- Leonardo Dicaprio (1)- One year removed from the revenant he’s still clearly the king. He hasn’t started shooting anything new and had nothing in both 2016 and 2014… hopefully he’s not following DDL’s “less is more” approach. Heads up for this #1 slot next year with gosling doing work with Villeneuve, Malick and perhaps Chazelle again in 2017.
- Christian Bale (2)- Bale adds knight of cups to his resume since I did this last year.
- Ryan Gosling (9)- Gosling is the big story here with almost every other actor on last year’s top 10 either skipping the year like Leo or missing the mark like McConaughey. I’m doubtful that gosling will ever have a performance and film come together like 2016’s la la land. It’s a career peak and along with Stone’s performance my co-acting performances of the year.
- Michael Fassbender (3)- barely treading water in the 4th slow with his strong performance a fringy-archiveable film- the light between oceans
- Tom Hardy (5)- he didn’t add to his resume in 2016 but still he moves up and leapfrogs McConaughey. MM didn’t have anything in 2015 either and it stings more than Hardy’s brilliant 2015 with fury road and the revenant.
- Ralph Fiennes (new)- After 2014’s grand budapest (quite possibly a career-defining role) I was dying for an excuse to put Fiennes back on this list and he sure delivered with 2015’s (which I didn’t see until 2016) a bigger splash ; high-octane genius acting. His work in hail, caesar just adds to it and helps me feel more confident about shooting past so many to land at the 6 slot here.
- Matthew McConaughey (4)- nothing in 2015 and 2016. It’s the end of the McConaissance.
- Ethan Hawke (new) – Hawke adds maggie’s plan (2015 but didn’t see here until 2016) but really it was a massive oversight for me not to do a better job acknowledging his back to back 2013-2014 with before midnight and boyhood.
- Joaquin Phoenix (7)- nothing in 2015 and 2016 now. I’m not as high (no pun intended) on inherent vice and his performance in 2014.
- Casey Affleck (new) C. Affleck- 4 archiveable films in the last 5 years but really he’s here on the strength of his devastating performance in Manchester by the sea—but those calling it his career best haven’t seen assassination of jesse james
- Oscar Isaac- He was very busy in 2015 so no big surprise 2016 didn’t offer much from Isaac.
- Michael Keaton– Keaton- we’re still only 2 years removed from birdman… so good.
- Brad Pitt- I like to reward actors for being in great films but there’s not enough meat on the bone in his roles in the big short and 12 years a slave to keep him in the top 10 after an incredible run from 2006-2016
- Tom Hanks- Hanks has been brilliant lately. Captain Phillips in 2013, bridge of spies in 2015 and Sully in 2016.
- Michael Shannon– Shannon had a hell of a 2016 with nocturnal animals, midnight special and his scene in loving
*****fell off last year’s list
- Bradley Cooper (HM)
- Matt Damon (HM)
- Mark Ruffalo (HM)