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The Best Movies All Aspiring Actors Must Watch

Updated July 5, 2019 3.9k votes 398 voters 27.9k views66 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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  • 1
    The Godfather is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best Movies All Aspiring Actors Must Watch
    177
    23

    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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  • 2
    Rain Man is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best Movies All Aspiring Actors Must Watch
    120
    34

    Rain Man

    Tom Cruise, Dustin Hoffman

    Released1988

    Directed byBarry Levinson

    Rain Man is a 1988 American drama film directed by Barry Levinson and written by Barry Morrow... more on Wikipediaamazon buy button
  • 3
    Goodfellas is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best Movies All Aspiring Actors Must Watch
    108
    31

    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 on Wikipediaamazon buy button

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  • 4
    Taxi Driver is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best Movies All Aspiring Actors Must Watch
    105
    33

    Taxi Driver

    Robert De Niro, Jodie Foster

    Released1976

    Directed byMartin Scorsese

    Taxi Driver is a 1976 American neo-noir psychological thriller film directed by Martin... more on Wikipediaamazon buy button
  • 5
    The Silence of the Lambs is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best Movies All Aspiring Actors Must Watch
    124
    67

    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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  • 6
    The Dark Knight is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best Movies All Aspiring Actors Must Watch
    129
    81

    The Dark Knight

    Christian Bale, Michael Caine

    Released2008

    Directed byChristopher Nolan

    The Dark Knight is a 2008 superhero film directed by Christopher Nolan, based on the DC Comics... more on Wikipediaamazon buy button

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  • 7
    Singin' in the Rain is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best Movies All Aspiring Actors Must Watch
    67
    26

    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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  • 8
    Walk the Line is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best Movies All Aspiring Actors Must Watch
    65
    25

    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
  • 9
    Pulp Fiction is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best Movies All Aspiring Actors Must Watch
    113
    71

    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
  • 10
    To Kill a Mockingbird is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best Movies All Aspiring Actors Must Watch
    63
    26

    To Kill a Mockingbird

    Robert Duvall, Gregory Peck

    Released1962

    Directed byRobert Mulligan

    To Kill a Mockingbird is a 1962 American drama film directed by Robert Mulligan. The... more on Wikipediaamazon buy button
  • 11
    Breakfast at Tiffany's is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best Movies All Aspiring Actors Must Watch
    59
    26

    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
  • 12
    The Departed is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best Movies All Aspiring Actors Must Watch
    43
    11

    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 on Wikipediaamazon buy button

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  • 13
    Black Swan is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best Movies All Aspiring Actors Must Watch
    66
    39

    Black Swan

    Natalie Portman, Mila Kunis

    Released2010

    Directed byDarren Aronofsky

    Black Swan is a 2010 American psychological thriller-horror film directed by Darren Aronofsky... more on Wikipediaamazon buy button

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  • 14
    All About Eve is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best Movies All Aspiring Actors Must Watch
    43
    17

    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 on Wikipediaamazon buy button
  • 15
    Dallas Buyers Club is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best Movies All Aspiring Actors Must Watch
    47
    23

    Dallas Buyers Club

    Jennifer Garner, Matthew McConaughey

    Released2013

    Directed byJean-Marc Vallée

    Dallas Buyers Club is a 2013 American biographical drama film, co-written by Craig Borten and... more on Wikipediaamazon buy button

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  • 16
    Sophie's Choice is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best Movies All Aspiring Actors Must Watch
    46
    24

    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
  • 17
    Brokeback Mountain is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best Movies All Aspiring Actors Must Watch
    50
    29

    Brokeback Mountain

    Anne Hathaway, Jake Gyllenhaal

    Released2005

    Directed byAng Lee

    Brokeback Mountain is a 2005 American epic romantic drama film directed by Ang Lee. It is a... more on Wikipediaamazon buy button
  • 18
    Birdman or (The Unexpected Vir is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best Movies All Aspiring Actors Must Watch

    Released2014

    Directed byAlejandro González Iñárritu

    Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance), commonly referred to as Birdman, is a 2014... more on Wikipediaamazon buy button

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  • 19
    Blazing Saddles is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best Movies All Aspiring Actors Must Watch
    28
    9

    Blazing Saddles

    Mel Brooks, Gene Wilder

    Released1974

    Directed byMel Brooks

    Blazing Saddles is a 1974 satirical Western comedy film directed by Mel Brooks. Starring... more on Wikipediaamazon buy button

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  • 20
    Tootsie is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best Movies All Aspiring Actors Must Watch
    32
    14

    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 on Wikipediaamazon buy button
  • 21
    Requiem for a Dream is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best Movies All Aspiring Actors Must Watch
    45
    29

    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 on Wikipediaamazon buy button

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  • 22
    Coal Miner's Daughter is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best Movies All Aspiring Actors Must Watch
    38
    22

    Coal Miner's Daughter

    Tommy Lee Jones, Sissy Spacek

    Released1980

    Directed byMichael Apted

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  • 23
    Fargo is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best Movies All Aspiring Actors Must Watch
    43
    29

    Fargo

    Steve Buscemi, William H. Macy

    Released1996

    Directed byEthan Coen, Joel Coen

    Fargo is a 1996 American neo-noir dark comedy crime film written, produced, edited, and... more on Wikipediaamazon buy button

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  • 24
    The Devil Wears Prada is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best Movies All Aspiring Actors Must Watch
    42
    29

    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 on Wikipediaamazon buy button

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  • 25
    A Streetcar Named Desire is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best Movies All Aspiring Actors Must Watch
    36
    23

    A Streetcar Named Desire

    Marlon Brando, Vivien Leigh

    Released1951

    Directed byElia Kazan

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