Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Top Ten Favorite Performances by Male Actors


 Image result for acting

 Acting. For at least ten years acting served as the greatest passion of my life. Every decision, every hobby, every friend and nearly every favorite memory from ages 8-18 can be connected to acting in some shape or form. The reason I'm so into movies is because I thought I would be acting forever, and I wanted to know who the greats were, and study their work. So here's a list I've been wanting to make for a long time, it's what I believe are the ten best performances by male actors of all time. The ladies will get their own list next. Feel free to disagree and discuss. I'd love to hear your opinions and your favorites!




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10. 
Tom Hanks. 
Philadelphia

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Tom Hanks is one of my favorite actors of all time. While he has turned in solid work in the last couple years with Captain Philips and Sully, no star shined brighter in the 1990's than Tom Hanks. Hanks has turned in master-class performances in movies like Forrest Gump, Saving Private Ryan, The Green Mile, and Cast Away. But for his best performance, and one of the best performances of all time, my pick has to go to the movie that showed us all what a force to be reckoned with Tom really is, and that's Philadelphia. Here Hanks completely transforms, bringing a sense of dignity and multiple layers of humanity to a person who had only be played as a joke in the past. And the results will stay with you for a long time.


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9. 

Christopher Walken
The Deer Hunter

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To today's audience, Christopher Walken is not exactly known for plunging the depths of human emotion and bringing it to the screen. Yet, in 1978 that's exactly what he did, and he took home an Oscar for it. Walken brings this supporting character center stage, as he takes you on his characters journey from charismatic young romantic to a shell of a man, soul and mind destroyed by war. It is chilling and unnerving, but it is one of the best things I've ever seen.


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8. 
Phillip Seymour Hoffman. 
Capote

 Image result for philip seymour hoffman capote

Phillip Seymour Hoffman spent a long time as my favorite actor. He has brought more depth and power to every one of his performances than most actors could ever dream of bringing. Whether its the enigmatic Father Flynn in Doubt, or the power hungry and charismatic, yet deeply disturbing, Lancaster Dodd in The Master, Hoffman was always stealing the show. Yet, his finest hour has to be the way he channeled real life Truman Capote in Hoffman's Oscar winning role. Here Hoffman captures all of Capote's crowd pleasing charisma, but adds so many layers and complexities to what could have been a glorified impersonation. Hoffman will leave you speechless.


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7.
 Forrest Whitaker. 
The Last King of Scotland

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Forrest Whitaker had spent most of his career as a criminally underrated character actor. That changed after Whitaker took home an Oscar for his performance as African dictator Idi Amin. This performance could have gone so wrong in so many ways, but Whitaker dodges all temptations to present to us a mere villainous character. He brings amazing depth and humanity to the paranoid tyrant without ever asking for our sympathy. An almost impossible task that Forrest achieves with flying colors.


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6. 
Al Pacino. 
The Godfather Part 2

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Al Pacino is largely considered one of the greatest actors of his generation, though you wouldn't know it these days. Whether you're talking about Dog Day Afternoon, Serpico, Donnie Brasco, Pacino made a career out of bringing unprecedented levels of depth to your standards cops and robbers roles. This is never more the case than his portrayal as Michael Corleone in the Godfather part 2. Pacino brings to life with vivid intensity Michael's plunge into the darkness while in total control of the audience. With a glance Pacino causes you to hold your breath, waiting to see what he does next. Al makes Michael a totally compelling lead character while never compromising the man power turns Michael into.



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5. 
Marlon Brando. 
On the Waterfront

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When I see a actor in his early twenties to late thirties deliver a performance that is undoubtedly masculine, but has moments of aching, almost uncomfortable to watch vulnerability, I call that a "Brando Performance." This is your Tom Hardy in Warrior or Dev Patel in last years Lion. Even Though Marlon Brando does exceptional work in A Streetcar Named Desire and The Godfather, he is at his most iconic "Brando" in On the Waterfront. As Terry Malloy, Marlon Brando gives one of the first performances in film history to play a man with such vulnerability it is like an exposed nerve. There is a reason the scene in the back of the car, with the "I could have been a contender" monologue is among the most iconic in film history.



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4. 
Heath Ledger. 
The Dark Knight

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Sticking to my one movie-per-actor rule was never harder than here, because, in all honesty, Ledger has delivered two of the best performances I've ever seen. I was so torn with choosing between this and Ledger's incredible work in Brokeback Mountain. But for me when it comes down to the most iconic, pioneering performances of all time, Heath Ledger's Joker is one of the first to come to mind. In a time where creating a wholly original maniac is hard to do without slipping into campy and over the top, Ledger found the perfect line to walk. His Joker is dark, terrifying and completely unpredictable. Let me put it this way, The Dark Knight is my third favorite movies of all time, and Ledger steals the movie.


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3. 
Robert DeNiro.
 Taxi Driver

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I often use the adjective "haunting" when it comes to performances that bring something truly devastating and unusual to the movie, and when I say an actor or actress is "haunting," my brain automatically compares said performance to Robert DeNiro in Taxi Driver. DeNiro was heart wrenching in The Deer Hunter, and disappeared into the Raging Bull, but for me, he epitomizes a haunting performance as Travis Bickle in this disturbing Scorsese classic.


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2.
 Denzel Washington.
 Malcolm X.

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Denzel has created his own style of acting over the years with movies like Glory, Training Day and Flight. Even in 2016, Denzel showed us he still has the magic with what I would consider his second best performance in Fences. However, Washington as the titular Malcolm X left me absolutely stunned. Denzel completely embodies the physical and vocal aspects of the man, but he also brings the same tenacious energy, anger, dignity and determination that comes across whenever you watch archival footage of the civil rights hero. In a career full of amazing performances, Malcolm X rises above the rest. And it was arguably the first time in Hollywood history that saw a black actor revolutionize the way acting is done.

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Honorable Mentions




Jack Nicholson
One Flew Over The Cuckoos Nest

Image result for Jack Nicholson  One Flew Over The Cuckoos Nest



Chiwetel Ejiofor
12 Years a Slave

Image result for chiwetel ejiofor 12 years a slave


Warren Beatty
Reds

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Leonardo DiCaprio. 
What's Eating Gilbert Grape

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Anthony Perkins
Psycho

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Jared Leto
Dallas Buyers Club

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Dustin Hoffman. 
Rain Man

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Morgan Freeman.
 Shawshank Redemption

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James Dean
Rebel Without a Cause


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Christian Bale.  
The Fighter
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Robin Williams
Good Will Hunting

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Humphrey Bogart. 
Casablanca

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 James Stewart
Vertigo

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Robert DuVall
The Apostle

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Sidney Poitier
In the Heat of the Night

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1.
 Daniel Day-Lewis.
There Will Be Blood

Image result for daniel day lewis there will be blood


My best friend and I categorize actors in two sections. 1. You can disappear into a role, and be outstanding and convincing, but we never really forget we are watching this specific actor. Denzel and Tom Hanks fall into this category. Capable of giving some of the screens finest performances, but never not themselves to an extent. Then there is another category, and we call these actors "aliens." These are your Philip Seymour Hoffman's in Capote and The Master, of Christian Bale in The Fighter or American Hustle. These actors seem to actually become a different person in many of their roles, and you forget you are watching an actor you've seen many times. And no actor epitomizes the "alien" more than Daniel Day-Lewis. Take a look at Day-Lewis in There Will Be Blood.

This character is cold, despicable, ruthless and entirely wicked... but thanks to the mystical acting prowess of Daniel Day-Lewis, he is also always entirely human. I knew Daniel would make my number one, because I'm convinced he's the greatest actor of all time. I could have easily put Lincoln, My Left Foot or Gangs of New York on here; but for me, it is Daniel Day-Lewis as Daniel Plainview that takes the cake.

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