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The Best Movies All Aspiring Actors Must Watch

Updated March 1, 2021 5.5k votes 882 voters 31.8k 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. 

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  • Forrest Gump1
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    Forrest Gump

    Tom Hanks, Sally Field

    Released1994

    Directed byRobert Zemeckis

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  • Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri2
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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

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  • To Kill a Mockingbird4
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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

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  • Goodfellas6
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    Goodfellas

    Robert De Niro, Samuel L. Jackson

    Released1990

    Directed byMartin Scorsese

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  • The Godfather7
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    The Godfather

    Al Pacino, Marlon Brando

    Released1972

    Directed byFrancis Ford Coppola

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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

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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

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  • The Departed14
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    The Departed

    Leonardo DiCaprio, Jack Nicholson

    Released2006

    Directed byMartin Scorsese

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  • Sophie's Choice15
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    Sophie's Choice

    Meryl Streep, Kevin Kline

    Released1982

    Directed byAlan J. Pakula

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  • Singin' in the Rain16
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    Singin' in the Rain

    Debbie Reynolds, Gene Kelly

    Released1952

    Directed byStanley Donen, Gene Kelly

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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

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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

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  • Tootsie24
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    Tootsie

    Bill Murray, Dustin Hoffman

    Released1982

    Directed bySydney Pollack

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  • Requiem for a Dream25
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    Requiem for a Dream

    Jennifer Connelly, Jared Leto

    Released2000

    Directed byDarren Aronofsky

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