Sadly, aspiring actors today don’t spend enough time learning and researching the industry they’re about to get into. They don’t read enough, they don’t see enough plays, and they don’t watch enough movies. Today, we’ll discuss the best films to learn acting from, in a way.
Naturally, you cannot become a good actor just by watching movies alone. Acting is learned kinesthetically, that is through constant doing, relaxation and muscle memory. However, you can significantly improve your on-camera acting skills by critically and consciously observing actors in well-done movies.
It’s not a secret that today’s famous directors watched a lot of films because movies taught them how to position a camera, how to light a scene and how to do blocking, among other things.
But, the movie is not just about camera movements, angles and lighting, it’s also about acting. And while watching films, an actor can learn a lot about it: from techniques of listening and reacting to the partner’s speech to breathing, diction, use of gestures and a lot more.
Remember that you must watch these actively. You don’t watch these films for the entertainment value.
Here we’ve made the list of the best six films that future actors (male or female) can use as a tool to learning some acting techniques.
6 Best Films to Learn Acting From
1. A League of Their Own (1992)
This will be the only pick from the 1990s, I promise. When watching a movie, the viewers don’t really pay attention on how much time and effort each of the actors spends to prepare for the role and then, rehearses every scene again and again. “A League of Their Own” is the best example to show you that being an actor doesn’t just mean posing in front of the camera for a few minutes.
This film about All-American Girls Professional Baseball League, where all the actresses (besides Geena Davis) perform all the insanely difficult tricks by themselves (with Madonna even spending hours in a gym to prepare for the role of Mae “All the Way”) will make you believe that acting can be very physical at times.
2. Devil Wears Prada (2006)
If you want to become an actor, be ready to control your every single part of your body; from the way you walk, to gestures and even smile. In this movie about an ego-centric editor of some fashion magazine Miranda Priestley played by Meryl Streep, where she shows the best of her acting talent by perfectly using her body movements to show her power over all of her assistants.
Her smile that she uses as a way to show her attitude towards some people and things in the movie is terrific and deserves much more than just an Academy Awards nomination. As for the way she walks, her first appearance in a movie perfectly tells the audience that she is really confident in herself, even before she says a word.
3. The Reader (2008)
“How far would you go to protect your secret?” is the tagline to this post – WWII drama, where Kate Winslet goes way too far to do that. In this film you will see one of the best acting that received so well-deserved statuette at the Academy Awards in 2008.
Even though there are a lot of hints that the director gives to audience about her character Hanna’s secret, it’s only because of Kate’s flawless acting that keeps the plot’s intrigue until the very end of the film. Her ability to change the conversations without being suspected and noticed by both her film partner and the viewers is one of the best things about the film.
Actors say that playing intimate scenes is one of the hardest things to do, because viewers pay attention to the naked body and forget about the character, but here Kate manages to make us forget about the nudity at all, as you follow her character’s mystery behind which lies a truth that will make you question everything you know.
4. I Am Sam (2001)
It’s not a secret that actors have to pretend being someone else on screen and it is already not an easy task, but if that someone else is mentally disabled man who fights for custody of his 7 year old daughter, then the actor’s task is much more complicated.
Sean Penn’s character Sam will make the cold heart not only of his lawyer melt, but also of anyone who watches the film. The way he uses his facial expression to show Sam’s disability is so realistic, that you will even question Sean Penn’s sanity while watching some of his other film.
Sean Penn didn’t receive any awards for this movie, but it doesn’t make his acting in this film less impressive than in his two award winning roles.
And if you are a kid who wants to become an actor, then this movie is a must-watch for you as well; Dakota Fanning’s ability to transform her 7 year old character Lucy into a mature young lady in the struggles to keep her dad is one of the best kids’ performances you can ever see in films.
5. Black Swan (2010)
It is a beautiful drama about a committed dancer Nina, played by Natalie Portman, who struggles to identify what is real and what is not after she receives the lead role in a new production of Tchaikovsky’s “Swan Lake”. Natalie’s performance in this film will leave any viewer speechless, as her ability to create the realism in every part of the movie, real or imagined, is mind-blowing.
As the tagline to the movie claims “Perfection is about letting go” and in this film Natalie truly lets her go reaching perfection of acting and receives her well-deserved Golden Globes and Oscars Awards win. The film will also show Mila Kunis in an unusually dramatic for her role of Nina’s biggest rival Lily who also dreams of getting the lead role in “Swan Lake.”
6. Dallas Buyers Club (2013)
It doesn’t happen every day when supporting and lead roles in one movie are both praised by film critics. Dallas Buyers Club is one of them. Receiving two Academy Awards for best acting, this film will show you how much suffering an actor can undergo to prepare for the role in a movie.
After gaining 48 kilos for his role of John Lennon’s murderer in “Chapter 27” Jared Leto then, had to lose 13 kilos of his normal weight to play his transgender character Rayon who is suffering from AIDS. His co-start in this movie is Matthew McConaughey had to lose 22 kilos for the role he was waiting his whole career.
His transformation from an ego-centric Texas electrician and hustler into a person who is trying to help others suffering from AIDS will impress anyone who watches the film.