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Celebrate the Greatest Performances of Al Pacino

While many of you voted in the poll for what you considered the greatest performances by Al Pacino, the legendary actor was heading towards his 78th birthday. A career beyond remarkable on so many exceptional levels. Picking Pacino’s finest acting moments is not an easy feat.

The extraordinary range of characters, the tempo of his talent pushed to the edge with energy to spare, ferocious, fearless, unforgettable. Catapulted by that flourish of incredible work in the 1970s were Pacino could have conceivably won four Oscars. Instead of the actual zero.

Judging by the results of the poll, I’m going to take a stab in the dark and say many of your choices were heavily influenced by the love of the films. I know, much of Pacino’s strongest work goes hand-in-hand with his greatest films, but to see something like his brilliant turn as Ivan Travalian in Author! Author! (1982) not even making the top 21 performances I’m about to share with you is pretty alarming.

You’ll also find his portrayal of Michael Corleone in The Godfather Part III (1990) way down the list from the first two movies – likely due to the third film’s popularity rather than the performance itself. Which was one of his very best. Pacino’s great turn as Francis Lionel “Lion” Delbuchi in the Palmer d’Or winning Scarecrow (1973) deserved to be higher – but I doubt many have even seen it. I’d argue, too, that the actor’s Roy Cohn in Angels in America (2003) should have been higher. Not to mention some of you will be surprised at the placing of Frank Slade in Scent of a Woman (1992).

Here are the top 21:




21 – Alphonse “Big Boy” Caprice in Dick Tracy (1990)
20 – Steve Burns in Cruising (1980)
19 – Michael Corleone in The Godfather Part III (1990)
18 – Tony D’Amato in Any Given Sunday (1999)
17 – Francis Lionel “Lion” Delbuchi in Scarecrow (1973)
16 – Bobby in The Panic in Needle Park (1971)
15 – Lowell Bergman in The Insider (1999)
14 – John Milton in The Devil’s Advocate (1997)
13 – Arthur Kirkland in …And Justice for All (1979)
12 – Roy Cohn in Angels in America (2003)
11 – Benjamin “Lefty” Ruggiero in Donnie Brasco (1997)
10 – Will Dormer in Insomnia (2002)
9 – Carlito “Charlie” Brigante in Carlito’s Way (1993)
8 – Frank Slade in Scent of a Woman (1992)
7 – Richard “Ricky” Roma in Glengarry Glen Ross (1992)
6 – Tony Montana in Scarface (1983)
5 – Lieutenant Vincent Hanna in Heat (1995)
4 – Frank Serpico in Serpico (1973)
3 – Sonny Wortzik in Dog Day Afternoon (1975)
2 – Michael Corleone in The Godfather (1972)
1 – Michael Corleone in The Godfather Part II (1974)


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