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

Top 25 Movies

To a movie buff or someone who makes a site about movies, it’s essential to make Top Ten Lists. Some of my favorites to make were Top Ten Movie Directors and Top Ten Movie Villains. Top Ten lists are a very fun way to perfectly establish your opinion, but it is often a very difficult task. The most important and most difficult Top Ten List  to make is a list of your favorite films.

A Top Ten List of your favorite films has to be honest and completely encapsulate your take on films. I for one couldn’t do it. I do have a list of my top ten favorite films in this post, but I decided instead to post my Top 25 favorite movies of all time. Its a list that was practically impossible to make and will change as the years go on (I will edit the post if needed), but here we go. My Top 25 favorite films are…

25. To Kill A Mockingbird

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Gregory Peck is stunningly believable as Atticus Finch, one of the greatest fathers and heroes in cinema. To call To Kill A Mockingbird inspirational is an understatement. Like many great films, while inspiring, To Kill A Mockingbird is equally defeating. It’s a must-see film for every reason imaginable. The original novel is about the author’s actual childhood and the film doesn’t skimp on the thematic potential and tells the powerful tale through the eyes of the children.I have yet to have the pleasure of reading the original source material, but it sure made for one of the greatest films I’ll ever be blown away by.

24. Trainspotting

Trainspotting is a masterfully told film about herione-addicted misfits and friends in Scotland. Though disturbing and twisted throughout, Trainspotting still manages to stay unarguably beautiful, while entertaining from beginning to end. With Trainspotting, what you get is a pitch-perfect portrait of the very ideas of life in general, flawed and fun. Trainspotting is a true masterpiece of a film that makes you love, hate, laugh, cry and enjoy, among others.

23. Amarcord

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Federico Fellini beautifully portrays the memories of his youth and the town where he grew up. The movie is as poignant, colorful, hilarious and honest as life itself. To watch it is to be consumed by it. Fellini is one of if not arguably the greatest filmmaker to ever bless the silver screen with a work of true art and like a true artist, Fellini doesn’t just make pieces of art, with his movies what we are consumed by are pieces of himself.

22. The Lord of the Rings

The Lord of the Rings is unquestionably one movie. The Lord of the Rings is an epic in every sense of the word. That’s truly the best way it can be described. The Lord of the Rings has in it just about everything you could ever want in a movie; love, drama, adventure, friendship, a huge cast of memorable characters, a beautiful beginning, a magnificent middle, an epic ending and much, much more. The Lord of Rings is that kind of movie that other movies should aspire to be. It’s a movie that makes you realize why we love movies in the first place. It’s a truly sprawling epic of an adventure and one that inspires and enthralls every time.

21. 2001: A Space Odyssey

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Stanley Kubrick’s science fiction masterpiece is easily one of the most unforgettable and unbelievable experiences in cinema. Still visually striking to this day, but even more striking is Stanley Kubrick’s ambition. 2001: A Space Odyssey may very well be the most ambitious undertaking in cinema as Kubrick manages to tell the story of all of us and our very existence.

20. 12 Years A Slave

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With just three masterpieces under his belt, I can already say with confidence that Steve Mcqueen is one of my favorite filmmakers. He has somehow managed to one up himself with each movie he has made and it goes without saying that I can not wait to see what he has in store for us next time. Excuse me if I doubt he’ll be able to top his latest any time soon. 12 Years A Slave is the most raw, real and horrific excursion into the human tragedy that is slavery that I’ve ever witnessed. It’s also one of the most glorious articulations of love and hate ever crafted in the form of art.

19. Throne of Blood

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Never before has Akira Kurosawa captured atmosphere like he has in Throne of Blood. Like he does with all his masterworks, he poured his soul into this one and it shows in more ways than one, not the least in the portrayal of Washizu by his greatest collaborator, the awesome Toshiro Mifune. This may be his greatest performance as he plays the samurai version of Macbeth with unbelievable humanity. He manages to find a perfect balance between intimidating and completely fragile.

18. The Shining

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Stanley Kubrick’s greatest film is also the most beautiful, flawlessly crafted horror film I’ve ever seen. We walk through the doors of The Overlook Hotel and we witness evil. It’s an evil place and the tragedy that takes place there in is one I willingly experience over and over again. I’m drawn in and blown away by the mastery every single time. Stanley Kubrick was a man who was meant to make masterpieces, with The Shining you’ll find my favorite of those masterpieces.

17. Inside Llewyn Davis

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About Inside Llewyn Davis, The Coen Bros. were quoted as saying, “We wanted to make an odyssey where the hero doesn’t go anywhere”. Well in there search for nothing, the greatest duo in film have found everything you could ever want in an extraordinary piece of expression. The film is beautifully melancholy and resonates with its palpable reality and tone. The conclusion or lack there of is unmistakably profound and makes it one of the greatest films I’ll ever made. It surpasses almost every one of their remarkable masterpieces.

16. M

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It’s hard to swallow that M was made over 80 years ago. And yet it’s still as haunting as ever. Unlike many movies made before it and many movies made long after it, M is not a movie you would call dated. M is a seamlessly plotted psychological drama that will always be pondered over. There’s reason behind every choice Fritz Lang makes in the crafting of this timeless classic.

15. The Human Condition

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Whether he’s the protagonist or the antagonist, Tatsuya Nakadai always has a likability to him, which makes The Human Condition that much more painful as we witness what may be the most arduous journey ever depicted on film. With a title like “The Human Condition” you need a hero whose particularly human and that’s just what Kobayashi and Nakadai craft in the courageous, yet flawed Kaji. At over 9 and a half hours, The Human Condition makes for one of the most exhilarating and all-encompassing experiences in cinema.

14. Rashomon

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Akira Kurosawa creates pure cinematic poetry with Rashomon. Kurosawa may be the most influential director to ever make a film and in terms of craft, Rashomon is arguably one of, if not, the most influential of his films. Rashomon not only shows just how much can be done with the art of film, it also tells one of the most powerful stories ever told about stories, human nature and the enigma that lies there in. Rashomon can be viewed as Kurosawa’s entire life and his endless search for truth.

13. La Dolce Vita

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La Dolce Vita is a juggernaut of a film that is as bitter as it is oh so sweet. Federico Fellini captures stark black-and-white beauty in every frame as his first Marcello Mastroianni alter-ego searches hopelessly and shamelessly for “the sweet life”. The film is inspired by Fellini’s own past as a journalist and in a way challenges us to look into our own pasts as he has, learn and progress.

12. Ikiru

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Takashi Shimura breathes pure humanity into Akira Kurosawa’s masterpiece of a man searching for meaning in his final days. It is without a doubt a must-see for anyone and not just movie buffs, for it may be the most universal of all of Kurosawa’s masterworks. Kurosawa evokes life in Ikiru, literally “To Live”, and perhaps even more notably, death in an unbelievably fitting structure. It may not sound like the most original story ever told on film, but it’s certainly unlike anything I’ve ever seen and easily one of the most touching.

11. Yojimbo/Sanjuro

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Yojimbo/Sanjuro doesn’t tell one fluid story and in fact you could watch either of the flawless masterpieces first and all would make sense, for you’d still be watching just one of two endlessly viewable portraits of the life and times of a masterless and wandering samurai. Toshiro Mifune’s nameless samurai is the heart and hero of Yojimbo/Sanjuro and he makes for one of if not the most badass character in film. Akira Kurosawa is a master of the craft and can accomplish realism with ease, but with Yojimbo/Sanjuro he presents one of the most fun and fantastically captivating adventures in film.

10. The Master

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In The Master there is not a single beautiful shot or brilliant line of dialogue out of place. Paul Thomas Anderson has a way of getting the best performance out of at least one of his actors and in this case Joaquin Phoenix gives the best performance of his career, which is saying a lot because Joaquin Phoenix is an incredible actor. Some could even make an argument for Philip Seymour Hoffman in this masterpiece. The film is a magnificent and dark enigma. Paul Thomas Anderson just knows how to make a movie and he proves that with his sixth film, The Master, a gorgeous film about choice, obedience, control and freedom.

9. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest

One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest is undoubtedly one of the greatest feats in Cinematic history. One Flew is a beautiful and enthralling tale of the life and times of Randall Patrick McMurphy in a mental hospital. Jack Nicholson gives the performance of his illustrious career. Through the friends he meets, the schemes he pulls and most of all the enemy he makes, we get a story filled with brilliant morals and themes. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest is an incredibly entertaining film, an inspirational masterpiece.

8. Apocalypse Now

Apocalypse Now is Francis Ford Coppola’s flawless masterpiece. Coppola gets endless praise for his brilliant work, The Godfather, but its Apocalypse Now that he should be remembered for. Apocalypse Now is and forever will be a truly epic war film that brings you on an amazing journey deep into the heart of darkness. The film builds and builds almost to the point of promising you one of the greatest climaxes in film and gives you just that. Apocalypse Now is equal parts violent and philosophical, a truly indelible masterpiece.

7. There Will Be Blood

There Will Be Blood is tremendous in the way that it tells a story through through the eyes of a single man and examines not the dream, but the american nightmare. It’s one of the greatest character study ever made and without a perfect portrayal of this antihero it wouldn’t be the flawless film it is. Daniel Day-Lewis gives one of the greatest performances I’ve ever seen as Daniel Plainview, a depraved oil man whose mask slides off  revealing a complete lack of humanity. The drama and rivalry that ensues once Plainview begins drilling makes for one of the most monumental and gorgeous pieces of art I’ll ever bare witness to. There Will Be Blood is unique, real, but at the same time larger than life and monumentally powerful. There Will Be Blood is a beautifully-woven masterpiece in which we watch in horror as an ambitious oilman loses any remnants of a soul.

6. No Country for Old Men

The Coen Brother’s are, unquestionably,  two of the greatest filmmakers of all time and this is their greatest feat. No Country is a beautifully violent film filled with unstoppably moralistic power. It’s a blood-soaked tale told magnificently through subtleties, a film that is truly perfect in every way imaginable. No Country for Old Men tells, what seems to be on the surface, a simplistic tale of cat and mouse. A chess game, if you will, between an average joe who happens upon a suitcase full of drug money and a ruthlessly intelligent killer who has no empathy what so ever and will stop at nothing. The powerful tale that is realized with No Country for Old Men is one of violence, malevolence and art. No Country for Old Men is a masterpiece in every single sense of the word.

5. Ran

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Ran is an epic tragedy of gargantuan proportions. At 75-years-old Akira Kurosawa still knew exactly how to make a film and not just any film, but a monumental achievement as only a truly magnificent artist could have envisioned and realized. From the first frame to the last I am swept away to this vast and evolving world. Ran is on a whole other level of filmmaking. It defies and tramples over any expectation you could have in a film by any director and this is the director. It astounds with every passing second. Discussing it here could never do it justice. Like all true masterpieces, Ran is a film one must experience for themselves.

4. Harakiri

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Anyone who enjoys the occasional movie owes it to themselves to bask in the glory and perfection that is Harakiri. It begins simply enough, a samurai walks into the house of the Iyi clan and asks to commit Harakiri (the ritual suicide of a samurai). Harakiri offers one of the most engrossing movie experiences ever and on top of that it’s one of the most important. Tatsuya Nakadai makes Hanshiro Tsugumo one of the most captivating characters in film as the one man willing to take a stand against the powers that be. Harakiri tells its compelling story that captivates from start to finish and long after once you begin pondering about all the film has to say, not exclusively bringing into question the meaning of honor. Harakiri tells an endlessly powerful story which by the end proves to be one of the greatest ever told.

3. The Dark Knight Legend

Batman Begins is nothing short of the perfect hero’s journey. We are brought on the wondrous, yet arduous journey of one man as he becomes the greatest hero of all time, Batman. It is a story that asks and answers the question, what makes a hero? And it does so flawlessly and without once being anything, but completely enjoyable. It is monumental, there is an eloquence to it, it is a masterpiece and it was only the beginning. The Dark Knight is unlike any other story or film ever created in the way that is a pure, spectacular and perfect examination of good and evil. The Dark Knight takes the symbol for good established in Batman Begins and brings him to the darkest corners of existence when he goes toe-to-toe with a symbol for evil and the greatest villain in history, The Joker. The Joker is evil for the sake of being evil, while Batman is good for the sake of being good. To see this poetically constant battle unfold between the two is to see nothing short of some of the greatest cinema of all time.

The Dark Knight Rises is a sweeping epic that defines the story that has been being told and offers the greatest end in the history of film. While Batman Begins was about Batman and The Dark Knight was about Batman and The Joker, The Dark Knight Rises is about the beating heart of Gotham and the people who are willing to fight to keep it beating. It can be viewed as Batman’s final trial into the status of a legend. It is an extraordinary masterpiece that brings the story to its inevitable conclusion. The Dark Knight Legend (or The Dark Knight Trilogy if that tastes better going down) is Christopher Nolan’s magnum opus through and through. I care about this story and these characters and the events that transpire. As if it were poetry or Shakespearean, this story actually has alot to say and it says alot to me personally. Whether it be The Joker, Bane, Batman, Catwoman, Jim Gordon, Alfred, Ra’s Al Ghul, Talia Al Ghul, Scarecrow or any of the other magnificent characters in this story on the screen I am hooked. I’m involved and engrossed because I care about these characters and what they add to the majesty of it all.

2. 8 1/2

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I’m a bit lost for words when it comes to 8 1/2. And I mean how fitting that I find it hard to collect my thoughts and actually produce something when it comes to 8 1/2. I don’t know if there is a movie in existence other than 8 1/2 that calls to mind the phrase “speaks for itself”. Federico Fellini’s masterpiece is truly something you must experience to believe.

“I thought my ideas were so clear. I wanted to make an honest film. No lies whatsoever. I thought I had something so simple to say. Something useful to everybody. A film that could help bury forever all those dead things we carry within ourselves. Instead, I’m the one without the courage to bury anything at all. When did I go wrong? I really have nothing to say, but I want to say it all the same.” Federico speaks honestly through Guido and to us and from the beginning of 8 1/2 to end Fellini bares all that he has and is.

In personifying himself in 8 1/2, Federico Fellini has crafted a work of art for us and about us. In telling the story of a director finding his voice we realize the similar challenges we all face. He effortlessly uses Guido’s tale as an allegory depicting for all of us from a whimsical dream of a birth to the stage we leave behind. I defy anyone to witness 8 1/2 and not find a little piece of themselves as it is the most personal film I’ve ever seen, if not the most personal and progressive film ever made. It is not only one of the greatest films ever made, but one of the most glorious and beautiful pieces of art I will ever bask in.

1. Seven Samurai

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Akira Kurosawa is the greatest artist to ever craft a piece of art and Seven Samurai is his greatest and my favorite movie. No other film offers the reality, the escape, the journey, the camaraderie, the inspiration, the honesty, the heroism, the humanity, the growth, the truth and the beauty that Seven Samurai overflows with. It is the true masterwork of a man who consistently worked to better himself and his incomparable craft.

Not just the film as a whole, but every painstaking detail from character to camera movement to cut is a living, breathing thing with purpose and resonance. I am in awe by it and the master craftsman who made it all possible to say the least. This is a film as only Akira Kurosawa could make. Auteurs have their recognizable trends and styles, but Kurosawa’s trend is consistently progressing, starting from scratch and delving into an entirely new world and feeling. Seven Samurai is like no other film, not even an Akira Kurosawa film as no two Kurosawa films are even close to the same (other than of course the companion pieces Yojimbo and Sanjuro, but that’s neither here nor there).

Seven Samurai tells a seemingly simple story about a village, some bandits and seven samurai. Akira Kurosawa tells his tale and fills it to the brim with as much profound substance and beauty as a single film could have and then some. The film could not have been made any other way. No detail could have been changed. Every character and sequence amounts to the unbelievable epic at hand. I am wholly invested in every second of the film. It dramatically capitalizes on all the potent emotion you could ever ask for in a single film. It’s fun and funny, it’s sad, it’s overwhelming in its scope and it’s a visionary work of art and magic. Seven Samurai is my favorite film and the greatest piece of art ever crafted.

 

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Invictus Review

From a far, Invictus looked like a movie with a lot of potential. On the one had you have Clint Eastwood in the directors chair and on the other you have Morgan Freeman in a role he was born to play, Nelson Mandella.  Unfortunately, Invictus wasn’t able to follow through as well as I hoped.

Invictus told the uplifting tale of a rugby team bent on winning the world cup in South Africa in order to bring the country together. It’s a very inspirational tale, but it just feels as though its all been done before and much better for that matter. Clint Eastwood is one of my favorite directors, but with this movie it really just felt like he was trying to make a good-feeling best picture contender. He’s just done so much better with masterpieces like Mystic River and Unforgiven under his belt. It was a little disappointing.

To shed some light on this movie, I must say I absolutely loved Morgan Freeman. He was fantastic, a performance certainly worthy of the nomination it will get. As I said before, he was born to play this role and I’m actually surprised he hadn’t played Mandella sooner. He was phenomenal. Matt Damon on the other, I wasn’t a huge fan of in this film. I’ve never been a huge Damon fan, but he has surprised me in the past. This film was one of those cases.

Overall, with Eastwood’s directing and Freeman’s performance, Invictus made for a decent movie, while it could’ve been great. After watching Invictus, I came to realize I would’ve much rather seen a movie centered around Nelson Mandella’s life and election. I believe that would’ve made for a much better movie.

Grade: C+

Top Ten Westerns

This is a list I’ve truly been prepping for, for about a year now. About a year ago I had only seen a couple westerns that I had actually enjoyed (a few of those made this list), and I realized as a lover of movies I have not seen nearly enough westerns. So, I filled my netflix queue and got to watching and enjoying. I realized two things while watching the many westerns I did.

First of all, I’m quite sorry to say and I know many won’t agree with this statement and might even just X out of this page as soon as they read it, but an opinion’s an opinion and I’m not gonna lie to agree with society. I found John Wayne to be overrated. I’m just not a fan. I liked a few of his movies, such as The Searchers and The Shootist, and my favorite would probably have to be The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, but that didn’t even make the list. It probably would be 11 or 12 though if I were to add on to this list.

Secondly, and much more importantly, I realized that the Western genre is one of my favorites and this list would be harder to make than I thought. I was very right. Through watching this dying genre I found not only fantastic westerns, but also some of the greatest movies I’ve seen of all time. Well, I’ve been waiting to do this for a long time now. Here are my top ten favorite westerns.

10. Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid

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At the heart of this classic lies what may be the most iconic duo of all time. Paul Newman and Robert Redford play so impeccably well off each other that every scene is made real and memorable. The timing of every witty crack is absolutely perfect, the action sequences are highly entertaining, while sticking to realism and the finale is breathtaking.

9. Tombstone

Tombstone is a fantastic film that  was a shoe in for this list. Tombstone is the greatest telling of the now classic tale of Wyatt Earp and Doc Holiday. There are many memorable parts, from the classic OK coral shoot-out, to Holiday’s tricks with a tea cup in a bar. There’s something for everyone in this flick because even if you don’t find solace in the fantastic scenes, you will certainly find enjoyment out of Val Kilmer’s masterful performance as Doc Holiday.

8. The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford

This is one of the newest westerns to be placed on this list and in my eyes this movie is a breath of fresh air because it showed that great westerns can still be made today. Brad Pitt and Casey Affleck are phenomenal. A brilliant cast and script was combined to tell the very true and quite epic tale of the assassination of one of the most famous western outlaws there ever was.

7. For A Few Dollars More

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For A Few Dollars More is a fascinating character study of bounty hunters in the old west. It’s the second film in Sergio Leone’s Man With No Name Trilogy, but as with every movie in the Dollars trilogy, it stands alone as its own fantastic story. Clint Eastwood and Lee Van Cleef make for a very interesting and entertaining pair in the old west. Leone builds tension, keeps you guessing, and in the end he most certainly does not disappoint.

6. The Proposition

The Proposition is another western that is relatively new. It was made only a few years ago and I believe it is one of the greatest westerns of all time, only surpassed by some of the greatest movies I’ve ever seen. The plot of The Proposition is genuinely simple, yet superbly poetic. In the Australian Outback, a man is hired to kill his older brother in order to save his younger one from the noose. It’s the most brutal western I’ve seen and it never lets up till its pitch-perfect ending.

5. True Grit

The Coen Brother’s never cease to amaze and with their remake of the now classic John Wayne movie, they do more than that. True Grit is undoubtedly the most light-hearted of their films I’ve seen and the most light-hearted western. It’s also the one that feels the most real. Like almost all westerns, True Grit tells a simple tale, but because of the people who are telling the tale, what you get is something unbelievably moving.

4. Once Upon a Time in the West

Sergio Leone’s complex, gritty, western tale of revenge and mayhem is so amazing that it was hard to even put it at just number three. I’m going to say this right now, Sergio Leone builds tension better than Hitchcock does. Every single scene from the (waiting for the train) opening to the final showdown, your always on edge. I’d also like to say that Ennio Morricone is probably the greatest film composer in history. Westerns almost always have fantastic scores, but this is my favorite of any western score.

Last, but certainly not least I have to mention Henry Fonda’s flawless performance as the ruthless western gunslinger Frank, certainly out of character for him; his best work. This is some of Sergio Leone’s best work. A film that builds and builds with a well thought out, detailed and at times even complex plot that ends up being a very simple tale of good vs. evil. Sergio Leone’s masterpiece is the third greatest western I’ve seen.

3. The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

Most commonly called the classic western and for good reason. The Good, the Bad and the Ugly is nothing and I repeat nothing short of a masterpiece. If I’m not mistaken I think the Man With No Name trilogy is the only trilogy that truly gets greater with each film. Leone’s skill for building tension, which has been attempted, but never matched, was never greater than in every single, intricately plotted, scene of this movie.

What Sergio Leone, Clint Eastwood (Blondie-The Good) , Lee Van Cleef (Angel Eyes-The Bad) and Eli Wallach (Tuco- The Ugly) have given us is masterful look at the west, the adventures, and the subsequent stories that were inspired. A story full of depth and characters, whether that be the good guys, the bad guys, and the ones in between. A timeless epic that savors my hunger for excellence with each passing scene eventually leading to what is probably the most iconic and greatest western showdown/ending ever put on screen. And for this, from the bottom of my heart, I thank them.

2. Django Unchained

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Django Unchained is about a hero of mythical proportions on a quest for love. It’s a tale of friendship and taking a stand against the savagery of slavery. It’s a spaghetti western and an epic legend with all the blood and violence of the west and the heroes and villains you find in legends. It’s finds a balance between the intense drama that’s playing out and the rollicking good time that it is. It’s a magnificent story as only Quentin Tarantino could’ve told.

It’s hard not to root for Django in his vengeful and loving journey. It’s hard to to jump up and cheer when the whip or gun is turned back on the slaver. Dr. King Schultz can see slavery for what it is and he sees Django as a man and a friend in need. Only together can they attempt to conquer the Candyland and the ignorant villainy that lies within. Django Unchanged is ridiculously entertaining and unbelievably powerful.

1. Unforgiven

As I said in the past, this was a difficult list to make, but there is not a doubt in my mind when it comes to number one. Clint Eastwood starred in many classic westerns including Sergio Leone’s classic Man With No Name Trilogy. Then he directed some of his own great westerns. His knowledge on the genre grew over years of experience and he eventually gave us the greatest western of all time. Unforgiven is the western that was able to do what no other western was able to. It showed us what the west really was. Unforgiven showed us that a ruthless killer could fall off his horse or miss a shot.

Unforgiven shows the realistic West where no one could really be considered the good guy, not even the guy your rooting for (William Munny- Clint Eastood in an Oscar nominated performance) ,  and especially not the sheriff (Little Bill Dagget- Gene Hackman in an Oscar winning performance). Unforgiven was a masterful look into a world we’ve never seen. We thought we had, but we realize now that was all just fantasy. Unforgiven mixes dark realism with the  fantasy Western genre. Add brilliant acting and characters, fantastic writing and direction and the result is not only the greatest western of all time, but one of the greatest movies ever made. A true masterpiece of our time worthy of recognition and praise.

Top Ten Movie Directors

I made this list a while back, but I was looking back over my site recently and I’m not ashamed to say this, but I did not spend nearly enough time on this list. So I’ve re-watched some movies, watched some new ones, re-evaluated my thoughts and I’ve decided to re write this list. This list consists of ten of the greatest minds and artists of our time. I’m proud to give them my money every time I hear their name attached to a movie and especially when their name is on the director’s chair.

Along with the name of the director I’ve also included a description of exactly why they’re on this list and also my three favorite movies in order by said director. It was one of the most difficult lists I’ve had to make, but one I believe all movie critics should divulge their time in creating.

Before I get into the actual list I’d like to give you a few honorable mentions in no particular order. These are all incredible artists who just barely missed the mark:

  • Oliver Stone
  • Guy Ritchie
  • Tim Burton
  • Ridley Scott
  • Alfred Hitchcock
  • Nicolas Winding Refn
  • Peter Jackson
  • Darren Aronofsky
  • Sergio Leone
  • Steven Spielberg
  • Milos Forman

Now here’s my top ten favorite cinematic directors of all time:

10. Clint Eastwood

Many people know and love Eastwood for his acting, which he does triumph in, but in my opinion his true genius lies behind the camera. He almost never disappoints and is my favorite director in the western genre. After making his masterpiece Unforgiven, he showed that he surpasses even his large influence Sergio Leone. He takes his craft seriously and he excels in it.

3. Gran Torino

2. Mystic River

1. Unforgiven

9. Francis Ford Coppola

It’s unbelievable that I’m forced to put a director as spectacular as Francis Ford Coppola in this slot. His films clearly speak for themselves. Coppola has a certain way about him that makes all of his films so utterly epic and breath-taking. The Godfather is considered to be, by many, one of the greatest films in movie history and even though I enjoy has Vietnam masterpiece more, it’s completely obvious why, it was directed by one of the greatest artists ever.

3. Tetro

2. The Godfather Part 1+2

1. Apocalypse Now

8. Danny Boyle

Like all truly great directors, Danny Boyle has managed to establish a clear and brilliant style, while telling different tales and expressing completely different ideas. Danny Boyle always manages to find his own way in telling a story and the stories he chooses to tell are always undeniably memorable. He puts so much unflinching feeling in every one of his films and as a result I find myself feeling for all of the characters he establishes. Danny Boyle is truly a man who knows his trade and performs expertly.

3. 28 Days Later

2. 127 Hours

1. Trainspotting

7. David Fincher

David Fincher has really become a powerhouse of  utter genius. There’s no arguing that he really is one of the greatest film directors not just working today, but of all time. He defined a generation with his masterpiece in 1999 and over ten years later he does the exact same thing for another generation.  He also never ceases to amaze with other films, whether its Zodiac or even The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. David Fincher really is a true master of a gneration and of his craft and his expertise cannot be doubted.

3. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

2. The Social Network

1. Fight Club

6. Martin Scorsese

The hardest part in creating this list was attempting to order this top 6. Each in my opinion is worthy of the number one spot, but I had to figure out an order. It really saddens me that I had to put the incredible director Martin Scorsese this low on the list, but I can’t let everyone win. Martin Scorsese is undoubtedly a creator of modern masterpieces. No one makes films like him and very few make films as good as he does. Martin Scorsese didn’t invent the beautiful art of filmmaking, but being the genius he is, he sure perfected it.

3. Taxi Driver

2. Goodfellas

1. The Departed

5. Stanley Kubrick

Stanley Kubrick is all around one of the greatest directors of all time, mainly because he has more innovation and variety than any other filmmaker. He’s really done it all. He’s made horror movies, war movies, dramas, science-fiction, romance, heist movies, even comedies, and I could go on. Each one of his films are worth watching and making opinions on. You will find at least one that you will thoroughly enjoy. Or you might just be exactly like me and notice that every single movie the genius made was truly and relentlessly brilliant.

3. Full Metal Jacket

2. 2001: A Space Odyssey

1. The Shining

4. Paul Thomas Anderson

There is something truly miraculous about Paul Thomas Anderson in the way he makes each of his films completely special and prominent, while sticking with his keen directorial style. Each of his movies are so big and not because most of them are longer than the average film, but because all of his films touch on so many themes and emotions while never ceasing to entertain. He’s only got five films under his belt and he can already be considered one of the greatest directors known to film. I just can’t wait to see what he does next.

3. Punch-Drunk Love

2. Boogie Nights

1. There Will Be Blood

3. Quentin Tarantino

Through the years Quentin Tarantino has always stuck out as one of the greatest directors of all time. He began his illustrious career with the fantastically unique heist flick Reservoir Dogs, then he showed us what he can really do by directing one of the greatest movies of all time, Pulp Fiction. Time passed and he directed the spectacles that were Jackie Brown, Kill Bill and Death Proof. Every single one is fantastic. He then showed me that he is one of the greatest artists not only working today, but of all time with the release of Inglourious Basterds.

Pulp Fiction is one of the greatest movies of all time and I didn’t think for a second that Tarantino would ever be able o top that. I was wrong. He did and he did it with flying colors and flare. I love all of Tarantino’s work and I don’t believe I will ever find myself being disappointed by a movie he directs. He has fun with every movie he makes. He loves what he does and as a result I love and have fun with every single masterpiece he comes up with.

3. Kill Bill

2. Pulp Fiction

1. Inglourious Basterds

2. The Coen Brothers

Their movies really speak for themselves, there’s not much I can really say. The industry wouldn’t be the same without them. They are a monumental force releasing masterpiece after masterpiece. Its really impossible to ever be disappointed with a Coen Brother movie. They make films exactly how they want to make films, they let nothing hold them back like money or popularity. They make art for the sake of making art.

They’ve made more masterpieces than one would think possible. They absolutely never let you down. They are the smartest people working in the industry by far.  I honestly want to shed a tear of joy with every ending of each of their movies because it seems almost impossible that the same two people can keep making masterpieces without fail for this long. The best part about it is also that The Coen Brothers still have a lot more masterpieces to go and that fact makes me happy to be alive.

3. True Romance

2. Barton Fink

1. No Country For Old Men

1. Christopher Nolan

Christopher Nolan isn’t in the movie business, he’s in the masterpiece business. He just oozes brilliance and all he has the ability to make is flawless films. No shot, performance, or second is lacking in perfection. He tells gargantuan stories that end up being nothing short of magnificent. Even my least favorite Nolan film, Insomnia, I find just incredible.

Don’t even me started on movies I couldn’t live without such as his dark tale of obsession and rivalry The Prestige, or the independent masterpiece that put him on the map Memento, or even the always enthralling and unbelievably extraordinary Inception. There’s something special, almost magical, that Nolan manages to instill in every single brush stroke in the beautiful art he creates.

One of the main reasons I consider Christopher Nolan one of my heroes and the greatest director/artist of all time is because he is the man responsible for my favorite story ever told. The Dark Knight Legend (or Trilogy if that tastes better going down) is and always will be nothing short of the greatest movie ever created. I love every character and event as they add to the perfection of it all. It wasn’t a hard decision to make, but Christopher Nolan is the greatest director in all of film.

3. Memento

2. Inception

1. The Dark Knight Legend

Top 25 Best Performances of 2008

2008 was a great year for film and most of all it was a great year for performances. I decided a while ago I wanted to make a list involving performances this year and I just could not bring myself to making it a top ten because there were way to many good performances this year. I finally decided on a top 25 and I’m proud of my list. I think most will enjoy it too. What I love about this year was every performance should such a wide range in emotion, sure some more than others, but I’ve thought long and hard about this list and here it is:

25. Viggo Mortenson (Appaloosa)

Viggo Mortenso always does a good job and its very unfortunate that he doesn’t get that many roles to work with. Then when he does have a really good role, like he had las year in Eastern Promises, there’s always someone better (Dainel Day-Lewis). One day he’ll win an oscar, but until that day I’ll just watch him in great roles like this.

24. Tom Wilkinson (RockNRolla)

Tom Wilkinson is a fantastic actor and sure you sort of hate the character he’s playing here, but that was sort of the point and he’s absolutely perfect in this role. He had the same type of role in Batman Begins and he got o change it and expand on it here. I loved every second.

23. Daniel Craig (Quantum of Solace)

Daniel Craig is the perfect Bond. There is not one person I would rather see playing this part. The movie wasn’t as good as the first (only cause the first was amazing), but Craig stayed consistent and that’s very nice to see.

22. Tom Cruise (Tropic Thunder)

I absolutely hate Tom Cruise with a passion, I do not like him at all, never will. Least favorite actors: Tom Cruise and Ben Afflek I did not like Tropic Thunder at all, but the only parts I did laugh involved Tom Cruise. It pains me to say this, but he was hilaurious, I loved every short second with his character.

21. Gary Oldman (The Dark Knight)

Here we find a fantastic actor in a very different role, normally you would probably find Gary Oldman playing some kind of villain, whether he’s a drug dealing pimp (True Romance), an intergalactic salesman (The Fifth Element), or even a crazed dirty cop (The Professional). Here he’s one of the few good cops in the city he’s trying so hard to help save and he’s absolutely fantastic.

20. Josh Brolin (Milk)

Josh Brolin didn’t have as big a part as you would’ve hoped in Milk, but he worked with what he got and created a spectacular performance. This is a very different character than you’ve ever seen him play and he chewed up every second he was on screen. He ofcourse didn’t have the best performance in Milk, but was a close second.

19. Jeremy Irons (Appaloosa)

Jeremy Irons is a fantastic actor, who once again doesn’t get enough work. I love all roles I’ve seen him in and here is a western where he plays a gunslinging villain. I get chills just thinking about it. He does a fantastic job, and as always plays a highly believable villain here.

18. Robert Downey Jr. (Iron Man)

This was a great year for Robert Downey Jr. and he found his best performance of the year in a cocky and sarcastic billionaire he in his spare time flys in a battle suit and saves lives. Robert Downey Jr. was fantastic in a role you could just tell he had a blast playing. 

17. Mark Strong (RockNRolla)

RockNRolla had many likable characters, and even more likable actors, as do all of Guy Ritchie’s movies. One stood out above the rest and that was Mark Strong who played Archie, the loyal right hand man to the crime boss Lenny Cole (Tom Wilkinson). He was amazing. It might be in part that I hadn’t seen him in any movies before, but either way, RockNRolla deserves a watch by all if only just to view his performance.

16. Brad Pitt (Burn After Reading)

Brad Pitt is shortly becoming one of my favorites. If you can forget about roles he played in Mr. and Mrs. Smith and the Ocean’s movies, he’s actually a really good actor. In Burn After Reading, he’s absolutely perfect as the dim-witted, peppy, gym worker, he stumbles onto something bigger (or actually probably smaller) than he thinks. 

15. Sam Rockwell (Choke)

Choke was a highly disappointing movie especially sense the book was a masterpiece, but that doesn’t exclude the fact that Sam Rockwell was born to play this role. Victor is an amazing character and you needed a great actor to play him and no one, and I repeat, no one would’ve been able to be better than Sam Rockwell in this role.

14. Dev Patel (Slumdog Millionaire)

Dev Patel was fantastic and I’m thinking that because I haven’t seen him in other movies and that’s why he made this part so real, but all I can say is that he was great and played the role to its full potential.

13. Michael Caine (The Dark Knight)

Michael Caine is a really good actor and here we find him in a perfect role that could be played by many actors, but absolutely no one could’ve played it better. He had a much bigger part in this film as opposed to the first and that made me very happy, because he made every second golden.

12. Christian Bale (The Dark Knight)

Christian Bale is the perfect Batman. People say how he has a corny voice and it just annoys the crap out of me. What people don’t understand is that Christian Bale is ten times that Batman that George Clooney, Val Kilmer, Adam West, or Michael Keaton will ever be. He’s better because he knows, unlike them, is that Batman has to be three different people. The cocky Bruce Wayne you show to the public, the real Bruce Wayne you show to Alfred, and Batman. He plays the part perfect, I have zero complaints. The voice is amazing.

11. Ralph Fiennes (In Bruges)

Ralph Fiennes is fantastic in what ever he does. Bad movie, good movie, doesn’t matter, he’s good always. In Bruges is a great movie and he’s incredible in it as, the fast-talking, loud and dirty mouthed crime boss. He unfortunately just barely misses my top ten. He’s fantastic in all movies, but especially in this one.

10. Russel Crowe (Body of Lies)

Russel Crowe is on and off for me, but in my opinion, you find in Body of Lies, what I feel to be one of his best roles. He’s not a villain, but he’s definately not a hero. He’s a sleazy fat guy who trys to do the right things in the wrong ways, but never gets screwed, he has others get screwed for him. Russel Crowe was great and was the perfect choice for a this great character.

9. Aaron Eckhart (The Dark Knight)

Aaron Eckhart is an up and coming actor. He’s going places, he was amazing in Thank You For Smoking and he’s amazing here. He plays a very entertaining role the goes from pure good, to almost pure evil. He plays the role to perfection and not many actors could’ve. 

8. Richard Dreyfuss (W.)

W. was a great movie and it was great in part because of Richard Dreyfuss’s performance. He plays Dick Cheney, whose actually sort of the villain in this pitch -perfect biopic of our most recent president. The movie was great and he’s great in it. He made such a great transformation, I actually looked past his highly recognizable voice and had to wait for the credits to role to figure out it was him. 

7. Brad Pitt (The Curious Case of Benjamin Button)

Once again Brad Pitt proves that he’s becoming better and better with each role he plays. The Curious Case of Bejamin Button is no different. This would be a very tough role to play for anyone, but Brad Pitt played it to perfection. This was a long movie, but it felt shorter than it was because of this performance.

6. Josh Brolin (W.)

Whether you liked W. or not, you had to admit that Josh Brolin was fantastic as Bush. He got everything down pact. This was a movie that had to be driven by performances and direction. Well, your gonna have the direction if you got Oliver Stone and they certainly got the the performances in Richard Dreyfuss and especially there leading man, Josh Brolin.

5. Clint Eastwood (Gran Torino)

It’s pretty unfortunate that this very well could be Eastwood’s final movie. I pray that it’s not, but either way this was the perfect role for him and he played it to perfection. He had to be grumpy and racist, but then he had to make the transformation to hero and because of his incredible performance, this was a really goo movie.

4. Sean Penn (Milk)

Well for my top 5, number 4 was much better than 5, and pretty close to 3, while 3 and 2 are basically a tie, and 1 is so far beyond the others to the point of insanity, but here we are at 4 and we find Sean Penn’s name. He was amazing in Milk and this was probably his best role. He deserves all the praise he’s getting, but he does not deserve the oscar. Sean Penn made the role his own and did it with flying colors. He was FAN-freakin-TASTIC, but unfortunately this was a year of amazing performances and there were a few better than him. 

3. Mickey Rourke (The Wrestler)

Mickey Rourke performed masterfully in The Wrestler. He was showed such large amounts of emotion and he made every feeling so real. It saddens me to put him this far from the top because I could name a lot of years where I would’ve most certainly given him the top spot. Some people are saying that he didn’t do as good as others just because he’s supposedly just like the character he’s playing, well that’s load of crap and actually probably compliment to him because your saying he’s a better actor. Mickey Rourke deserves more roles and after this perfect performance, I see many to come.

2. Frank Langella (FROST/NIXON)

The number 3 and number 2, as I said before are basically tied for second in acting ability, but I just had to give Frank Langella the second spot because he just showed more of a transformation and much more charisma in what is unfortunately a much more entertaining character. Frank Langella deserves the oscar, even though he probably won’t get it. I’ve read in a couple places that he’s more Nixon than Nixon is. That doesn’t make kuch sense for someone who hasn’t seen the movie, but it completely makes sense. Langella fully embodies our 37th president, whether is the voice, the posture, or the ticks, he made a role to be remembered.

1. Heath Ledger (The Dark Knight)

Anyone who reads my sight probably saw this coming, but here’s the thing. I don’t just think this is the greatest performance of the year, I truthfully think this is the best performance I’ve ever seen. It’s not just the fact that Heath Ledger passed on and I’m just giving him a pity vote. I believe he will and would’ve won the oscar either way (knock on wood). If he doesn;t win the oscar, I will never watch the oscars again, which will be very hard for me, because I love watching the oscars, but if Heath Ledger does not win, in no way does it deserve my viewing or anyones viewing for that matter. Every moment The Joker appeared on screen I just stopped breathing for a second because I didn’t want to miss a second. He made absolutely every word he spoke memorable and he created the greatest character ever put on screen. Heath Ledger created a character with nervous ticks, subtle emotions, and feeling ironically only for the one person he’s supposed to hate. In Heath Ledger’s character we learn not only, that there is no good without evil, but also we learn what acting is truly about.