The 45th Best Actor of All-Time: Ralph Fiennes

  best film:  Two polar opposite films dominate both this category for Ralph Fiennes – and the best performance category below. On one hand, Fiennes plays Amon Goeth, commandant of the Kraków concentration camp in Steven Spielberg’s Schindler’s List (1993). Far to the other side in genre and tone – and over two decades later - Fiennes would find another once in a lifetime role as M. Gustave, the concierge of The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014) in Wes Anderson’s colorful, symmetrical world.   from Schindler's List in 1993 - this was Ralph Fiennes’ coming out party - a

The 45th Best Actor of All-Time: Ralph Fiennes2023-05-29T13:45:49+00:00

The 44th Best Actor of All-Time: Chishû Ryû

  best film:  Twenty-one (20) of Chishû Ryû’s twenty-five (25) archiveable films are with Yasujirō Ozu so plainly, one has to start with Ozu - and when starting with Ozu, one starts with Tokyo Story. Tokyo Story is known as Yasujirō Ozu’s masterpiece and righty so - but Ozu’s work was so consistent (and consistently brilliant) that he is a body of work auteur - not an auteur whose stature is built his masterpieces (like say Ridley Scott). Basically, this just means that while Tokyo Story is Ozu’s best (and Ryû’s by proxy) - Late Spring, Early Summer, Floating

The 44th Best Actor of All-Time: Chishû Ryû2023-05-27T13:23:44+00:00

The 43rd Best Actor of All-Time: Denzel Washington

  best film:  Malcolm X (1992) from Spike Lee is a masterpiece. It is different than David Lean’s Lawrence of Arabia (1962) in some ways (lush 70mm exteriors for Lean’s film, how much of the subject’s life is covered) but similar in others (aggressively stylistic from the auteur, tour-de-force performance from the lead). It is Spike’s next strongest film after Do the Right Thing (1989) which is a compliment.  So, this is not really a category of weakness or strength here for Denzel Washington. The problem here is the competition for Malcolm X – there really is none.  His

The 43rd Best Actor of All-Time: Denzel Washington2023-05-25T12:37:25+00:00

The 42nd Best Actor of All-Time: Clark Gable

  best film:  Gone with the Wind is a masterpiece of epic moviemaking. Whether it is the gorgeous technicolor photography, the striking crane shots (in combination with a myriad of extras to provide proper scope), the writing from Margaret Mitchell’s source material or bravura acting – this is a film that has it all.  It Happened One Night from Frank Capra is Clark Gable’s next best film – and the dip from there to number three or four is substantial.   best performance:  Gone with the Wind again but those who claim it is It Happened One Night are

The 42nd Best Actor of All-Time: Clark Gable2023-05-24T15:33:40+00:00

The 41st Best Actor of All-Time: Ethan Hawke

  best film:  Ethan Hawke has the full Richard Linklater ‘Before’ trilogy to draw upon here. Boyhood (2014), also from Linklater,  has to be mentioned -  as does First Reformed (2017) from Paul Schrader. Hawke has both the 2011 (The Woman in the Fifth) and 2022 (The Northman) “winner” of the most underrated film category to at least contemplate as well. Before Sunset – the middle film (for now, hopefully there are more to come in the future) from the trilogy gets the slight nod here – but Schrader’s film feels like it may eventually win out. So this

The 41st Best Actor of All-Time: Ethan Hawke2023-05-23T13:01:06+00:00

The 40th Best Actor of All-Time: Edward Norton

  best film:  Edward Norton has been in fifteen (15) archiveable films and 6 (six) of them have been at the masterpiece or must-see level. Now that number is a little inflated with the three Wes Anderson collaborations (and really Norton is not a major cog in the ensemble machine there – though repeat viewings reward the work he does in Moonrise Kingdom in particular). Perhaps he is laying the groundwork here with Wes for a bigger slice of the pie so to speak in one of his films. This leaves Fight Club (1999), 25th Hour (2002) and Birdman

The 40th Best Actor of All-Time: Edward Norton2023-05-20T13:46:29+00:00

The 39th Best Actor of All-Time: Takashi Shimura

  best film:  Whether he is front and center (Ikiru, Seven Samurai) or somewhere in the background as part of the ensemble cast (Rashomon, The Bad Sleep Well, High and Low) – the story of Takashi Shimura’s best films has to be told through the prism of Akira Kurosawa. If that was not enough, Shimura's two Kenji Mizoguchi collaborations are at or near the masterpiece level as well.   Shimura as both the spiritual and literal sturdy center of Seven Samurai. Toshiro Mifune and Shimura are doing at, or near, career best work here. Shimura is the understated

The 39th Best Actor of All-Time: Takashi Shimura2023-05-18T21:46:36+00:00

The 38th Best Actor of All-Time: Jean Gabin

  best film:  The Grand Illusion from Jean Renoir though Max Ophüls' Le Plaisir gives it a close chase. Renoir’s 1937 masterpiece features a staggering narrative, three (3) strong performances (Pierre Fresnay. Erich von Stroheim, and nobody better than Jean Gabin), and that trademark gliding camera to catch and frame it all. It is a story set during The Great War – divide, not so much between countries, but between class with “ a wall between us”. This is a companion to Renoir’s The Rules of the Game (1939) with the camera pacing around suiting the ensemble sort of

The 38th Best Actor of All-Time: Jean Gabin2023-05-18T12:36:22+00:00

The 37th Best Actor of All-Time: Bill Murray

  best film:  The seven (7) Wes Anderson collaborations for Bill Murray have made this a very cluttered category – but at the very tip top – it is either Sofia Coppola’s Lost in Translation or The Royal Tenenbaums. Murray owns a bigger win share percentage of Lost in Translation, but holding down a few hilarious scenes (excellent per/minute average) in a film the artistic size of Tenenbaums is no small feat and should not be overlooked. Murray’s abbreviated performance in Royal Tenenbaums has the number five slot below and certainly an argument could be made for a few

The 37th Best Actor of All-Time: Bill Murray2023-05-17T11:46:18+00:00

The 36th Best Actor of All-Time: Kirk Douglas

  best film:  Stanley Kubrick’s Paths of Glory (1957) has a comfortable lead over noir mainstay Out of the Past (1947). Kirk Douglas has plenty to chew on in both films. Paths of Glory is Douglas’ best performance, so more on that below, but Douglas in Out of the Past, eviscerates the screen when he is on it – unmistably stealing some scenes from a very game Robert Mitchum. William Wyler’s Detective Story (1951) is clearly Douglas’ third best film and the next closest candidate in this category.   best performance:  Kirk Douglas’ turn as Colonel Dax in Paths

The 36th Best Actor of All-Time: Kirk Douglas2023-05-16T12:59:16+00:00

The 35th Best Actor of All-Time: Tom Cruise

  best film:  It is all about 1999 here with twin titan masterpieces from Paul Thomas Anderson and Stanley Kubrick. Magnolia and Eyes Wide Shut are by far Tom Cruise’s best films even if there is an underappreciated evenness to his entire filmography. The odd thing about Cruise’s 1999 is, it feels like it killed the artistic ambition in him to some extent. Few exceptions aside, he has largely avoided working with auteurs since 1999. Magnolia, Cruise’s best film, was a box office bomb (which it feels like eats at Cruise more than just about any other actor on

The 35th Best Actor of All-Time: Tom Cruise2023-05-15T12:45:47+00:00

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
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