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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. 

  • Forrest Gump1

    Forrest Gump

    Tom Hanks, Sally Field


    Directed byRobert Zemeckis

    Forrest Gump is a 1994 American epic romantic-comedy-drama film based on the 1986 novel of the...  more
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  • Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri2

    Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

    Frances McDormand, Woody Harrelson


    Directed byMartin McDonagh

    Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri is a 2017 American drama film directed by Martin...  more
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  • The Silence of the Lambs3

    The Silence of the Lambs

    Jodie Foster, Anthony Hopkins


    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

    To Kill a Mockingbird

    Robert Duvall, Gregory Peck


    Directed byRobert Mulligan

    To Kill a Mockingbird is a 1962 American drama film directed by Robert Mulligan. The...  more
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  • All About Eve5

    All About Eve

    Marilyn Monroe, Bette Davis


    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


    Robert De Niro, Samuel L. Jackson


    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

    The Godfather

    Al Pacino, Marlon Brando


    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

    Rain Man

    Tom Cruise, Dustin Hoffman


    Directed byBarry Levinson

    Rain Man is a 1988 American drama film directed by Barry Levinson and written by Barry Morrow...  more
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  • Taxi Driver9

    Taxi Driver

    Robert De Niro, Jodie Foster


    Directed byMartin Scorsese

    Taxi Driver is a 1976 American neo-noir psychological thriller film directed by Martin...  more
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  • Silver Linings Playbook10

    Silver Linings Playbook

    Jennifer Lawrence, Robert De Niro


    Directed byDavid O. Russell

    Silver Linings Playbook is a 2012 American romantic comedy-drama film written and directed by...  more
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  • Pulp Fiction11

    Pulp Fiction

    John Travolta, Bruce Willis


    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

    The Dark Knight

    Christian Bale, Michael Caine


    Directed byChristopher Nolan

    The Dark Knight is a 2008 superhero film directed by Christopher Nolan, based on the DC Comics...  more
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  • Walk the Line13

    Walk the Line

    Reese Witherspoon, Joaquin Phoenix


    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

    The Departed

    Leonardo DiCaprio, Jack Nicholson


    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

    Sophie's Choice

    Meryl Streep, Kevin Kline


    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

    Singin' in the Rain

    Debbie Reynolds, Gene Kelly


    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

    Breakfast at Tiffany's

    Audrey Hepburn, Mickey Rooney


    Directed byBlake Edwards

    Breakfast at Tiffany's is a 1961 American romantic comedy film starring Audrey Hepburn and...  more
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  • Black Swan18

    Black Swan

    Natalie Portman, Mila Kunis


    Directed byDarren Aronofsky

    Black Swan is a 2010 American psychological thriller-horror film directed by Darren Aronofsky...  more
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  • The Devil Wears Prada19

    The Devil Wears Prada

    Anne Hathaway, Heidi Klum


    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

    Brokeback Mountain

    Anne Hathaway, Jake Gyllenhaal


    Directed byAng Lee

    Brokeback Mountain is a 2005 American epic romantic drama film directed by Ang Lee. It is a...  more
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  • Dallas Buyers Club21

    Dallas Buyers Club

    Jennifer Garner, Matthew McConaughey


    Directed byJean-Marc Vallée

    Dallas Buyers Club is a 2013 American biographical drama film, co-written by Craig Borten and...  more
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  • Blazing Saddles22

    Blazing Saddles

    Mel Brooks, Gene Wilder


    Directed byMel Brooks

    Blazing Saddles is a 1974 satirical Western comedy film directed by Mel Brooks. Starring...  more
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  • Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)23


    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


    Bill Murray, Dustin Hoffman


    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

    Requiem for a Dream

    Jennifer Connelly, Jared Leto


    Directed byDarren Aronofsky

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