A truly gifted actor is an amazing thing to see in action. The good ones have the ability to make you forget where you are and what you’re doing by drawing you in and convincing you you’re in a different place seeing a drama unfold before your eyes. The great ones go even further beyond that and make you believe you’re looking at a totally different person. They take on the essence of different characters seemingly at will. Actors are a dime a dozen. Good actors are hard to find. Great actors are extremely rare, and when you find one, enjoy their work as much as you can.
Just as film themselves are subjective, to some degree so are the performances of actors who play in them. One actor may give a performance that truly hits home with a viewer… while the exact same performance may not move another viewer in the least. Having conceded that point, there are a handful of actors TODAY that I believe stand out above the rest of the crowd. Some of them may be jerks in real life, some of them may have little or no box office success, but when it comes down to pure acting ability and talent, I hold that these following names represent the best working in Hollywood today.
And so, for your consideration, I now present to you The Movie Blog’s Top 10 Best Actor’s Working Today list:
|#10 – DON CHEADLE
Another Boogie Nights Alumni. You know what, even if Cheadle hadn’t done any other movie in his career I’d still be tempted to put him on this list just for his incredible work in Hotel Rwanda. One of the few actors who can smoothly transition from drama to comedy and back again effortlessly. Crash, Oceans, Reign Over Me, and his performance in Traitor is one of the best I’ve ever seen in a bad film. This guy is going to be around for a very long time.
|#9 – RALPH FIENNES
Considering the career this guy has had already it’s a bit surprising that he only has 2 Oscar nominations so far (The English Patient and Schindler’s List). I hope with all my being that he gets a best supporting nomination this year for his performance in In Bruges which was just ridiculously fantastic. He (and his brother for that matter) kicks all sorts of ass. Shame all the kiddies will just grow up knowing him a Voldemort
|#8 – CHIWETEL EJIOFOR
The most shocking thing to me about the movie Serenity wasn’t how badly it bombed at the box office, but rather the almost completely ignored villain in the movie “the operative”. Ejiofor gave us one of the absolute best screen villains in ages, and yet no one, even those who saw and liked Serenity, talked about him. Well I noticed him, and since then every single performance he’s given has been nothing short of exceptional. Talk To Me, Children Of Men, American Gangster and he’s just getting started.
|#7 – BRAD PITT
For years this guy got absolutely no respect as an actor because we were all sick of seeing his face all over the teen heart throb magazines in the grocery store. Well, as it turns out, the man just happens to be one of the best actors alive too. His defining role to me was in Twelve Monkeys, which is still one of the most incredible performances in a supporting role I’ve ever seen in a movie, but he’s also showed great diversity as well from action, to comedy to drama. Mr. and Mrs. Smith, Se7en, Fight Club, Seven Years In Tibet, Snatch, Assassination of Jesse James… and now people are already talking Oscar for his upcoming The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.
|#6 – SEAN PENN
There are those out there who will disparage Sean Penn as an actor simply because they don’t like his politics and the fact that he’s so vocal about it. Fact of the matter is though that he’s a four time Oscar nominee (Dead Man Walking, Sweet And Lowdown, I Am Sam, Mystic River) and winning once for Mystic River. Clint Eastwood once said “There just isn’t anyone better”.
|#5 – WILLIAM HURT
I know he’s not the “cool” thing anymore, but for my money William Hurt is STILL one of the very best damn actors out there today. LIke Sean Penn, 4 Oscar nominations to his credit with one win (Kiss Of The Spider Woman *win*, Children of a Lesser God, Broadcast News, A History of Violence) and I personally thought he was totally robed of a nomination for his role in Mr. Brooks last year. This man, for decades now, just continues to bring it time after time after time. He doesn’t get the sexy high profile roles anymore, and that’s a damn shame because he continues to be one of the best in the business.
|#4 – TOM HANKS
Hanks is one of the only actors ever to win back to back Best Actor Oscars (Philadelphia, Forrest Gump), he was nominated 3 other time (Big, Saving Private Ryan, Cast Away) and arguably should have been nominated at least 5 other times (Road To Perdition, Catch Me If You Can, Charlie Wilson’s War, The Green Mile, Apollo 13). The man is an icon already and he’s only 52 years old.
|#3 – LEONARDO DICAPRIO
Much like Brad Pitt was, DiCaprio was a face most of us were sick of seeing plastered all over the little girls bedroom walls. His knock out performance in What’s Eating Gilbert Grape should have clued us into the fact that there was a remarkable developing talent behind the cover boy face. Now he’s sought after by all the top directors, has 3 Oscar Nominations under his belt (What’s Eating Gilbert Grape, The Aviator, Blood Diamond) and perhaps should have had a couple more for Catch Me If You Can and Gangs Of New York. Many many many more to come.
|#2 – DANIEL DAY LEWIS
Was there any doubt this guy would land in the top 3? Perhaps the most intense actor of our age and holder of the single best performance I think I’ve ever seen given by a male lead in a film with his portrayal of Daniel Plainview in There Will Be Blood last year. He’s also probably the most picky and selective actor in the business only choosing to do 1 film every few years (good for him, shame for us). 4 Oscar nominations with 2 wins (There Will Be Blood *win*, My Left Foot: The Story Of Christy Brown *win*, Gangs of New York, In The Name Of The Father) means he’s been nominated in about half of his last 9 films. Not a bad record don’t ya think?
|#1 – RUSSELL CROWE
He’s not the most bankable. He’s not the most likable. He’s not the most famous. He’s not the best looking. But hands down, no questions asked he is simply the single best actor in the world today. Don’t believe me? Name another actor who has played as many completely different types of characters and 100% knocked it out of the park each and every time? He’s never the same guy twice, always brings something totally unique to his roles and always does them near perfectly. There is simply no one better in the business. He is the cream of the crop and the best Hollywood has to offer. Gladiator, Mystery Alaska, L.A. Confidential, Cinderalla Man, Master and Commander, A Beautiful Mind, The Insider, 3:10 to Yuma, American Gangster. People get sick of him because he’s a jack ass, but jack ass or not, he’s the best of the best right now.
Honorable Mention (In no particular order)
– Philip Seymour Hoffman
– Christian Bale
– Edward Norton
– Joseph Fiennes
– Ed Harris
– Johnny Depp
– Tom Cruise
– John Cusack
– George Clooney
So there you have it folks. What names were left off my list that you feel deserved inclusion? If you have some names, which ones would you remove from my list to make room for them?