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The Best Movies All Aspiring Actors Must Watch

Updated December 16, 2020 5.5k votes 878 voters 31.7k 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
    292
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    Forrest Gump

    Tom Hanks, Sally Field

    Released1994

    Directed byRobert Zemeckis

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  • Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri2
    47
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    Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

    Frances McDormand, Woody Harrelson

    Released2017

    Directed byMartin McDonagh

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  • The Silence of the Lambs3
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    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
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  • To Kill a Mockingbird4
    82
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    To Kill a Mockingbird

    Robert Duvall, Gregory Peck

    Released1962

    Directed byRobert Mulligan

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  • All About Eve5
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    All About Eve

    Marilyn Monroe, Bette Davis

    Released1950

    Directed byJoseph L. Mankiewicz

    All About Eve is a 1950 American drama film written and directed by Joseph L. Mankiewicz, and...  more
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  • Goodfellas6
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    Goodfellas

    Robert De Niro, Samuel L. Jackson

    Released1990

    Directed byMartin Scorsese

    Goodfellas is a 1990 American crime film directed by Martin Scorsese. It is a film adaptation...  more
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  • The Godfather7
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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
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  • Rain Man8
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    Rain Man

    Tom Cruise, Dustin Hoffman

    Released1988

    Directed byBarry Levinson

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  • Taxi Driver9
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    Taxi Driver

    Robert De Niro, Jodie Foster

    Released1976

    Directed byMartin Scorsese

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  • Silver Linings Playbook10
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    Silver Linings Playbook

    Jennifer Lawrence, Robert De Niro

    Released2012

    Directed byDavid O. Russell

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  • Pulp Fiction11
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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
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  • The Dark Knight12
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    The Dark Knight

    Christian Bale, Michael Caine

    Released2008

    Directed byChristopher Nolan

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  • Walk the Line13
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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
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  • The Departed14
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    The Departed

    Leonardo DiCaprio, Jack Nicholson

    Released2006

    Directed byMartin Scorsese

    The Departed is a 2006 American crime drama film directed by Martin Scorsese, and a remake of...  more
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  • Sophie's Choice15
    52
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    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
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  • Singin' in the Rain16
    70
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    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
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  • Breakfast at Tiffany's17
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    Breakfast at Tiffany's

    Audrey Hepburn, Mickey Rooney

    Released1961

    Directed byBlake Edwards

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  • Black Swan18
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    Black Swan

    Natalie Portman, Mila Kunis

    Released2010

    Directed byDarren Aronofsky

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  • The Devil Wears Prada19
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    The Devil Wears Prada

    Anne Hathaway, Heidi Klum

    Released2006

    Directed byDavid Frankel

    The Devil Wears Prada is a 2006 comedy-drama film based on Lauren Weisberger's 2003 novel of...  more
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  • Brokeback Mountain20
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    Brokeback Mountain

    Anne Hathaway, Jake Gyllenhaal

    Released2005

    Directed byAng Lee

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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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  • Blazing Saddles22
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    Blazing Saddles

    Mel Brooks, Gene Wilder

    Released1974

    Directed byMel Brooks

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  • Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)23

    Released2014

    Directed byAlejandro González Iñárritu

    Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance), commonly referred to as Birdman, is a 2014...  more
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  • Tootsie24
    34
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    Tootsie

    Bill Murray, Dustin Hoffman

    Released1982

    Directed bySydney Pollack

    Tootsie is a 1982 American comedy-drama film that tells the story of a talented but volatile...  more
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  • Requiem for a Dream25
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    Requiem for a Dream

    Jennifer Connelly, Jared Leto

    Released2000

    Directed byDarren Aronofsky

    Requiem for a Dream is a 2000 American psychological drama film directed by Darren Aronofsky...  more
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