The 34th Best Actor of All-Time: Jean-Louis Trintignant

  best film:  The Conformist is a visual high wire act from Bernardo Bertolucci. It is easily Bertolucci’s most formidable effort (and that is saying something because 1900 and Last Tango in Paris are excellent films). The Conformist does not work nearly as well without Jean-Louis Trintignant in full command in front of the camera. Behind The Conformist, Krzysztof Kieslowski’s Three Colours: Red is a towering achievement in 1990s cinema. Éric Rohmer’s My Night at Maud’s (1969) is a worthy bronze medal winner.   best performance:  The Conformist. Jean-Louis Trintignant’s career spanned over fifty years (fifty-five years between A

The 34th Best Actor of All-Time: Jean-Louis Trintignant2023-05-15T10:54:56+00:00

The 33rd Best Actor of All-Time: Joaquin Phoenix

  best film:  It is The Master (2012) here by a landslide. This is both a compliment to Paul Thomas Anderson’s film (one of the best of the 2010s decade) and sort of a nitpick at Joaquin Phoenix’s filmography. The number two film here is probably James Gray’s Two Lovers (2008) but that is a few steps down from The Master. Joaquin has a cluster back-end of the top ten quality of the year films (maybe as many as seven (7) – including all of the work with James Gray) but is lacking that second masterpiece or that film

The 33rd Best Actor of All-Time: Joaquin Phoenix2023-05-13T18:50:34+00:00

The 32nd Best Actor of All-Time: Montgomery Clift

  best film:   Howard Hawks’ Red River (1948) is an essential western. Red River is Montgomery Clift’s best film but it is also a landmark film as far as film acting goes. This is Montgomery Clift’s second film (The Search came out just months before) and a breakthrough for a new school of film acting. Clift would distance himself from the word “method” when he was asked - but he was from the Actors Studio with Lee Strasberg and Elia Kazan and of course broke through before Marlon Brando and James Dean. So, to see this new, moody, more

The 32nd Best Actor of All-Time: Montgomery Clift2023-05-11T12:48:38+00:00

The 31st Best Actor of All-Time: Burt Lancaster

  best film:   Two of Burt Lancaster’s’ top four films were Italian films – The Leopard (Luchino Visconti’s film and the ultimate winner here) and Bernardo Bertolucci’s 1900. The other big challengers are The Killers and The Sweet Smell of Success. There are actors who cluster best work together in a very short span of time – that is not Lancaster at all. These top four films mean that Lancaster’s best four films came in four different decades - The Killers in the 1940s, Sweet Smell in the 1950s, The Leopard in the 1960s, and 1900 in the 1970s.

The 31st Best Actor of All-Time: Burt Lancaster2023-05-10T12:48:42+00:00

The 30th Best Actor of All-Time: Joe Pesci

  best film:   There are a treasure trove of best film options for Joe Pesci. Pesci is on his list because of his work helmed by Martin Scorsese so one has to start there - in quality and chronological order: Raging Bull (1980), Goodfellas (1990), Casino (1995) and The Irishman (2019). Both Raging Bull and Goodfellas, in particular, have a very strong argument to be called the best film of their respective decade. But there are two other films here to consider at least. Pesci is not a main cog in wheel of Sergio Leone’s crime epic Once Upon

The 30th Best Actor of All-Time: Joe Pesci2023-05-09T12:42:30+00:00

The 29th Best Actor of All-Time: Klaus Kinski

  best film:   Aguirre, the Wrath of God is Werner Herzog’s grand masterpiece and Klaus Kinski will forever be linked with Herzog so this is his best film as well. Aguirre is so forceful - it feels like it is twice as long (in a good way) as its modest 95-minute running time. Kinski has actually been in some sneaky good films outside of his renowned collaborations with Herzog (Doctor Zhivago, For a Few Dollars More, The Great Silence) but it is Herzog’s own Fitzcarraldo that gives Aguirre the closest run for its money here in this category. Herzog’s

The 29th Best Actor of All-Time: Klaus Kinski2023-05-08T12:37:27+00:00

The 28th Best Actor of All-Time: Philip Seymour Hoffman

  best film:   Charting Philip Seymour Hoffman’s best film is close to impossible. Hoffman worked often with Paul Thomas Anderson of course, the greatest director of a generation. So, the discussion starts there with Boogie Nights, Magnolia, Punch-Drunk Love and The Master. There is virtually no separation on the artistic quality of these four (4) masterpieces from PTA. As if that were not enough, Hoffman is part of the ensemble in The Coen Brothers’ The Big Lebowski and Spike Lee’s 25th Hour. That next tier down includes Anthony Minghella’s The Talented Mr. Ripley and Charlie Kaufman’s Synecdoche, New York.

The 28th Best Actor of All-Time: Philip Seymour Hoffman2023-05-07T19:31:17+00:00

The 27th Best Actor of All-Time: Buster Keaton

  best film:   Sherlock Jr. swims just a tad faster than The General for the top slot in Buster Keaton’s filmography. Sherlock Jr. has Keaton’s genius changing landscape background sequence – while The General exists almost entirely on one big, moving set piece (the train) …  talk about cinema art. The mic-drop stunner of a final shot for Sherlock Jr. breaks the tie.   Sherlock Jr.  is a jaw-on the floor masterpiece, and, believe it or not, one that does not really take off and fly until the last 20-25 minutes so one can imagine how good those

The 27th Best Actor of All-Time: Buster Keaton2023-05-06T12:06:47+00:00

The 26th Best Actor of All-Time: Jean-Paul Belmondo

  best film:   Jean-Paul Belmondo is in three Jean-Luc Godard masterpieces, with Breathless – the first archiveable film for both (and debut for Godard) leading the way. Pierrot le Fou is a sonic boom of cinema style and is far closer in artistic quality to Breathless than most realize. These are the two best Godard films and certainly either one is more than worthy to be any actor’s best film. Belmondo just does not show up in these films either - he owns these movies (Breathless in particular) and the credit he deserves for one of the landmark films of

The 26th Best Actor of All-Time: Jean-Paul Belmondo2023-05-05T12:36:24+00:00

The 25th Best Actor of All-Time: Alain Delon

  best film:   Alain Delon has eleven (11) total archiveable films and all but three (3) deserve at least a glance at this category. The heavyweights and serious contenders in this category are numerous as well. One might as well start with the Luchino Visconti collaborations: Rocco and His Brothers and The Leopard. The Leopard was made at the height of the era for the epic genre - Visconti’s masterpiece stakes a legitimate claim to be named one of cinema’s most beautiful films. As if those two big films were not enough, the Jean-Pierre Melville Delon films are all

The 25th Best Actor of All-Time: Alain Delon2023-05-04T14:58:15+00:00

The 24th Best Actor of All-Time: Emil Jannings

  best film:   Emil Jannings’ overall archiveable filmography is pretty skinny, but there are two masterpieces here to contend with. Both F.W. Murnau’s The Last Laugh (1924) and Josef von Sternberg’s The Blue Angel (1930) are correct answers as far as the question of Jannings' best film is concerned. Oddly enough, Jannings is in both a landmark for camera movement (Murnau’s film) and an early milestone of mise-en-scene frame design (von Sternberg’s film). One might use the only formal misstep in Murnau’s film (that weak epilogue that Murnau acknowledges “doesn’t occur in real life”) to break the tie and

The 24th Best Actor of All-Time: Emil Jannings2023-05-02T14:19:01+00:00

The 23rd Best Actor of All-Time: Max von Sydow

  best film:   The Seventh Seal sits atop the list but there is so much here for Max von Sydow. When an actor collaborates with the great Ingmar Bergman ten (10) times there is bound to be plenty to choose from. That very top collection of films besides The Seventh Seal includes Bergman’s The Virgin Spring and Winter Light. In Winter Light, von Sydow is superb in his brief, but crucial role as Jonas Persson talking death and the end of the world with Gunnar Björnstrand's preacher. Besides these three Bergman films, one has to make room in this

The 23rd Best Actor of All-Time: Max von Sydow2023-05-01T18:18:41+00:00
Go to Top