Many critics and film scholars rank Al Pacino as one of the best actors in the history of cinema. With eight Oscar nominations, it is easy to see why. The man was one of the top critically acclaimed actors of the '70s. He carried that prestige through his career, although some of his later choices left a bit to be desired.
With that said, Pacino in a movie makes any film worth checking out, just to see his performance. However, several of those movies, especially in recent years, left fans wondering what the actor was looking at when making his career choices.
In 2019, at the age of 79, Pacino still proved to be one of the best actors of any generation when he appeared in Martin Scorsese's The Irishman and Quentin Tarantino's Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, picking up his ninth Oscar nomination for the former.
Updated on January 27, 2020, by Shawn Lealos: Based on the fact that the icon picked up yet another Oscar nomination, 47 years after his first, here is a look at Al Pacino's five best and five worst movies, according to Rotten Tomatoes.
15 * INSOMNIA (2002) - 92%
Christopher Nolan followed up his critically acclaimed 2000 crime drama Memento with a remake of a Norwegian film, Insomnia. The movie was another crime drama, this one surrounding a child murderer living in Alaska.
Al Pacino stars as the police detective sent from L.A. to Alaska to help in the investigation, while Robin Williams played against character as the killer. The selling point of the movie was the fact that the sun never went down in Alaska, causing Pacino's detective to suffer from insomnia, with Nolan using lighting techniques to show viewers the effects.
14 * THE SON OF NO ONE (2011) - 16%
In 2011, Al Pacino joined a cast of talented actors for a movie that ended up a critical failure. The Son of No One was a crime thriller starring Channing Tatum as a rookie cop named Jonathan in Queen, New York. However, he had a troubled childhood that included a double murder that his friends helped cover-up.
Al Pacino plays a police detective who worked the case at the time and knew that Jonathan was involved, but let it slip into the cracks because he knew that it was self-defense and he knew Jonathan's dad, a former cop. Critics say the cast was great, but the movie itself was a mess and made no sense.
13 * GLENGARRY GLEN ROSS (1992) - 95%
Released in 1992 by director James Foley based on the screenplay and stage play by David Mamet, Glengarry Glen Ross remains one of the greatest dialogue-driven movies in cinema history. The film has a fantastic cast, including legends and icons like Al Pacino, Jack Lemmon, Ed Harris, Alan Arkin, Kevin Spacey, and Alec Baldwin.
The movie features a group of real estate salesmen that are given a contest with prizes for the top two salesmen and termination papers for the remaining men. This contest leads to some dishonest and illegal activities, and a harsh life moment for them all.
12 * REVOLUTION (1985) - 10%
Revolution was a 1985 historical drama that starred Al Pacino as a fur trapper in New York who ends up involuntarily enlisted into the American Revolutionary War. Critics bashed the movie, and it was a massive flop, which reportedly caused Pacino to step away from acting for four years.
Director Hugh Hudson had just directed an Oscar-nominated film four years earlier with Chariots of Fire, so this was a surprising failure for both Hudson and Pacino. Critics said it looked great, but criticized the story itself for failing the film.
11 * DOG DAY AFTERNOON (1975) - 95%
Sidney Lumet teamed up with Al Pacino in 1975 for the crime thriller, Dog Day Afternoon. In the film, Pacino is a first-time crook named Sonny Wortzik, who tries to rob a bank, but everything goes wrong when one of his partners runs, and Sonny realizes they chose the wrong day and the bank didn't have the money he thought.
The film then turns into a showdown as the police show up, and Sonny is on the inside, not wanting to hurt anyone, but knowing that there is no escape. Pacino picked up his fourth Oscar nomination in four years for the role.
10 MISCONDUCT (2016) - 7%
Another recently released movie on this list, Misconduct, tells the story of a power struggle between a corrupt pharmaceutical executive and a senior partner at a law firm, and the young lawyer caught in between. The talent on hand was great, with Anthony Hopkins as the exec and Pacino starring as the senior partner.
This film was another Pacino flop, making only $2.3 million at the box office. Critics gave it a 7% rotten rating at Rotten Tomatoes, asking why actors like Hopkins and Pacino are starring in it.
9 THE IRISHMAN (2019) - 96%
Not all of Al Pacino's latter movie roles were considered rotten by critics at Rotten Tomatoes. In what might shock many movie fans, The Irishman was the first time that Pacino ever worked with Martin Scorsese.
He joined Scorsese veterans Robert de Niro and Joe Pesci for this gangster epic. It should also be noted that Scorsese had the most freedom he has had in years thanks to the movie hitting as a Netflix exclusive, with a high 96% fresh rating.
8 GIGLI (2003) - 6%
Often called one of the worst movies of all-time and proof of the decline of Ben Affleck in the early part of the century, Gigli also featured Al Pacino in a thankless role. The film remains most known for the pairing of Affleck and Jennifer Lopez, which led to most fans dismissing it upon release.
Affleck is Gigli, a hitman tasked with kidnapping a mentally challenged younger brother of a prosecutor to save a mob boss (Pacino) from prison. Critics gave the film a 6% rotten rating on Rotten Tomatoes, calling it a clumsily plotted mess.
7 THE INSIDER (1999) - 96%
In 1999, Al Pacino starred alongside Russell Crowe in the Oscar-nominated film The Insider. The Michael Mann directed movie was based on a true story with Pacino starring as 60 Minutes producer Lowell Bergman, the man helping host Mike Wallace (Christopher Plummer) interview a whistleblower from big tobacco (Crowe).
The Insider picked up seven Oscar nominations, including one for Best Picture and one for Crowe for Best Actor. Rotten Tomatoes critics gave it a 96% fresh rating, calling it intelligent, compelling, and full of strong performances.
6 HANGMAN (2017) - 5%
One of the least successful movies in Al Pacino's career came in 2017 when he starred in Hangman. The film only made $104,000 worldwide at the box office and only finished with a little over $2 million in domestic video sales. On top of that, Hangman ended up with a low 5% rotten rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
Pacino starred as a decorated homicide detective named Ray Archer, who teams with a criminal profiler (Karl Urban) to catch a serial killer. Critics called the film hackneyed, cliched, and cheesy.
5 THE GODFATHER, PART II (1974) - 97%
Al Pacino hit the big time thanks to Francis Ford Coppola casting him to star in the Godfather trilogy. The second movie in the series earned a 97% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes. This film followed Pacino's Michael Corleone and compared his rise to power with his father as a younger man (Robert de Niro).
The film picked up nine Oscar nominations, including one for Pacino for Best Actor. The film ended up winning for both Best Picture and Best Director.
4 88 MINUTES (2008) - 5%
Through the latter half of his career, Al Pacino took on a lot of action roles despite his age. In 2008, a 68-year-old Pacino played a university professor named Jack Gramm, who helps the FBI on occasion with cases in 88 Minutes. After delivering testimony on a criminal, he starts to receive threatening phone calls, saying he will die in 88 minutes.
It is then up to Jack to use his expertise in forensic psychiatry to figure out who wants him dead to save his own life. The film received a 5% rotten score on Rotten Tomatoes, with the consensus saying the talent on hand was squandered in this inept thriller.
3 THE GODFATHER (1972) - 98%
Released in 1972, Francis Ford Coppola had to fight Paramount to cast Al Pacino for the role of Michael Corleone, the son of Don Vito Corleone (Marlon Brando). Paramount wanted Warren Beatty, Robert Redford, or Ryan O'Neal, but Coppola wanted Pacino. Coppola won, and the rest is history.
The film received a 98% fresh rating from Rotten Tomatoes, the second-highest of Pacino's career. The film picked up nine Oscar nominations, including the first for Al Pacino, one of four actors from the film to receive nominations. Brando won for Best Actor, and the film won for Best Picture.
2 JACK AND JILL (2011) - 3%
It might not seem fair to put Jack and Jill on this list because Al Pacino was just in the movie playing himself. For those who are lucky enough to have missed out on this film, Adam Sandler starred as twin siblings Jack and Jill, with Jack a successful executive and Jill, his passive-aggressive sister who torments him every Thanksgiving.
The movie was universally panned, with a 3% rotten score on Rotten Tomatoes and a slightly higher, but still rotten 36% by fans. The consensus on the site does credit an "inexplicably committed performance from Al Pacino" as the only real highlight.
1 SALOME (2013) - 100%
In what might come as a surprise, Al Pacino has one movie in his career that has a perfect 100% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The movie is Salome from 2013. For those who have not heard of this film, it retells the story of the Biblical city of Salome.
Not only did Pacino star in the movie, but he directed and wrote it. That makes this a huge honor for the actor when it comes to its critical acclaim. It is also unique because Pacino edited the film out of his docudrama from 2011 titled Wilde Salome, removing the documentary aspects.