The 47th Best Actor of All-Time: Sean Penn

  best film:  It is tempting to forget Sean Penn is in The Tree of Life (2011). That is not a good sign for him in terms of his impact on the film’s masterpiece status. This has happened before with Malick where actors’ roles are significantly cut or they get left completely on the cutting room floor ( ) - and nobody can argue with the results when it comes to The Tree of Life. The film has plenty for Jessica Chastain, Brad Pitt, and young Hunter McKracken. Next in line in this category would be another Malick film

The 47th Best Actor of All-Time: Sean Penn2023-05-31T19:03:29+00:00

The 46th Best Actor of All-Time: Michael Caine

  best film:  With Michael Caine’s long career (archiveable films span fifty-six (56) years - from 1964 to 2020), vast collection of archiveable films (twenty-nine (29)), and his collaborations with Christopher Nolan - this category requires some maneuvering. Starting with Nolan might be easiest. Caine is unfortunately not physically in Nolan’s strongest work, the 2017 film Dunkirk – so Inception is the top contender here from their frequent collaborations. The Ipcress File is stunning and has to be broached. Non-auteur masterpieces are few and far between – so kudos to Caine for having this film on his resume. Brian

The 46th Best Actor of All-Time: Michael Caine2023-06-01T19:07:42+00:00

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 Fiennes2023-05-31T03:16:08+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
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