Wednesday, December 27, 2006

50 best actors of all time

A pretty objective list, I think, of the top 50, I’m surprised I made it all the way to 50 and it was a really hard assignment since actors come in different types: mainly those who create a persona and are a personality and those who are character actors, so it's really hard to make a standard list. You also have people who are more prolific and people who made each picture count. Stars who are very bankable, stars who are confined to one niche (i.e. The Western, etc.)

I think i might keep working on providing descriptions and stuff but that would probably take a lot of time, and come on, i can't be here all day writing. Some notes though:

  1. Marlon Brando-Notable Roles: Streetcar Named Desire, Viva Zapata, Apocolypse Now, Last Tango in Paris, On the Waterfront, The Godfather, Favorite Director: Elia Kazan
  2. Humphrey Bogart-Notable Roles: Sabrina, African Queen, Treasure of the Sierra Madre, To Have and Have Not, Key Largo, The Big Sleep. Favorite Director: John Huston
  3. Jimmy Stewart-Notable Roles: It's a Wonderful Life, Rear Window, Vertigo, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, Winchester '73, Favorite Director: Frank Capra/Alfred Hitchkock
  4. Lawrence Olivier-Notable Roles: Hamlet, Richard III, Rebecca, Wuthering Heights, Favorite Director: Himself
  5. Cary Grant-Notable Roles: Arsenic and Old Lace, The Awful Truth, North by Northwest, Charade, His Girl Friday, Bringing up the Baby, Favorite Director: Nomadic
  6. Gary Cooper-Notable Roles: The Westerner, For Whom the Bell Tolls, Pride of the Yankees, Seargent York, Mr. Deeds Goes to Town, High Noon, Favorite Director: Nomadic
  7. Alec Guiness-Notable Roles: The Lavender Hill Mob, Bridge on the River Kwai, Star Wars, Dr. Zhivago, Favorite Director: Mostly British directors
  8. Robert De Niro-Notable Roles: Once Upon a Time in America, Deer Hunter, Godfather II, Mean Streets, Raging Bull, New York New York, Goodfellas, Casino, Favorite Director: Martin Scorsesee
  9. James Cagney-Notable Roles: White Heat, Yankee Doodle Dandy, The Public Enemy, Favorite Director: Nomadic
  10. Henry Fonda-Notable Roles: Young Mr. Lincoln, Grapes of Wrath, My Darling Clementine, 12 Angry Men, Once Upon a Time in the West, On Golden Pond, Favorite Director: John Ford, pehaps
  11. Orson Welles-Notable Roles: Citizen Kane, Magnificent Ambersons, Lady from Shanghai, Othello, Third Man, Touch of Evil, Favorite Director: Himself
  12. Clark Gable-Notable Roles: It Happened One Night, Mutiny on the Bounty, Gone with the Wind, Favorite Director: Nomadic
  13. Charlie Chaplain: Modern Times, City Lights, Gold Rush, Great Dictator, Favorite Director: Himself
  14. Peter O’Toole: My Favorite Year, Lawrence of Arabia, Beckett, Lion in the Winter, Goodbye Mr. Chips, The Last Emperor, Favorite Director: Nomadic
  15. Jack Lemmon: The Apartment, Days of Wine and Roses, Mr. Roberts, Some Like it Hot, Save the Tiger, Odd Couple, Glengarry Glenn Ross, Irma la Douce, Favorite Director: Billy Wilder
  16. Kirk Douglas: Spartacus, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, Out of the Past, Lust for Life, The Champion, Paths to Glory, Favorite Director: Nomadic
  17. Dustin Hoffman: The Graduate, Tootsie, Midnight Cowboy, Lenny, Papillon, Kramer vs Kramer, Rain Man, Wag the Dog, Favorite Directors: Barry Levinson, Mike Nicholls
  18. Jack Nicholson: Easy Rider, Five Easy Pieces, Chinatown, The Shining, Prizzi's Honor, Terms of Endearment, A Few Good Men, As Good as It Gets, Favorite Director: Roman Polanski
  19. Gregory Peck: Duel in the Sun, Twelve O'Clock High, Gentleman's Agreement, Roman Holiday, To Kill a Mockingbird, Favorite Director: Nomadic
  20. William Holden: Network, Bridge on the River Kwai, Sabrina, Stalag 17, Wild Bunch, Towering Inferno, Favorite Director: Billy Wilder
  21. Gene Kelly-Notable Roles: Anchors Aweigh, On the Town, Summer Stock, American in Paris, Singing in the Rain, It's Always Fair Weather, Favorite Directors: Stanley Donen, Vincente Minelli
  22. John Wayne-Notable Roles: Stagecoach, She Wore a Yellow Ribbon, Fort Apache, Rio Bravo, The Searchers, The Alamo, True Grit, Favorite Director: John Ford
  23. Tom Hanks-Notable Roles: Splash, Big, Philadelphia, Forrest Gump, Apollo 13, Saving Private Ryan, Cast Away, Road to Perdition, Favorite Directors: Rob Zemeckis, Ron Howard, Stephen Spielberg
  24. Sean Connery-Notable Roles: The Hill, Dr. No, From Russia with Love, Goldfinger, Murder on the Orient Express, The Untouchables, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, Favorite Director: Sidney Lumet
  25. Edward G. Robinson-Notable Roles: Little Ceasar, Confessions of a Nazi Spy, Double Indemnity, Key Largo
  26. Spencer Tracy-Notable Roles: Boys Town, Woman of the Year, Adam's Rib, Guess Who's Coming to Dinner, Bad Day at Black Rock, Inherit the Wind, Favorite Director: Stanley Kramer
  27. Fred Astaire-Notable Roles: Flying Down to Rio, Top Hat, Swing Time, Holiday Inn, Barkleys on Broadway, Band Wagon, Towering Inferno, Favorite Director: Whomever was assigned by RKO
  28. Burt Lancaster-Notable Roles: The Killers, From Here to Eternity, Elmer Gantry, Atlantic City
  29. Sidney Portier-Notable Roles: The Defiant Ones, Lillies in the Field, In the Heat of the Night, Guess Who's Coming to Dinner, Favorite Director: Stanley Kramer or Norman Jewison would be my gues
  30. Robert Redford-Notable Roles: Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, The Natural, The Sting, The Candidate, The Way We Were, All the President's Men, Out of Africa
  31. James Dean
  32. Clint Eastwood
  33. Paul Newman
  34. Al Pacino
  35. Montgomery Clift
  36. Albert Finney
  37. Douglas Fairbanks Jr.
  38. Michael Caine
  39. Harrison Ford
  40. Gene Hackman
  41. Ben Kingsley
  42. Frank Sinatra
  43. Denzel Washington
  44. Walter Matthau
  45. Tom Cruise
  46. Robert Duvall
  47. Anthony Quinn
  48. James Coburn
  49. Ernest Borgnine
  50. John Voight
-I might call this a best actors and actresses of the 20th century list, simply because recent great actors like Russell Crowe, Jonny Depp or Scarlett Johannson who have been much bigger since 2000, have had a much
-Although, i am capable of independently thinking about this, i did consult two sources: AFI's twenty five legends and Premiere's April 2005 issue of top 50 movie stars

-For those keeping track, i basically have Robert De Niro as the best actor today. Obviously, it doesn't look as good with his last few comedic movies but look back before Analyze This
-Among my immediate family, Cary Grant is controversial but oddly enough Premiere Magazine ranked him #1 star of all time and AFI named him the #2 screen legend.
-Walter Matthau was a tough cookie to place, cause what do you have of him without Jack Lemmon
-This isn't really my opinion, although it's a balance between my opinion and popularity
-Ever notice how Gary Cooper, Henry Fonda, Gregory Peck and Jimmy Stewart are all very alike? Gregory Peck has some great performances but he was so cheesy in Gentleman's Agreement
-I would say that the two biggest actors i grew up with are Harrison Ford and Tom Hanks, and it's interesting to put them up against the greats. If you think about movies that are entertaining and exciting, Harrison Ford is always front and center, though admittedly he hasn't had a hit in years. Hanks, to me, is the best, but i weighed that against other stuff. He's my personal favorite, put it that way
-Admittedly Gene Kelly and Fred Astaire aren't the best actors, but keep in mind that those were the only 2 guys out of the entire MGM roster of stars who can act, sing and dance at a level that made those musicals work. Donald O'Connor could dance but he couldn't act that well. Bing Crosby and Frank Sinatra could sing but couldn't dance.

-Tom Cruise isn't the best actor, no, but he's done enough good work that he deserves a place on the list. Remember when he used to not be so universally reviled and thought of as one of the biggest stars in the world. It is pretty interesting because Premiere's April '05 (before Oprahgate) Issue ranked Tom Cruise as the greatest living star of today, so it wasn't that long ago. I wonder if the magazine editors who had pages and pages praising Tom Cruise would have changed their minds like the rest of the American public within the following 18 months

-I don't think number of oscars equals greatness. Jack Nicholson isn't number one although some people might say he is. He's good, i like him, he's definitely extroadinarily talented but I think late in his career he's relied on just being Jack. Also, i think i disagree with other people over his best performances (i like 5 Easy Pieces and Chinatown, not As Good as It Gets or One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest). I also perfer Robert Redford to Paul Newman even though Newman's been nominated a million times.

-James Coburn is interchangable with a number of stars from his era who were in The Great Escape or Magnificent Seven or similar Western/War movies with him-James Garner, Jack Palance, Charles Bronson, etc. It was a close call. I went for Coburn because In Like Flint just blew my mind. Was I supposed to take it seriously or was it a spoof? I couldn't figure out which.

-Sean Connery is also tough to nail down and evaluate outside of Bond. Is he a one-trick pony? The truth is he's done way more than 7 films in his career (that's how many Bond films he did), so it's a shame that he's so associated with Bond. His best acting performance outside of James Bond that i've seen is The Man Who Would be King. He's also not bad in Murder on the Orient Express