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The Contender
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Al Pacino is better than Leonardo DiCaprio

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 3/18/2016 Category: Arts
Updated: 7 months ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 372 times Debate No: 88454
Debate Rounds (4)
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I will be arguing that Al Pacino is better than Leonardo DiCaprio. I look forward to this debate. Round 1 Acceptance Round 2 Arguments Round 3 Rebuttals Round 4 Conclusions


I accept your challenge and will be debating on behalf of Leonardo DiCaprio. He is certainly the superior actor.
Debate Round No. 1


I will show Pacino's strength in three categories: roles, movies, and impact on the film industry during and after his time.

ROLES: My opponent can make the argument that DiCaprio is more universal in terms of roles. This is true. I can't imagine someone like Pacino playing a French man with a heavy accent. However, the type of roles Pacino chose fit his style and he is regarded as one of or the greatest actor to play crime roles, on either side of the law, as a gangster or a cop. His top roles included Michael Corleone (The Godfather Trilogy), Frank Serpico (Serpico), Sonny Wortzik (Dog Day Afternoon), Arthur Kirkland (...And Justice for All), Tony Montana (Scarface) Frank Slade (Scent Of a Woman) and others within that status. These roles help signify Pacino as the best actor for a crime film. DiCaprio can not beat Pacino in crime roles at all. He simply wasn't made to act out these type of characters. Also, as another note, Pacino chose serious roles, ones that have deep meanings and played them in a divine manner. DiCaprio chose roles that weren't as serious such as the roles in Titanic, The Beach, The Man in the Iron Mask, Poison Ivy, and others. They weren't terrible roles, but not as meaningful. Newsweek has described described his performance in The Godfather Part II as "arguably cinema's greatest portrayal of the hardening of the heart."

MOVIES: The movies Pacino played in had more impact and meaning than all of the movies in DiCaprio's career combined. Movies like The Godfather, The Godfather Part II, Dog Day Afternoon, Scarface have captivated film critics, fans, and fellow actors alike. These films are all influential in their own right, partially because of Pacino himself. DiCaprio has had many great films, but none of them are as influential as The Godfather itself. Pacino have made these films special. His contributions to his films are timeless.

IMPACT on the film industry: Pacino became one of the biggest, or the biggest actor of the 1970s. He had a comeback in the 1990s, but the 1970s was his peak. The films he starred in defined the decade in the 1970s. He gained instant stardom. An absolute unknown became a star, just like that. Every actor in the 1970s wanted to be Pacino, or at least wanted to have the same success. DiCaprio is very similar to Pacino. Both are decade defining stars and both have had Oscar droughts. Pacino is notably regarded as one of the greatest actors and always will. DiCaprio is not far, but not better.


Al Pacino is certainly a great actor, but Leonardo DiCaprio is the greatest actor in the 21st century. He was nominated for an Academy Award for his fourth film "What's Eating Gilbert Grape" at a young age of 19. Al Pacino was nominated for the first time for "The Godfather" at the age 32, not to mention Marlon Brando stole the show and he won the Best Actor award. This proves that Leonardo had a natural talent for acting at a young age.
Leonardo can play many types of roles, a poor adventurer (Titanic), a cop (The Departed) an insane person (Shutter Island) , a survivalist (The Revenent), a con artist, (Catch me if you Can), and a villainous southerner (Django Unchained). Al Pacino only has one role he is good at, being a crime lord, he literally plays the same role every single time, it doesn't show true acting ability.
Leonardo's movies also are way more successful, on, Leonardo is ranked the 25th highest grossing actor of all time with a lifetime gross of 2.5 billion dollars. Al Pacino ranks in at 39 with 1.4 billion dollars. Finally, lets talk awards, we infamously know and make fun of Leo taking a long time to win an Oscar, but Al Pacino took just as long and failed more times. Leo was nominated for an Oscar six times, winning once, Al Pacino was nominated 8 times winning once. Pacino may be a good actor, but clearly Leonardo DiCaprio is better.
Debate Round No. 2


As this is the rebuttal round, I will be taking my opponents arguments and add my own thoughts to them and will be attempting to prove them wrong.

To say that Leonardo DiCaprio is the greatest actor in the 21st century, is subjective.

COMMERCIAL AND CRITICAL SUCCESS: My opponent has provided evidence that DiCaprio had more commercial success than Pacino. This is true, however, commercial success isn't the only type of success that is important. Critical success matters and is more important than commercial success. Pacino has had way more critical success than DiCaprio, which counts more than commercial success. Critical success make you one with the elite, not commercial success.

AGE AND OSCARS: I'll be straightforward with this. Age does not matter at all. Age does not make you a better actor. If anything, DiCaprio got a good head-start by being a child star. He could of been a horrible actor into adulthood. Age doesn't really mean anything. And as for the Oscars, both had horrible droughts, now matter how many times they failed to win.

COMPETITION AND OTHERS: Pacino had way more competition during his time, than DiCaprio. Pacino had actors like De Niro, Nicholson, and Hoffman around him. DiCaprio doesn't have anyone close to those people around him. If anything, it was harder for Pacino to win an Oscar for this reason. DiCaprio had his chances before his first win. Also, Pacino had better nominated performances such Michael Corleone from the Godfather Part II and Sonny from Dog Day Afternoon than DiCaprio. Furthermore, Pacino is also diverse in roles. DiCaprio maybe more diverse, but Pacino has had his fair share in roles. He played a lawyer (..And Justice for All), a blind, old soldier (Scent Of a Woman), a sports consultant (Two For The Money) and had to play to Spanish people (in the films Scarface and Carlito's Way), something DiCaprio has never done.


Al Pacino may have higher critical rankings, but most critics have a bias and they argue over irrelevant things. This could also be because Al Pacino's legacy has aged well, Leonardo DiCaprio is in his prime and still going. What is the purpose of a movie, to make a profit based on showing people something they came to see. You could be an amazing actor, but if you don't make money, you are out of the job. Leonardo DiCaprio gets people in the theaters, this makes him a desirable actor. Commercial success is basically the reason actors get the work they do, so to say critical success counts more is completely wrong. People go to see Leonardo DiCaprio star in a movie. In the Godfather which is arguably Al Pacino's greatest film he is not the star and Marlon Brando owns that movie. The sequel had De Nero equally on the star status. Besides Django Unchained, Leonardo DiCaprio is the star, he is what people come to see and experience. To be a great actor, you need people to enjoy watching you, not just the critics. You said in your opening argument that Al Pacino was popular in the 1970s and 1990s, and it was in the 1990s he made a comeback. So this means that common audiences didn't go to see his movies, and therefore he was not a desired actor for a decade. Leonardo has never had a period where his career died out, he has been consistently working for 30 years with no stop to his momentum. Leonardo therefore proves to be the much more desirable actor.

DiCaprio may have been a child star, but this means that acting was always a passion of his. He always took acting seriously since he was young. Age does matter because he's had experience since he was a young age, Pacino started later in life. You can't say age doesn't matter because the longer you act, the more experience you gain. Also Al Pacino might be known more for gritty violent roles, but it can't be said that Leonardo doesn't choose serious roles. There was not even a humorous moment in the Revenant. Tone doesn't make the actor, there are some actors who do great in non-serious roles, like Christoph Waltz, almost all of his roles are not serious yet he's an amazing actor. It is all about the ability of the actor, not the tone of the roles they choose.

You claim that Jack Nicholson, Robert De Niro and Dustin Hoffman stole the Oscars from Leo, but let's look at the evidence supporting that claim. According to Wikipedia, Joel Grey beat Al Pacino for Best Supporting Actor when he was up for the Godfather . He lost to Jack Lemmon a year later, Art Carney the next year. He also lost to Joe Pesci in 1991 and Gene Hackman in 1993, only two out of the seven nominations he was up for he lost to any of three actors you listed.

You stating that Al Pacino's nominated performances are better is subjective. Your argument that Pacino has diverse roles is very hypocritical, in your original arguments you said that he only plays serious roles where he is a crime lord, so now you are telling me that he has a diverse list of rolls. Also, you listed Scarface as a diverse roll simply due to the ethnicity of the character, however you overlooked that the character is a crime lord. When you tried to list roles more diverse than just a crime lord you listed the ethnicity of a crime lord. Also you listed a very specific set of roles that Leonardo DiCaprio hasn't done and claim that just because Al Pacino has done them means he's the better actor. Leonardo has a way more diverse list of roles and has done many things that Al Pacino hasn't. With your logic, just because Al Pacino never played a mentally challenged kid means that Leonardo DiCaprio is the better actor for doing it. It is about what character you put into the role, Leonardo takes these diverse roles and gives them character, he is able to play many different people, in different settings and situations. It takes a lot of skill to be a different person, Leonardo plays many different people. Al Pacino has proven that he skillfully portrays a corrupt crime lord with not much else to offer.
Debate Round No. 3


Before I jump to my conclusion, I want to give my thought on my opponent's rebuttal and correct the flaws I found in his argument. Here we go.

You mentioned about critics and critical rankings. Actors and films aren't just judged by critics. They are also judged by regular moviegoers as well. Some critics may be biased, there is no doubt, however, they do argue over relevant things, such as how a role should be played, a certain camera shot be, etc. Newsweek said that Pacino's role in the Godfather Part II was "arguably cinema's greatest portrayal of the hardening of a heart." This is not irrelevant. This is a good statement. You claimed that the purpose of a film is to bring in profit. The actual purpose of a move is to bring a story to life, not just to make money. Money, if anything, is a good bonus to a film. If you're an actor that wants money, you have to earn it, by being a great actor. The money you get isn't automatic; it must be earned. A commercially successful film isn't always successful. You can go see a commercially-big movie, but it may not actually be good. Some moviegoers may want their money back. Just because a movie has Leonardo DiCaprio in it, doesn't mean it's going to be great. You want your money's worth. Like DiCaprio, Pacino also brought people into the theaters. People enjoyed watching Pacino also. They wanted to see how good he truly was. Millions of theaters sold out on tickets for Pacino films. Pacino was one of the biggest actors, if not the biggest actor of the 1970's. You saying that the Godfather is the greatest film of Pacino's career is debatable. Saying that Marlon Brando owned that movie is also subjective. You got great acting all around, from Pacino, Brando, Caan, Duvall, and Shire. DiCaprio's career had its ups and downs. Pacino's career never died out. He took part in films in the 1980's; he may have had a hard time, but he still took part in films. Also, you can be a horrible actor from a young age, and still be a horrible actor even into adulthood. To respond, there were a few funny moments in the Revenant. When you choose serious roles, you are willing to give it your all. Pacino, personally, took more of that chance. It's the roles they choose that make the actor great, along with the acting. You need both. When I mentioned Nicholson, Hoffman, and De Niro, I wasn't talking about the Oscars, I was talking about regular competition. I did say earlier that DiCaprio is more diverse. I was correcting you when you said that Pacino only plays crime lords. Pacino can branch out too; not as much as DiCaprio, but can still branch out. Pacino had to work extremely hard to perfect a Spanish accent for two different roles, something that is extremely hard to do. Something DiCaprio has never done and can never do as good. Pacino did it perfectly. Pacino had plenty to offer than being a crime lord. He put as much effort into non-crime related roles as crime-related roles.

Now, I can jump into my conclusion: Leonardo DiCaprio is one of my favorites. He is great. When compared to Al Pacino, that is something else. Pacino was better. You don't know what to expect. He can be insanely quiet or loud and angry. His career has given moviegoers and critics and fellow actors thought on how much effort he can put into the roles he chooses. As method actor, he does it precisely. His skills scared fellow actors, trying to keep up and beat him. The characters that Pacino played impacted Hollywood, partially because of him. Pacino chose roles that had depth. The movies that he was in became great because of him and vice versa. He changed how a character should be played. He redefined it, so to speak. DiCaprio also can, but not as well. DiCaprio never played characters or had movies that had more impact on the film industry than Pacino. Pacino is one of the greatest method actors who has ever lived. DiCaprio is too, but he is just not better. If anything, DiCaprio is a disciple of Pacino, but he is not above him. I just want to thank my opponent, it's been fun. I wish him luck and plan to have more debates with my friend/opponent to come.


This whole debate is between Al Pacino's long legacy spanning more than 50 years and Leonardo's entire career lasting thirty years and still going. Al Pacino was one of the first truly great actors, but saying that he is still better than Leonardo DiCaprio is you being simply blinded by this long legacy. You refuse to let go of the old, back in the 70s acting was different, what was good then may not be as good now. Leonardo DiCaprio has always been improving, always been trying new things, and he has much more time to create a lasting impact. You see the nostalgia in Al Pacino's acting and that blinds you. Al Pacino is not as talented as Leonardo DiCaprio, but the nostalgia of movies like "The Godfather" gives people this impression that no one today is worthy of being better than him. Al Pacino plays the same type of role everytime, he does it good, but it doesn't show that he is challenging himself. Leonardo continues to take risks, he slept naked inside a dead horse, that takes commitment and bravery. Al Pacino clearly doesn't take risks and therefore doesn't care for his career as much. Leonardo is an amazing actor, every performance he brings on screen is arguably some of cinema's greatest. With this said, Leonardo is certainly the better actor. I would like to thank my opponent for a thrilling debate and giving me a great introduction to
Debate Round No. 4
No comments have been posted on this debate.
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by ballpit 7 months ago
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Total points awarded:03 
Reasons for voting decision: Con had far more convincing arguments as pro simply seemed to use his opinion on things to argue against the facts of pro (Commercial v.s. Critical success.) Pro made a mistake when he challenged the diversity issue because the roles he listed are all very similar if not the exact same role. Lastly the mini argument about method acting in round four where con brought up sleeping inside a dead horse was won by con. Was a good debate back and forth and pro won a few points here and there however con's arguments as a whole were overwhelming in comparison to those of pro.