed byRobert Zemeckis

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  • Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri2
    44
    4

    Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

    Frances McDormand, Woody Harrelson

    Released2017

    Directed byMartin McDonagh

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  • All About Eve3
    72
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    All About Eve

    Marilyn Monroe, Bette Davis

    Released1950

    Directed byJoseph L. Mankiewicz

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  • To Kill a Mockingbird4
    81
    42

    To Kill a Mockingbird

    Robert Duvall, Gregory Peck

    Released1962

    Directed byRobert Mulligan

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  • The Godfather5
    200
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    The Godfather

    Al Pacino, Marlon Brando

    Released1972

    Directed byFrancis Ford Coppola

    The Godfather is a 1972 American crime film directed by Francis Ford Coppola, based on the... more on WikipediaAmazon buy button

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  • The Silence of the Lambs6
    138
    96

    The Silence of the Lambs

    Jodie Foster, Anthony Hopkins

    Released1991

    Directed byJonathan Demme

    The Silence of the Lambs is a 1991 American thriller film that blends elements of the crime... more on WikipediaAmazon buy button

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  • Goodfellas7
    119
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    Goodfellas

    Robert De Niro, Samuel L. Jackson

    Released1990

    Directed byMartin Scorsese

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  • Taxi Driver8
    115
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    Taxi Driver

    Robert De Niro, Jodie Foster

    Released1976

    Directed byMartin Scorsese

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  • Rain Man9
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    Rain Man

    Tom Cruise, Dustin Hoffman

    Released1988

    Directed byBarry Levinson

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  • Silver Linings Playbook10
    37
    5

    Silver Linings Playbook

    Jennifer Lawrence, Robert De Niro

    Released2012

    Directed byDavid O. Russell

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  • Pulp Fiction11
    128
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    Pulp Fiction

    John Travolta, Bruce Willis

    Released1994

    Directed byQuentin Tarantino

    Pulp Fiction is a 1994 American crime film directed by Quentin Tarantino. The lives of two mob... more on WikipediaAmazon buy button
  • The Dark Knight12
    143
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    The Dark Knight

    Christian Bale, Michael Caine

    Released2008

    Directed byChristopher Nolan

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  • Walk the Line13
    70
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    Walk the Line

    Reese Witherspoon, Joaquin Phoenix

    Released2005

    Directed byJames Mangold

    Walk the Line is a 2005 American biographical drama film directed by James Mangold and based... more on WikipediaAmazon buy button
  • The Departed14
    53
    32

    The Departed

    Leonardo DiCaprio, Jack Nicholson

    Released2006

    Directed byMartin Scorsese

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  • Singin' in the Rain15
    71
    53

    Singin' in the Rain

    Debbie Reynolds, Gene Kelly

    Released1952

    Directed byStanley Donen, Gene Kelly

    Singin' in the Rain is a 1952 American musical comedy film directed by Gene Kelly and Stanley... more on WikipediaAmazon buy button

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  • Sophie's Choice16
    52
    32

    Sophie's Choice

    Meryl Streep, Kevin Kline

    Released1982

    Directed byAlan J. Pakula

    Sophie's Choice is a 1982 American drama film directed by Alan J. Pakula, who adapted William... more on WikipediaAmazon buy button
  • Brokeback Mountain17
    56
    38

    Brokeback Mountain

    Anne Hathaway, Jake Gyllenhaal

    Released2005

    Directed byAng Lee

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  • Breakfast at Tiffany's18
    63
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    Breakfast at Tiffany's

    Audrey Hepburn, Mickey Rooney

    Released1961

    Directed byBlake Edwards

    Breakfast at Tiffany's is a 1961 American romantic comedy film starring Audrey Hepburn and... more on WikipediaAmazon buy button
  • Black Swan19
    70
    54

    Black Swan

    Natalie Portman, Mila Kunis

    Released2010

    Directed byDarren Aronofsky

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  • The Devil Wears Prada20
    54
    39

    The Devil Wears Prada

    Anne Hathaway, Heidi Klum

    Released2006

    Directed byDavid Frankel

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  • Dallas Buyers Club21
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    Dallas Buyers Club

    Jennifer Garner, Matthew McConaughey

    Released2013

    Directed byJean-Marc Vallée

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  • Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)22

    Released2014

    Directed byAlejandro González Iñárritu

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  • Requiem for a Dream23
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    Requiem for a Dream

    Jennifer Connelly, Jared Leto

    Released2000

    Directed byDarren Aronofsky

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  • Blazing Saddles24
    30
    16

    Blazing Saddles

    Mel Brooks, Gene Wilder

    Released1974

    Directed byMel Brooks

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  • Tootsie25
    33
    21

    Tootsie

    Bill Murray, Dustin Hoffman

    Released1982

    Directed bySydney Pollack

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