Saturday, February 27, 2010

The Canon Review List-A-Mania, Top 5 Al Pacino Movies

One thing I have found out in writing this blog is that I suck at introductions. Well, I'm going to keep it simple this time. I like movies, I like Al Pacino, so I am compiling a list of his top 5 movies according to me. Al Pacino is one of my favorite actors, just behind DeNiro, so this will not be an easy task. There will be a few movies left out that you may disagree with, and there are a few I have yet to see, so I can't form a proper opinion on it yet. But, nevertheless, here are the top 5 movies featuring Al Pacino.

Honorable Mention:

Carlito's Way, Glengarry Glen Ross, The Insider, Scent of a Woman - I haven't seen any of these films, although I have heard good things about each one.

Scarface - Yes, this was a good movie, and Pacino was great in it. But to me it dragged on too long, it was hard to like any of the characters, and the ending was over-the-top and a little ridiculous.

Heat - I might get some "heat" for this one, but it's my list. Actually, I liked this movie a lot, it's just that I felt that Pacino was in better movies. I guess this would be number 6 on my list.

The Godfather 3 - Pacino was great in this film, the problem was the script wasn't nearly up to par of the first two Godfathers and Sofia Coppola wasn't a good actress at all. However, I think this movie takes more of a beating than it deserves, simply because of the comparison to the other two Godfather films. If this was the only Godfather film, it would be more well-regarded.

The List:

5. Donnie Brasco - It was a tough call between this movie and Heat, but ultimately I went with Donnie Brasco. Pacino did a great job playing Lefty in the movie, a mafia hitman who has seen better days and really wants to leave the lifestyle, but the only way out for Lefty is death. Even though Lefty is a man that has killed many people in cold blood, Pacino makes us somehow feel sympathetic towards him. Johnny Depp also did a great job in this movie as the undercover FBI Agent who must turn on a man that ultimately became his friend and mentor, and will mean doom for Lefty. Both Pacino and Depp are able to play their roles with conviction and you can really feel what emotions the characters are going through thanks to the excellent acting of these two men. It's a little long, but it never drags at any point. Personally, I think this was Pacino's best performance in the last 20 years, because unlike other later Pacino movies where he screams the whole time, he's able to play Lefty with a subtle, understated touch. Just a great movie, and one I feel is slightly underrated.

4. Dog Day Afternoon - Pacino was at his peak in this movie, and if the role of Sonny Wortzik was played by anybody else other than Pacino, this movie wouldn't be nearly as good as it is. Just the perfect marriage of actor and character in this film. Just an awesome performance here by Pacino, and John Cazale was great as Pacino's partner in crime, Sal, acting as the perfect low-key contrast to the manic Sonny. Director Sidney Lumet did a great job of telling this story and conveying the danger and the realism involved in this bank-heist turned hostage situation. Just a great movie, if you haven't seen it you should see it as soon as possible.

3. Serpico - Another movie directed by Sidney Lumet, Serpico is the story of Frank Serpico, a New York City cop who became vilified by his fellow officers because he refused to become corrupt. In another actor's hands, this movie is just another run of the mill corrupt cop film, but Pacino nailed every aspect of the multi-dimensional character of Frank Serpico, taking the movie to a whole-new level. The movie does a great job of portraying Serpico's struggle with the corruption of the NYPD, the conflict within as to whether or not he should just go with the flow, his attempts to stop the corruption without losing his job, or even worse, and how the stress affected his relationships in his personal life. Pacino also does a great job of portraying Serpico's eccentricities without going over-the-top with it. Just a great performance by Pacino, and a great movie overall.

2. The Godfather Part 1 - What can I say, this is one of the greatest movies of all time. Pacino does a wonderful job as Michael Corleone, transforming from the young peaceful man returning from war into the ruthless head of the Corleone crime family, avenging the deaths of his brother and father and eliminating all threats to his empire. The scene where Michael enters the restaurant and eventually kills Sollozzo and his bodyguard is one of the most tense and compelling scenes in film history. The actors were great in their roles, particularly James Caan as Sonny Corleone, the directing was great, and the plot was magnificent. However, there is one Pacino movie better.

1. The Godfather Part 2 - Everything about this film is nearly perfect, from Pacino's portrayal as an increasingly paranoid man who gains control over his business while losing control of his life, to Diane Keaton's performance as Michael Corleone's wife Kay, a woman who never wanted the lifestyle of a mafia wife and comes to despise the very same man she fell in love with years ago. Not to mention John Cazale's performance as Fredo and Lee Strasburg as Hyman Roth. What pushes this movie over the top is Robert Deniro's performance as a young Vito Corleone, and the masterful job done by Coppala of telling both the stories of Vito's rise to the top and Michael's never ending struggle to build on his father's legacy. This is Pacino's greatest movie, and might be the greatest movie of all time.

Well, there you have it, the top 5 Al Pacino Movies. You may agree, or disagree, and that's fine. If you have any ideas for future reviews, lists, posts, or whatever, than feel free to e-mail them to So until next time, remember these words of wisdom,  "keep your friends close, but your enemies closer".

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