Top Ten Movie Actors

The art of performance is an art form that’s hard not to find an appreciation for if you love movies. As a result of this appreciation, this is a list that has been in the works for a very long time. To preface this list of the people I consider the greatest actors in existence I’d like to make a few things clear. This is a list of actors that are all around the greatest performers, but it’s also a list of actors whom, on a personal level, I just enjoy watching. Along with the names of my favorite actors I’ve also listed three films in front of each actor. I want to make it apparent that these three films aren’t necessarily the three best films to come out of that actor’s career, it’s a list of that actor’s three best performances. This is a broad list so I’d like to start with a list of Honorable Mention (in no particular order).

Honorables

  • Brad Pitt
  • Edward Norton
  • Jim Carrey
  • Jeff Bridges
  • Joaquin Phoenix
  • Ralph Fiennes
  • Kevin Spacey
  • Liam Neeson
  • Philip Seymour Hoffman
  • George C. Scott
  • Marlon Brando
  • Leonardo DiCaprio
  • Anthony Hopkins
  • Clint Eastwood
  • Morgan Freeman

And here we go…

10. Joseph Gordon-Levitt

Most, if not all, will be surprised to find actors like Morgan Freeman, Marlon Brando, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Kevin Spacey and Brad Pitt on a list of Honorable Mention while Joseph Gordon-Levitt is right here at number 10. There’s never a need to justify or rationalize one’s opinions when it comes to discussing something as subjective as film. I love Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s aura of charisma any time he’s on screen. He knows how to do what he does and he does it perfectly. I respect him a lot.

3. The Dark Knight Rises

2. Brick

1. Looper

9. Robert De Niro

This list would be incomplete without the great Robert De Niro. He deserves every ounce of praise he gets for any role he plays. There is certainly an intensity to the way he becomes engrossed in his characters and like any brilliant actor, he really does have such a broad range. Whether he’s playing the awkward and psychotic Travis Bickle in Taxi Driver or the calm and collected crook in Heat, he always manages to put a very raw touch on any performance. The industry wouldn’t be the same without him.

3. Taxi Driver

2. The Deer Hunter

1. Raging Bull

8. Michael Fassbender

Whether he’s playing a robot or even the main character in an X-Men movie, Michael Fassbender always has such a powerful presence. He first caught my attention when I saw him in Quentin Tarantino’s masterpiece, Inglourious Basterds. He didn’t play a huge part in the story, but couldn’t help but command the screen. He has such a naturalism to the way he acts making every single one of his actions feel completely real. If you want to watch truly flawless performing watch Michael Fassbender become his character in Shame.

3. Inglourious Basterds

2. Prometheus

1. Shame

7. Tom Hardy

Its slowly starting to be realized by all with each movie he’s a part of, but Tom Hardy is a truly masterful actor. Its a sight to behold anytime he acts. He makes such lucid choices and stays absolutely consistent. Any character he plays becomes so ridiculously defined due to his flawless work as an emotive performer. At this point I can expect nothing less than greatness anytime he chooses to act in a film. It’s always enjoyable to watch him do what he does regardless of the part, be it a charismatic action hero or a feral and emotionless monster of a man.

3. Warrior

2. Bronson

1. The Dark Knight Rises

6. Al Pacino

I feel as though there’s an unspoken competition when it comes to the legendary actors, Robert De Niro and Al Pacino. I would have to go with Al Pacino. Every character he plays is made so intensely human due to a dedication to his work. Realism is what it seems to be about with Pacino. Whether he’s chewing apart the screen in Scent of a Woman or playing a more cool-headed ex-con in Carlito’s Way, with confidence he always manages to bring out the humanity in the men he becomes. Al Pacino is a true master at what he does.

3. Insomnia

2. Dog Day Afternoon

1. The Godfather (Part I + II)

5. Gary Oldman

Gary Oldman is a brilliant character actor who is more than capable of playing the leading man as he sees fit. He has one of the widest ranges of any actor who has ever performed. He can play a ferocious villain in an action movie such as Air Force One and he has the ability to play a more subdued protagonist in a complex drama like Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy. With maturity and grace, Oldman makes everything he does so completely memorable. Gary Oldman is still working today, but he’s already left such a lasting and magnificent legacy with the fascinating ways he takes on the vibrant characters he plays.

3. The Professional

2. Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy

1. The Dark Knight Legend

4. Jack Nicholson

Ever since I fell in love with the art of film, I’ve always considered Jack Nicholson one of my favorite actors. It’s hard not to love the actor when you look at his track record. He is extraordinary, that’s all there is to it. Due to his work as a magnificent performer he is partly responsible for some of the masterpieces fundamental to the progression of cinema. He’s always having fun just doing exactly what he does best, perform flawlessly. Jack makes you feel it no matter what it is. When he laughs, yells, cries, breathes, it’s not him,  it’s his character. Jack Nicholson is an incredible artist and one of the best there is.

3. The Departed

2. The Shining

1. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest

3. Christian Bale

There is something so miraculous to the way Christian Bale completely throws himself in his roles. Regardless of the character, he makes you believe it. As Batman he’s heroic, as Patrick Bateman he’s psychotic, as Dicky Eklund he’s pathetic, as Alfred Borden he’s enigmatic and I could easily go on. It’s as if he just has some kind of vast knowledge on exactly how to tap into the mind and shoes of the characters he portrays. Christian Bale defines a generation of actors who have learned a lot from a long, long history of film and excels because of that knowledge.

3. The Fighter

2. American Psycho

1. The Dark Knight Legend

2. Daniel Day-Lewis

Daniel Day-Lewis is a phenomenal artist and the greatest actor working today. He is incredibly deliberate in the choices he makes and I don’t just mean in the ways he chooses to portray a character, but also in the characters he chooses to play. He’s touched on such a broad spectrum of emotions and he does so flawlessly. No one does it the way Daniel Day-Lewis does it. You want to talk about intensity in performance, just watch him tear through the scenery as the violent villain, Bill “The Butcher” Cutting in Martin Scorsese’s Gangs of New York. Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln is coming soon and I just can’t wait to see what Day-Lewis does with it.

Daniel Day-Lewis blows me away any time he takes on a performance, but it’s in There Will Be Blood where he really hits his stride and shows just how extraordinary a performance can be. Paul Thomas Anderson’s There Will Be Blood is an epic character study about consumption, greed and the American nightmare. At the heart of the film is the complex and depraved oilman, Daniel Plainview. Rarely does the film have a scene without its black-hearted protagonist. It’s one of the juiciest roles in all of film and as always, with precision and dominance, Daniel Day-Lewis plays the character to perfection.

3. Gangs of New York

2. Lincoln

1. There Will Be Blood

1. Heath Ledger

Heath Ledger is the greatest artist to have ever acted in film and its a shame to think about what could’ve been. The Australian actor was only 28-years-old when he passed away and all we have of him is an enigmatic and extraordinary career that was tragically cut very short. Even since a very young age, Heath showed great promise when he took on any role. No matter what it was, be it an rollicking adventure movie like A Knight’s Tale or a serious drama like The Patriot, Heath Ledger showed more than potential to be one of the greats.

A turning point that marked the career of a mature and defiant actor was Heath Ledger’s performance of Ennis Del Mar in Ang Lee’s Brokeback Mountain. This was a role that needed a powerful and honest performance and Heath Ledger responded with a portrayal that exceeded those necessities. Heath Ledger is an extraordinary actor who never needed to prove anything, but if he did, he proves it here. You’d be hard-pressed to find other performances that are as touching and real.

Heath Ledger is the kind of actor who just seems to have fun with whatever he’s doing. He loves doing what he does and just happens to be the best at what he does. Never did he have more fun with a role than when he gave not only the greatest performance of his career, but the greatest performance in the history of film. In The Dark Knight, Ledger was universally praised for his realistic portrayal of one of the most iconic villains in the history of stories. In The Dark Knight, Christopher Nolan and Heath Ledger crafted the greatest character in film, which is in part due to a landmark performance that cements Heath Ledger as the greatest actor to have ever performed.

3. The Patriot

2. Brokeback Mountain

1. The Dark Knight

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Top Ten Movie Performances

Sometimes in film there are performances that prove that performance isn’t just an aspect of the art form known as film, but also an art form on its own. This is a list dedicated to that art form. Its a list that perfectly exemplifies the idea of performance as an art form. These are the performances that will be remembered till the end of film itself. These are the performances that, just for a split second, make you forget you’re watching a movie because of how much raw emotion is encapsulated in a single movie character. Each and every one of them deserves endless amounts of praise.

10. Ralph Fiennes (Schindler’s List)

Ralph Fiennes doesn’t get nearly the praise he deserves. He’s one of the greatest actors and deserves to be held right up there with Robert De Niro, Al Pacino and Marlon Brando. If you don’t believe me, take an in depth look into the antagonist of the masterpiece, Schindler’s List. Truly look at every choice Fiennes makes and you’ll see that the man became Amon Goeth, Ralph Fiennes take on nazi Amon Goeth is nothing short of the most realistic portrayal of evil and hatred ever put on screen.

9. Robert De Niro (Raging Bull)

Robert De Niro’s work in Raging Bull is the kind of performance you look at and say, “that’s not Robert De Niro, that’s Jake LaMotta”. There are so many moments where you’re watching Raging Bull and you just stop breathing at risk of missing a single line De Niro utters because everything is so real. Robert De Niro is one of the greatest actors there ever was and this stands as his greatest performance. He threw every piece of talent he has into it and it shows.

8. Kevin Spacey (American Beauty)

It’s simply common knowledge that Kevin Spacey is a genius when it comes to acting. He’s brilliant in everything he’s in whether its a limping cripple in The Usual Suspects or the voice over of a villainous grass hopper in A Bug’s Life. You’ll find his greatest performance in the fascinating film, American Beauty. American Beauty studies one of the most interesting characters ever put on screen and in order to have an amazing film, which it was, it needed a brilliant performance. Spacey managed to give more than just that.

7. George C. Scott (Patton)

George C. Scott has had a very illustrious career and he’s very well known for the way he gives the middle finger to the award shows, but for some reason always still managed to win them. The reason is because no one, especially the academy, can deny that the man is one of the greatest actors known to film. You’ll find his greatest performance as american rebel and hero. General George S. Patton. Patton was a man who knew war and war alone. Patton extensively looks looks into this brilliant General and Scott plays the character incredibly.

6. F. Murray Abraham (Amadeus)

Until the end of the art of performance you’ll see actors playing great artists, whether that be Beethoven, Shakespeare or even Michelangelo. Rarely will we see actors play mediocre artists and never will we see one played as well as F. Murray Abraham played Wolfgang Mozart’s rival, Composer Antonio Salieri. The movie touches on every spectrum of the character and Abraham relentlessly plays it with such spectacle that at times your heart skips a beat. What you’re watching when you watch Abraham in Amadeus is pure art in every way.

5. Joaquin Phoenix (The Master)

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Whether he’s Johnny Cash or a despicable emperor of Rome, it’s almost disturbing how gloriously Joaquin Phoenix is able to envelop the characters he portrays. Paul Thomas Anderson manages to get the career-best performance out of at least one of his actors and that’s the case with Joaquin Phoenix’s turn as Freddie Quell. Quell is a very confused man, a drifter looking for his way after WWII. He knows drinking, fighting and sex. He’s lacking in purpose and compass and Joaquin Phoenix dives into the character with astounding results.

4. Christoph Waltz (Inglourious Basterds)

At one point in auditioning for the character Col. Hans Landa, Quentin Tarantino literally thought that he might have written an unplayable character. He told himself that he wasn’t going to make the film if he wasn’t able to get the perfect actor for the part. Luckily he found Christoph Waltz who managed to give cinema one of the greatest performances of all time. What you get in the character Col. Hans Landa are so many intricate layers that its understandable that Tarantino had a hard time finding an actor to not only understand every aspect of the character, but also to perform it to perfection. Waltz did just that and more.

3. Jack Nicholson (One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest)

After many trials, finally in 1975 one of literature’s most treasured books was finally put on screen. One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest is one of the greatest films ever made and one of the main reasons that is, is because in it you’ll find the greatest performance from one of the greatest actors known to cinema. Everything Nicholson does in the movie is so human and real. That makes the character all the more likable and relatable as he rivals my most hated character in cinema history. Nicholson holds nothing back and throws everything he had into a performance that desperately needed every single bit of talent an amazing actor could give. Jack Nicholson is always brilliant, but him as R. P. McMurphy is perfection in every sense.

2. Daniel Day-Lewis (There Will Be Blood)

There Will Be Blood is arguably the most extensive character studies into the mind of one the most despicable basterd’s ever depicted on screen. Daniel Day-Lewis is not just one of the greatest actors known to cinema, he is the greatest actor known to cinema and his portrayal as oilman Daniel Plainview proved once and for all precisely what a performance can be. And what a performance can be, I would never be able to put into words, but the best way to put it in one word would be to say masterful.

In watching There Will Be Blood, we’re not watching Daniel Day-Lewis, we’re watching Daniel Plainview. Its almost magical that someone can truly be as fully engrossed in a character as Daniel Day-Lewis is when he acts. We get to learn every aspect of character that is Daniel Plainview in There Will Be Blood and with Daniel Day-Lewis’ acting he makes almost all performances before it seem like child’s play in comparison. Daniel Day-Lewis is the greatest actor known to cinema and what he achieves in There Will Be Blood is nothing short of one of the greatest performances of all time.

1. Heath Ledger (The Dark Knight)

The true art of performance was never truly as prevalent as it was when Heath Ledger played the villain in the greatest movie of all time. Never, and I mean never, was pure evil encapsulated as well as it was in the character The Joker in The Dark Knight. Every movement, gesture, nervous tic, and  line is calculated and made memorable by a truly brilliant performance. Heath Ledger deserves every bit of praise he gets for his portrayal as The Joker, not because of his unfortunate death, but because Heath Ledger played the greatest character ever put on screen to literal perfection.

Behind the masks and make-up of The Dark Knight, it is unquestionably the greatest example of good vs. evil that any story ever written or told has ever offered. Batman is good for the sake of being good and The Joker is evil for the sake of being evil. They need each because one is nothing without the other. Truly look into the stories of Batman and you’ll see that The Joker is just as important to the mythology as Batman is. The are the perfect example of enemies that other films aspire to have, but never will.

The Joker is a part played many times in the past, from Mark Hamill to even Jack Nicholson. He is the most important villain, not just in cinema, but in literature because he encapsulates the very idea of evil itself. Heath Ledger had a lot of work to do. In being asked to play The Joker, you’re being asked to give a truly magnificent performance or else its nothing we  haven’t seen before. Heath managed to give the greatest of all time due to the use of every single ounce of ability he had. Every emotion is the purest of all evil is felt due to a man showing as that performance is an truly an art form. All I can do is thank Heath Ledger and say that I undoubtedly feel that with The Joker, he gave us the greatest performance known to cinema.

#32 Alec Baldwin Scene (Glengarry Glenn Ross)

This is a fantastic scene that got Alec Baldwin nominated for a supporting actor oscar for just this 8 minute scene. It’s a great scene and he’s great in it.

Best Character: Blake

Best Quote: “Fuck you, that’s my name!”

Scene:

#46 Ricky Roma’s Rant Scene (Glengarry Glenn Ross)

A great scene with classic Al Pacino acting furiously yelling at another brilliant actor. Funny every single time.

Best Character: Ricky Roma

Best Quote: ” You Fairy”

Scene:

Righteous Kill Review

When I walked into Righteous Kill I was expecting two things. Entertaining acting jobs by Al Pacino and Robert De Niro and a decently good crime thriller. Well, I got the first one, but I can’t say the same for the second one. I’ve always liked Robert De Niro and Al Pacino, who hasn’t, but unlike most, I’ve always liked Al Pacino better than De Niro, probably always will. Same goes for this movie, I honestly think that Pacino is a better actor. It was entertaining to watch them work together, but they didn’t save the movie. I’ll say this, any other actors and this movie would’ve been absolutely terrible. 

So anyways, I went in expecting a crime thriller, but instead got a predictable attempt at something with a confusing plot, and terribly amateur and annoying editing that had no place in this movie. I went in expecting Departed and got an attempt to put a pair of masterful actors into the new teen rap and club scene. Instead of making the movie realistic and grisly they tried to make it a more mature teen movie. My biggest problem with the film was the fact that they tried to force what they thought would be a surprise ending on you, but any moron could pick up on it with the first 10 minutes and it just wasn’t clever at all. This is a dumb movie with brilliant actors and I hope they can work together again so they can redeem themselves from this mess of a film.

Grade: C

Quotes 4

See if you can get these:

  1.  Nah, not me, I don’t tip.
  2. The guy who kills me, I hope he kills me cause he hates my guts, not cause its his job.
  3. I bet they regret that, your so ugly you could be a modern art masterpiece.
Help:
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