The Great Debates: Al Pacino or Robert De Niro?

Welcome to the latest “Great Debate”!

This time up, we have a debate that’s been going on as far back as I can remember. Two of the greatest actors of all time… Al Pacino and Robert De Niro.

Being roughly the same age, both of Italian descent, and both incredibly gifted performers, it’s unavoidable that the two would draw comparisons to each other. And they have. Over the course of the past four decades, I don’t think any two actors have been compared and contrasted against each other as much as these two have.

Which one do you choose?

Click through to read the tale of the tape!!


Robert De Niro

Born: August 17, 1943

Total Number of IMDb Credits as an Actor: 94

First Film: “Greetings”

Signature Role:Β Jake LaMotta, “Raging Bull”

Oscar Nominations: 6 (Best Supporting Actor: “The Godfather Part II”. Best Actor: “Taxi Driver”, “The Deer Hunter”, “Raging Bull”, “Awakenings”, “Cape Fear”)

Oscars: Best Supporting Actor, “The Godfather Part II”. Best Actor, “Raging Bull”

Underrated Movies: “Midnight Run”, “Flawless”

Darkest Hour: “Rocky and Bullwinkle”


Al Pacino

Born: April 25, 1940

Total Number of IMDb Credits as an Actor: 50

First Film: “Me, Natalie”

Oscar Nominations:Β 8 (Best Actor in a SupportingΒ Role: “The Godfather”, “Dick Tracy”, “Glengarry Glen Ross”. Best Actor: “The Godfather Part II”, “Serpico”, “Dog Day Afternoon”, “…And Justice For All”, “Scent of a Woman”)

Oscars: Best Actor, “Scent of a Woman”

Signature Role: Michael Corleone, “The Godfather”, “The Godfather Part II”

Underrated Movies: “Glengarry Glen Ross”, “City Hall”

Darkest Hour: “Jack and Jill”


There you have it folks. Just a couple of facts to stir the pot as we get our discussion started here!

Which is it going to be? Pacino, or De Niro?

They’re both great… now CHOOSE!


112 thoughts on “The Great Debates: Al Pacino or Robert De Niro?

  1. Gotta go with DeNiro on this one. Sure both actors have had their fair share of good, great, and shitty movies. But DeNiro is at least capable of acting. Pacino just screams at the top of his lungs and somehow people think he is acting. I don’t dislike Pacino, but you have to be in the mood for lots of screaming.

  2. Both of these guys are working overtime to destroy their legacies so if you went by just the last few years I think it’d be a tossup. But looking back on things I gotta go with DeNiro just because I enjoy the dark tone he often brings to his roles. Also, he doesn’t seem to yell as much as Pacino. πŸ™‚

    • Pacino getting two demerits already for his “Yelling”. Ouch.

      Neither of these guys have had outstanding careers as elder statesmen of the acting community, have they? LOL. Its been a couple of rough decades…

  3. Damn this one’s tough. I’m going to go with Pacino by a nose, but will admit that in a half hour I could feel differently.

    Pacino’s screaming and shouting started with Dick Tracy. I believe that because he received an Oscar nomination for the role, that it was what convinced him to keep doing it in every movie since and eventually earned him that elusive Oscar with Scent of a Woman.

    • He also used it quite a bit in “Heat”. She’s got a GREAT ASS!!


      But when you look at some of his “legendary roles”, he’s not like that at all… I can tell its going to be a problem for him, already, though. 😦

  4. I had to choose De Niro, but its a debate thats still running through my head. Man, I’m feeling guilty now (I’m apologizing to Al Pacino in my head). But I chose De Niro because (it may sound stupid), but he made me laugh really hard in Stardust. There’s no doubt he’s done some good/great stuff before with Godfather 2 and I liked him as the Creature in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein.

    • Ha!

      πŸ˜€ I’ll let you off the hook Kim, cause Ive never seen stardust. So you may be right. I do know he has a good sense of humor… he plays a great straight man, and has even had roles where he’s the funny guy, like the Analyize this movies…

      I like Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, too. We may be in the minority though! πŸ˜‰

  5. I’m going with Pacino, mostly because he didn’t win an oscar for Godfather II and he definitely should have. It’s kind of a pity vote, but not really because he’s so awesome.
    I think I have actually seen more movies with De Niro but they haven’t been really “signature” ones. I really liked him in Wag the Dog, but I liked everybody in Wag the Dog.
    I really need to see more of both of them….

  6. Very tough, they’re both great, but I think the deciding factor has to be if they were switched for their signature roles, could they have pulled off what the other did? I can definitely see De Niro doing a great job as Michael Corleone (more obviously since he played young Vito), but I have a hard time imagining Pacino as Jake LaMotta. I don’t think that would have worked.

    So I choose… John Cazale.

    • Ooooh. I’m gonna assume you voted De Niro, based on your comments. Dont mess around though, I almost broke out the “Big Font” on you here. πŸ˜€

      I’ve heard that “test” before, but I dont but into its validity. I couldnt see Pacino in that role because he doesnt seem atheletic enough to be a boxer… I couldnt imagine De Niro as Tony Montana, either… so…

      • Yeah I voted De Niro. But it could really go either way for me. Pacino in Godfather II is one of the greatest performances ever. But, Jack and Jill.

      • I think for most people its a tough call… that’s why it’s a “Great Debate” πŸ˜€

        But yeah, personally I would choose to focus on their good roles, cause they both have shite in their filmography. Yeah Pacino has “Jack and Jill”, but Little Fockers was horrendous too. In fact, De Niro probably has more stinkers than Pacino in terms of sheer quantity. I dont even think he screens scripts anymore. LOL.

  7. Pacino’s Satan in The Devil’s advocate totally creeped me out. I had to a two hour drive home though the mountains and it was Midnight by the time I got on my way. I was on edge most of the drive.

    On the other hand, De Niro is better at bringing some humor into his characters. In the bad guys as well as the good guys. The result is that his characters sometimes feel deeper, more fleshed out, even if the proper character development isn’t there.

    So I think I’m going to have to vote for De Niro in this one. He seems a more versatile actor.

    • Chalk another one up for De Niro. Another person citing his comedic abilities… nice, nice. Pacino really hasnt done a lot in the way of comedy, and some of what he has done has been absolutely cringe worthy. Eesh, you know? πŸ˜€

  8. Pacino. The deciding movie for me was “Looking for Richard”. A masters class on acting and producing Shakespeare. Totally explained Richard III in a meaningful way. The play itself was only a small part of the flik. It was mostly a discussion with actors and audience about Shakespeare, his meanings and importance to modern life. Best American actor in a Shakespeare production ever! Still love DeNiro though(who doesn’t).

  9. Ooh. Good one. I think I’m gonna lean just a little bit towards De Niro, because I think he has a greater range as an actor. Pacino frequently seems to be ‘doing Pacino’ (despite his rep as a hardcore Method actor, I think in recent years his method has been ‘how would Pacino act’, not that I mind that so much, but it’s a bit limiting), whereas De Niro has a much wider range of tones and characters. Plus his comedy is better. I dont think he’s as concerned with his image when he selects a role, and while that may wind up with a Machete or Little Fockers, it also gives us a Stardust or Analyze that. Plus he gets HUGE geek cred for Brazil, whereas Pacino has zero geek credits to his filmography (at least not that I see)

    Winner: De Niro.

    • Yeah, LOL, this is one of the big ones. Decided to bust it out…

      Pacino geek cred, Pacino geek cred… Uhmmmmmm….


      You may be right. But Pacino does have Scarface, which is a pop culture phenomenon the likes of which nothing De Niro ever did can compare. So. [shrugs]

      It’s a tough question though, so basically any decision criteria is respectable. You gotta get there somehow, you know?

  10. De Niro. And why did I take your poll…

    Father Bobby from Sleepers: “Because you never know when someone might want more than your word. ” πŸ˜‰

  11. Al Pacino all the way. Come on…he’s the Godfather and you can’t go against the Godfather. Plus, Tony Montana. Need I say more? Don’t get me wrong Robert De Niro is great too, but Al Pacino is just a hair better in my book.

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