The 22nd Best Actor of All-Time: Robert Mitchum

  best film:   For Robert Mitchum it is a three horse race at the top for his best film. From those he plays a significant role in, it is either the 1947 noir classic Out of the Past or Charles Laughton’s only film as director, the 1955 sort of southern gothic horror fable Night of the Hunter. Taking in all of Mitchum’s filmography though, it is Jim Jarmusch’s 1995 postmodern western Dead Man that would take the top slot overall. This is Jarmusch’s most beautiful film from a photographic standpoint (back to his trademark black and white after two

The 22nd Best Actor of All-Time: Robert Mitchum2023-04-30T14:46:39+00:00

The 21st Best Actor of All-Time: William Holden

  best film:   The Wild Bunch. William Holden has four (4) films to choose from at the top – in chronological order there is Sunset Boulevard, The Bridge on the River Kwai, The Wild Bunch, and Network. The 1969 fatalistic Sam Peckinah western stands alone at the top (and is the sole top 100 film). Holden leads the crew of rugged desperados (excellent work from Warren Oates, Ben Johnson, Ernest Borgnine, and an unrecognizable Edmond O'Brien as well) on the run from Robert Ryan. Few could do cranky and world worn as well as Holden and here he is

The 21st Best Actor of All-Time: William Holden2023-04-29T13:16:06+00:00

The 20th Best Actor of All-Time: Dustin Hoffman

  best film:   The Graduate remains Dustin Hoffman’s lone top 100 all-time but some actors before him on this list do not have a top 100 film, and fewer and fewer coming on this list after Hoffman will have one as well. The Graduate and Bonnie and Clyde are the two big films to mark the paradigm shift in 1967 moving from the old guard in Hollywood to the sort of American New Wave (better known as The New Hollywood and/or Movie Brat era - roughly 1967-1979).  The Graduate  is the most singularly important film and, it is no

The 20th Best Actor of All-Time: Dustin Hoffman2023-04-27T20:56:08+00:00

The 19th Best Actor of All-Time: Clint Eastwood

  best film:   The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly (1966) from the great Sergio Leone is the strongest of the "Dollars" or "Man with No Name" trilogy and that is a accomplishment in itself. A Fistful of Dollars (essentially a Yojimbo remake) and For a Few Dollars More are brilliant works – making this sneaky candidate for the all-time finest trilogy in cinema history nominee. These are superbly stylized films by Leone – and Eastwood is the steady hand (and a straight up blow your hair back revelation in the first film) in the lead. Beyond the work

The 19th Best Actor of All-Time: Clint Eastwood2023-04-27T12:42:25+00:00

The 18th Best Actor of All-Time: Gene Hackman

best film:   The Royal Tenenbaums. Going with the 2001 Wes Anderson masterpiece does not feel as risky as it did five or ten years ago. Gene Hackman has his big five films and four performances and that upper echelon does not seem overly debatable. Cinephiles may debate the order, but The French Connection, The Conversation, Unforgiven, and The Royal Tenenbaums are the most important works for Gene Hackman (more on that below). Going with Clint Eastwood’s best film as a director, Francis Ford Coppola’s paranoia zoom-crazy and auditory dazzler, or William Friedkin’s no-nonsense adrenaline rush are certainly not wrong

The 18th Best Actor of All-Time: Gene Hackman2023-04-26T17:04:44+00:00

The 17th Best Actor of All-Time: Paul Newman

  best film:   Paul Newman has only actually been in two masterpieces - 1967 and 1969 with Cool Hand Luke and Butch Cassidy & the Sundance Kid. So this is not an overly imposing category for Newman – at least against that very top tier of actors. These two films (practically tied in terms of artistic merit)  are not auteur-driven masterpieces - but perhaps in some ways that even boosts Newman's credit/contribution percentage. He is certainly not just along for the ride here.  Butch Cassidy (Newman playing Butch) is a collaborative masterpiece. George Roy Hill is a solid director

The 17th Best Actor of All-Time: Paul Newman2023-04-25T12:34:34+00:00

The 16th Best Actor of All-Time: Leonardo DiCaprio

  best film:   Leo may be lacking that Goodfellas or Blade Runner top one, two, three of the decade level film – but there is no shame in having Inception, The Revenant or even possibly Once Upon a time in Hollywood as your best film. The group of films a step or half-step down includes Aviator, The Departed, and Django Unchained. And there are no cameos or small parts among those six (6) films. The quietest of the six (6) may be in Christopher Nolan's mind-bending Inception - but with closer study, DiCaprio’s work there as the steady hand at

The 16th Best Actor of All-Time: Leonardo DiCaprio2023-04-22T12:31:16+00:00

The 15th Best Actor of All-Time: Brad Pitt

  best film:   The Tree of Life. With Terrence Malick’s kaleidoscope montage approach, Brad Pitt’s performance is largely a silent one – but nonetheless, it is filled with miraculous moments of acting. Pitt's filmography includes some strong contenders to compete for this first place slot. Pitt is in a whopping nine (9) films that are graded out as must-see or masterpiece level. He is a substantial part of eight (8) of those films (12 Years a Slave is the only outlier). With Tree of Life destined for the top 100 of all-time and with more than enough to back

The 15th Best Actor of All-Time: Brad Pitt2023-04-23T21:52:47+00:00

The 14th Best Actor of All-Time: Henry Fonda

  best film:   Sergio Leone’s epic 1968 western Once Upon a Time in the West has the safe lead here as Henry Fonda’s best film. Two John Ford films, The Grapes of Wrath (1940) and My Darling Clementine (1946) come in silver and bronze.   Fonda’s Frank is one of the great screen villains. Fonda almost always played a man of virtue, so to see him here, with his steely, sadistic glare - well it is just jaw-dropping - and he is spectacular. It is 22-minutes into the film before Ennio Morricone's theme for Frank marks the arrival

The 14th Best Actor of All-Time: Henry Fonda2023-04-22T12:37:50+00:00

The 13th Best Actor of All-Time: John Wayne

  best film:   The Searchers is the best film of all-time. This cannot be definitively proven of course – there is a short list of films that have a strong case and warrant serious consideration. Some of these films on the list (2001: A Space Odyssey belongs on there, The Passion of Joan of Arc) may be more even - or more formally perfect - but the transcendent bookmark opening and closing shots make The Searchers tough to beat. So obviously, this is John Wayne’s best film. That said, it is worth at least acknowledging the greatness of six (6)

The 13th Best Actor of All-Time: John Wayne2023-04-22T22:59:15+00:00

The 12th Best Actor of All-Time: Tony Leung

  best film:   In the Mood for Love is a film that improves with close study. It is almost too cinematically and stylistically rich for one viewing. This is approximately the tenth (10th) best film of all-time – and is Tony Leung’s best film. But this is a very packed, masterpiece-laden category for Leung – a strength of his for sure. Chungking Express, Flowers of Shanghai, Hero, and 2046 are all masterpieces. Leung has been front and center for two (2) of the best films of the 1990s, and three (3) of the best films of the 2000s.  

The 12th Best Actor of All-Time: Tony Leung2023-04-20T14:06:55+00:00

The 11th Best Actor of All-Time: Marcello Mastroianni

  best film:   Only in the company of towering achievements like La Dolce Vita (1960) and 8 ½ (1963) would films as strong as Le Notti Bianche (1957) and La Notte (1961) look minor. But make no mistake about it, it is the back-to-back masterpiece collaborations with Federico Fellini in the early 1960s that stand atop the rest for Marcello Mastroianni. Both of these towering masterpieces were in the top fifteen (15) of all-time when the top 500 was last updated, so this is an insanely weighty category for Marcello. Only Marlon Brando and Robert Duvall (The Godfather, Apocalypse

The 11th Best Actor of All-Time: Marcello Mastroianni2023-04-19T22:45:09+00:00
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