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Top 10 Male Lead Performances in Film

A couple of these men did not win the Oscar for the listed performance. But they should have. I do not fault the Academy for its mistake in these instances, because the years in question saw savage competition in the lead actor category, and any result was going to be controversial.


Tom Hanks


It’s still this lister’s pick for Hanks’s best performance. Not to take anything away from his two Oscar winners, but he should have won for this one (and not for Forrest Gump: John Turturro, in Quiz Show, should have won that year).

It’s pristine, effortless acting, in the same vein of Spencer Tracy and Laurence Olivier, as opposed to “the Method.” Hanks explained that he just pretended to be a kid again, and had a lot of fun with it.

He plays the innocence card into the rafters in this film, and you can never tell it’s Hanks. It’s always the character, Joshua Baskin.

The Oscar, in 1988, went to Dustin Hoffman, in Rain Man, and it’s fine work, but non-fictional representations always come across as somewhat cheap, since they’re impersonations on some level. Whereas, a fictional character is all up to the actor.


Al Pacino
Dog Day Afternoon

Up-Dog Day Afternoon 3 Lg

A bravura standout among bravura performances, and yet, bravura seems to imply going over the top. Pacino never does in this one. The real amazing part is that this is a true story!

He plays a loser who robs a bank, desperate for the money to pay for his gay lover’s sex change operation. Not even Shakespeare could have come up with that. The whole premise, thus, is alternately hilarious and hideous, insane and idiotic, and Pacino hits all the right notes for these aspects. His goal is to come across as more of a hero than a villain, and he actually succeeds, despite his grotesque motive!

The Oscar, in 1975, went to Jack Nicholson, in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, and it’s definitely superb, but Nicholson plays an ordinary rabble rouser who treats his crazy asylummates to a few fun days, but it should be a heroic performance, and Nicholson focuses a little too much on breaking Nurse Ratched’s rules solely for the sake of breaking them, not for the sake of his friends.


Sir Peter O’Toole


It’s his finest performance to date, and here’s hoping for lots more. A tour de force of consummate reserve, effortless artistry. He plays a dirty old man, infatuated with a teenage girl named Venus.

But he has to face facts. He has regular colonoscopies to check for cancer. He’s old! He’s wrinkled and rickety! But he defies the facts. He wants Venus. No one alive could have done this role. O’Toole draws all eyes with him everywhere he walks, even in small rooms. The rest of the cast seems to come alive with a little of his energy. He pulls a Spencer Tracy, with mastery in an aura around him.

The Oscar this year went to Forest Whitaker, in The Last King of Scotland, and it’s a hell of a performance, but O’Toole’s role was much more complicated and difficult to do well. He’s been plagued with bad luck throughout his career. Gregory Peck was better as Atticus Finch. But O’Toole should have won for The Lion in Winter, hands down. And for this.


Peter Sellers
Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb


It remains the finest comic performance in film history, for more than one reason. Sellers undertook the monumental task of playing 4 (FOUR!) roles at once, all distinct and all comic, and couldn’t manage the role of Major T. J. “King” Kong, whom Slim Pickens finally portrayed.

Sellers finally managed the Texian accent, but just couldn’t stay in character. He may have broken his ankle on purpose to escape his contract and play only 3 roles. But we can certainly forgive him, in view of the brilliance he displays in 3 guileless, chameleon-like performances. Judos to the makeup crew, of course, but the truth mainly lies in Sellers, whom you cannot recognize as Sellers in any of the roles.

To put his genius into perspective, consider that Stanley Kubrick was notorious for an explosive temper on set, which he excused with the explanation, “Actors don’t know their lines.” He wanted the script followed to the letter and only twice in his career allowed ad libbing: Sellers in this film, and GnySgt. R. Lee Ermey as, more or less, himself, in Full Metal Jacket.

Remember the phone call scene when President Muffley calls the drunken Russian Premier Kisov? That entire one-sided conversation came off the top of Seller’s head. Kubrick had nothing written in the screenplay except “Phone: Muffley to Kisov. Peter ad libs.”

He did the whole thing in 3 takes, the first interruption because of laughter from Kubrick himself, the second on purpose by Sellers, who started having fun with Kubrick’s personal life, and the third because the whole set was cracking up. He improvised the “alien hand syndrome,” which has since been nicknamed the “Strangelove Syndrome” in his honor. He based Group Captain Lionel Mandrake on Alec Guinness, because he thought it would be hilarious to see Alec Guinness with a clueless sense of humor.


Sir Paul Scofield
A Man for All Seasons


One of the few flawless performances in film. You never think “Paul Scofield.” You think “Thomas More.” This play had been on stage before, but the movie public had little idea of what Thomas More, the man who wrote the wonderfully witty indictment of Henry VIII and absolute power, “Utopia,” was like personally.

The film is accurate regarding his character. More really was unyielding on religious grounds: he was a staunch Catholic, and knew more about God and Jesus than anyone in England. He was adamant that Protestantism was Satanic and faithless, but he was extraordinarily forgiving toward Luther and all sinners. At the same time, he was the shrewdest lawyer and politician in the world, and Scofield nails all of this. His portrayal of More is the finest Christ-like characterization to date, better than Max von Sydow, or Jeffrey Hunter, or Jim Caviezel. Shame there hasn’t been a really, really good portrayal of Jesus.


Daniel Day-Lewis
There Will Be Blood


Marlon Brando would stand in awe, in awe, of the diligence Day-Lewis put into this role. He spent a year before production began, practicing his John Huston voice and getting into character as a ruthless oilman who only cares about one thing: beating everyone else, at life.

When the cameras started rolling, he found it easy to say anything he wanted and have it come out just right, because he claimed he was unable at times to come out of character. His second speech to townspeople, advertising his drilling services was completely ad libbed. Director Paul Anderson considers it the finest scene in the film.

“It’s spot-on characterization. Pure Plainview.”

The movie itself is complicated and fascinating, but the ending leaves a bad aftertaste. Yet Day-Lewis dominates everything. In an extremely rare occurrence of lightheartedness, Day-Lewis replied to the question, at the after-Oscars press conference, “What’s your favorite milkshake flavor?” with a wry smile and said, in Plainview’s voice, “Whichever flavor your drinking. I drink your MILKSHAKE!”


Sir Anthony Hopkins
The Silence of the Lambs


In only 16 minutes, Hopkins redefined the nature of villainy. It has to scare you as well as anger and disgust you. This is not a Method performance. Hopkins took Katharine Hepburn’s advice, from the set of The Lion in Winter, and did not try to act. He just said the lines. He based Lecter’s voice partly on Hepburn’s.

He came up with the idea of standing up and waiting for Clarice to appear at their first meeting. The script, like the book, called for him to be lying in bed, not particularly intent on her. Hopkins argued that if this was the first woman he had seen in 8 years, he was going to stand up and pay attention. And he thought it would be scarier to stand there, simply and with that soulless grin that oozes politeness and pure malice.

Add to that his unnerving stare whenever he talks to someone. He claims that he never blinked while speaking, though he seems to do so about twice. Never mind that, he hypnotizes you into terror and horror at the same time.

Remember the slurping sound after his most famous line? “A census taker once tried to test me. I ate his liver with some fava beans and a nice Chianti. *slurpslurpslurpslurpslurp*” That slurping sound was his idea, on the spur of the moment. Jodie Foster claimed that she almost defecated right then. He also enjoyed mocking Clarice’s accent, which he claimed was really mocking Foster’s fake West Virginian accent. She said later that he scared and infuriated her when he did it.


Marlon Brando
The Godfather

Marlon-Brando Godfather-Johnny-Depp-Tim-Burton-I-Knew-It-Was-You

The greatest Method performance in history. You have to be bad-ass to out-act Al Pacino, James Caan, and Robert Duvall at the same time. They were all nominated in the supporting category, and yet, astoundingly, Brando pulls it off. He towers over everyone.

Director Coppola explained what it was like to witness genius so intimate with its craft creating a character. “I went to his house with the script. He looked it over for about an hour while we waited. Total silence. Then he reached over to a box of Kleenex on his nightstand, wadded some up in his mouth, in his cheeks, and started saying the lines, and it came out as Vito Corleone. Right then, the way I always heard him in my head. Then he started improvising monologues in various scenes. It was out of this world.”

He shines at his absolute pinnacle as the murderous mafioso conflicted with his sinful life, when Duvall tells him that his son, James Caan, has just been killed. For a moment, he says nothing. But you can watch his heart break. It’s all in his face. He looks up, as if praying for mercy. Then he does NOT call for retaliation. He calls for a truce. Nobody could have done it better than Brando.


F. Murray Abraham

Jonathan Moore F Murray Abraham Amadeus 001

It’s the most magnificent, living, breathing, soulful bravura performance in film. Salieri, Mozart’s rival, is quite a daunting role, due primarily to the amount of emotion and pathos in his character. It’s fictitious in large part, as the real Salieri might have hated being nothing compared to Mozart, but he would never have deprived his own ears of such genius. He loved Mozart’s music.

But in the film, Salieri poisons Mozart out of desperation to become loved throughout the world as a great composer. He intends to put his own name on Mozart’s Requiem (like any musicologist would have believed it).

But he can’t live with himself after doing it, and tries to kill himself. Then he confesses to a priest. Everything he says as an old man will haunt you. He’s miserable. He’s still eaten up with hatred, especially when reminiscing. He’s one hell of a villain because of all this complexity of emotion.

Abraham gets it all right. The pauses between words, phrases, the expressions, the body language. Nothing is out of place. As the young Salieri, he immerses you into himself. You see everything as Salieri sees it.


Spencer Tracy
Boys Town

A Norman Taurog Boys Town Spencer Tracy Dvd Review Pdvd 007

It may be the only perfect performance in motion pictures. Katharine Hepburn, Tracy’s love for years, actually said this to Anthony Hopkins, on the set of The Lion in Winter: “Don’t act. Don’t try to do anything. Just say the lines. And watch Spencer Tracy movies.”

Well, no one has ever done it better than Tracy as Father Flanagan. The interesting thing is that he did not impersonate the real Flanagan. A Method actor would. Or as Charles Laughton said, “A Method actor gives you a photograph. A real actor gives you an oil painting.”

Tracy considered that an actor’s job, not studying the real guy and then copying him. So the characterization is part real and part Tracy, but all true. He’s also one heck of a hero for always believing in the goodness of some of those rotten little kids.

Never once, during the film, are you aware that you’re watching an actor. You think you’re watching true life. It’s not a performance as much as an entity. Flanagan comes alive and altogether unique in Tracy.

His own maxim on acting is Hemingwayesque: “Son, acting is the easiest thing in the world to do. Just don’t get caught doing it.”

Listverse Staff

Listverse is a place for explorers. Together we seek out the most fascinating and rare gems of human knowledge. Three or more fact-packed lists daily.

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  • MKO

    For me, I have always loved Robin Williams in "Good Will Hunting". I find him annoying as fuck and a terribly unfunny/annoying stand up act, but I think he always does great in dramatic roles (One Hour Photo, Good Morning Vietnam, Insomnia..)

    Also, Nicolas Cage in "Adaptation"; how great of an actor he can be when he's not going for a paycheck.

    Too lazy to post in the right list, but I think one of the best supporting roles was Matt Dillon in "There's Something About Mary".

    • DanF

      I think Williams best performance is Dead Poet Society, always well up a bit for some reason at the end when they all stand on the tables

  • c man

    nice list

  • c man

    i think brando should have no.1 though

  • Avi

    I have to look up the movies on this list I have not seen. Though I will say that Hopkins is a bit overrated for his performance, though it is still very good. And those were not Hank’s and Pacino’s best roles at all.

  • PoorMe

    I liked silence of lamb and There will be blood. Also godfather but I think I have a lot to watch.

  • c20

    I was almost first for the first time in my life! Awesome list, as always. Congratulations for your biggest fan in Mexico for this awesome website!!!!

  • c20

    I was almost first for the first time in my life! Awesome list, as always. Congratulations from your biggest fan in Mexico for this awesome website!!!!

  • c man

    but really, it is a goodlist a really good list

  • T

    Very good list, I really enjoyed it.

  • El the erf

    What! No Robert Downey Jr.!
    So sad.

  • Adrian

    @c20 (5):

    Nope, that would be me :)

  • deeeziner

    I just saw “There Will be Blood” for the first time about two weeks ago and was amazed with DDL’s performance.

    You’ve made another fine movie list, Flamehorse. With quite a lot of movie history to choose from, I think you’ve covered the generations well with your choices.

    Though I am sure that there will also be quite a few other excellent actors to be mentioned in the comments to come.

  • deeeziner

    A Man For All Seasons and The Lion in Winter have been lauded highly enough here at site that I have just added them to my movie queue.

    I have probably seen them when I was a youngster, but it’s high time I check them out as an adult.

  • El the erf

    It’s an unfortunate thing that actors playing superheroes are sidelined everytime a list on top 10 actors is up on the site.
    For critical analysis, only those performances are chosen in which the actor plays either a psychopath or a world war veteran or some demented guy with special abilities which helps in making the world a better place to live in.
    For me, this list stands incomplete without Christopher Reeves as Superman and Robert Downey Jr. as Iron Man.

  • BravehisTickle

    @El the erf (13): Haha.. Downey Jr. for Oscar..really..

  • El the erf

    …and Tobey Mcguire as Spiderman. (people don’t think anyone else as unthinkable in the role of spidey ‘xcept mcguire for nothing)

  • cyph3rlunch

    Yea i loved Anthony Hopkins performance in the lambs and the follow up film he was really creepy in a intellegent messed up kind of way.

    As for daniel day lewis That guy is incredible, he role in gangs of new york was also very well played. He tottaly deserved the oscar he got for There will be Blood

  • El the erf

    …throw in Christian bale too.
    He’s unmatchable as Batman.
    Just compare Bale in Batman begins and Looney in Batman forever and you’ll see i ain’t saying it for nothing.

  • Jfrater

    @c man (2): me too. Brando is unsurpassed in my opinion.

  • El the erf

    @BravehisTickle (14): Oscars gone to take tomatoes. For me, he is the most deserving one.

  • El the erf

    @BravehisTickle (14): Oscars gone to take tomatoes. For me, he is the most deserving one on this list.

  • Irreverent

    Looks like Jfrater is hooked on movie lists now and is going to continue doing them until it makes everyone sick!

  • Sheikh_Mahand

    Can I just point out something? How hypocritical is this list?

    In number 10 you state that non-fictional characters winning Oscars seems rather cheap, but then you promptly give numbers 9, 6 and 2!

  • Morphius

    @El the erf (9): El the e(extremely)r(rude)f(fag)!

  • demon

    typo in number 7. It’s supposed to be kudos to the make up crew. Not judos

  • L’Economa Domestica

    There’s a strange thing about “Big”: in Italy a film called “Da grande” (something like “When I’ll be adult” in english), had the same plot, and it was on italian cinema the year before “Big”. Shall we see italian actor Renato Pozzetto (who starred “Da grande”) also on this list? ;)
    Sorry for my very poor english, L’Economa Domestica

  • brosiusjb

    24. Demon you have to be one helluva pretentious snot to point out a single, obvious typo when the real meaning is obvious. Some on this site are a little too proud of their intellectual merits than they should be. But, this was a good list. Sellers and Day-Lewis are superb actors and do great jobs in these movies.

  • Corrector

    @14 did you ever see Chaplin? RDJ was perfect and amazing.

  • BravehisTickle

    @brosiusjb (27): Leave demon alone, he’s just a lil’ kid who has been given some homework viz. ‘check the spelling mistakes in the following paragraphs’ :)

  • Ryan Bingham

    Seriously, no Jack Nicholson?!? Where’s Chris Cooper, River Phoenix, and Robert Downey Jr.?

  • Perx

    Downey Jr. in Tropic Thunder was just something else.. he should have been on the list.. a dude playing another dude playing another dude shouldn’t have been overlooked just becuase it was in a comic movie…. but i guess he wasn’t the lead in that one..

  • Muscarius

    Brando in Apocalypse Now! is even better than in Godfather: he has a lot less screen time and you never see him clearly.
    For the full length of the trip that Martin Sheen takes, you are waiting for Kurtz to appear. And when he does, he is WAY ABOVE ANYTHING you would have expected!!
    It is almost impossible to be on par with expectations, but in Apocalypse Now! Brando shatters anything!

  • lala

    I thin Gregory Peck should have made this list, mainly for playing Atticus Finch. Or maybe James Stewart (Harvey/ Its a wonderful life) but I dont know which ones I can remove from this list as they are all very good too. So is the list.

  • Jotafrisco

    Am… It’s called Bogart.

  • tripsyman

    @c man (2):

    Totally agree with you, the wife got me the Godfather Trilogy box set for christmas. I think I will take the cellophane of tonight :)

  • ZedroZ

    I must say, Brandos invisible banjo lessons seem to be paying off…
    In the picture it really looks like hes gettig the hang of it!

  • oouchan

    Seen all of these movies and have to agree on all of your choices. I would say that Peter Sellers, Marlon Brando and Anthony Hopkins are my top three actors. For these movies, they should have won major awards each for their performances.
    Good list, FlameHorse.

  • BravehisTickle

    @wwwurfreegiftscom (38): Stop this blatant advertising..this is a place meant for meaningful discussions and light banter.

  • Miss_Info

    Flamehorse we get it! you love Peter Sellers, just reveal your ties to Freemasonry and be done with it. The whole time I was scrolling down I thought I would see Robert DeNiro and you didn’t even mention him, but you included Tom Hanks :| Have you ever seen ANY Robert DeNiro film?? just pick one and replace it with Big!!

  • elbobbo

    While I love both Peter Sellers and Dr Strangelove Alec Guiness play Eight characters in Kind Hearts and Coronets and does so amazingly. He is one of the best and also one of the most underappreciated actors ever.

  • sinclair

    @wwwurfreegiftscom (38):WoW seems like the bot war has begin at listverse! Better get your shields up jf!

  • Anthony

    Amadeus was a great film. You wanted that dude dead at the end. I have to pick that one up, great film.

  • sinclair

    @wwwurfreegiftscom (38): What the hell is a free gift anyway? A gift is always supposed to be free ,so the using free is redundant! I have never seen anything like paid gift!

  • vex279

    Downey Jr for Chaplin, probably the most versatile actor around today. However Brando should still top the list

  • Cataline


    Absolutely exquisite description of these performances. You must be an actor yourself to have seen such subtlety…

  • yt

    Just to elf,erf,whatever, superheros dont get the judos for a reason, simple and 1 dimensional (2 if you count the alter ego) characters. Don’t get me wrong, love comic books and (to a lesser extent) the movies, but they are the pulp, crowd loving fiction of the age. Ask RD Jr (who should be on this list somewhere,and he’d say,(me thinks,or has I think), that Iron man was a walk in the park, though good money :)

  • 1-7

    I think Brando should have got a place for A Streetcar Named Desire, he’s absolutely on fire in that.

    A few other special mentions, Daniel Day Lewis in My Left Foot and Robert DeNiro in Raging Bull.

    Otherwise, great list.

  • Glass

    Can we stop with the movie lists already?

  • h


  • Shagrat

    You’re a brave man/woman/it Flamehorse – feciding the top 10 out of the past 80 or so Academy Awrds winners for best lead male actor: not to mention the half a thousand or so more who were nominated and didn’t win – also not to mention the hundreds ore thousands who didn’t even get nominated for whatever political, ethnic, religious or parochial reason.

    In nomine patri et filii et spiritu sanctus!

  • DCI

    Clint Eastwood, spaghetti western roles, Brando in streetcar named desire although that was a supporting role.

  • loop

    F. Murray Abraham in “The Ritz”!

  • Ruth

    “A couple of these men did not win the Oscar for the listed performance. But they should have. I do not fault the Academy for its mistake in these instances”

    This sentence needs changing, it implies their wrong by fact, when in reality it’s just your opinion.

  • JimFearless

    Ed Harris…. in any one of a number of roles. Totally underrated. The best part of A Beautiful Mind

  • Lifeschool

    Hi, Gosh I love movie lists! I really wanted to laud this list as many commenters seem to like it a lot. I suppose, for what it is, you did a good job Flame – and I do appreciate your hard work. :) So keep ’em coming!

    10 more lead male roles could perhaps include:

    Richard Burton – The Spy Who Came In From The Cold
    Humphrey Bogart – Casablanca
    Jimmy Stewart – Vertigo/It’s a Wonderful Life
    Jack Lemon – The Odd Couple
    John Wayne – The Shootist
    Clark Gable – Gone with the Wind
    Burt Lancaster – Birdman of Alcatraz
    Robert De Niro – Taxi Driver
    Bob Hoskins – Mona Lisa
    Samual L. Jackson – Pulp Fiction

    ‘Nuff said.

  • Moonbeam

    @brosiusjb (27): Yikes! – kinda’ hash there – don’t you think? @demon (24): was simply pointing out an error – most likely just a typo. brosiusjb doesn’t come across as pretentious, sheesh! It struck me as a funny mistake, and @yt (46): makes the same error – kinda cute.

  • Moonbeam

    I’m so glad Peter Sellers from Dr. Strangelove was included. Although to suggest he broke his ankle on purpose is a little odd, but any way…

    This is one of those lists that could be made into many more. How about Jeff Bridges in The Fisher King? Or for that matter Robin Williams in the same movie? (@MKO (25): I think he’s better in this than Good Will Hunting, IMHO)

  • mcswede

    brill list flamehorse, i have to watch the Godfather again soon- one of the best fims ever made. Never seen Dr. Strangelove but i keep reading about it on here so i might just give that a whirl too

  • revolver04

    Superb list. Loved reading it. No Keanu Reeves though? I kid.

  • MommaDuck

    Daniel Day Lewis is a favorite of mine. Starting with Last of The Mochicans, mentioned that movie the day before yesterday. I love Gangs of New York and There Will Be Blood. He has an awesome talent, to be able to portray glaringly opposite characters, is really amazing. When you go to see a movie you’re supposed to immerse yourself, get lost in it. Some movies you have to make the effort, not so with DDL’s movies.

    I rarely disagree with JFrater, but I just don’t care for Marlon Brando, nor The Godfather. To borrow from the modern day renaissance man, Peter Griffin, “It insists upon itself.”

    Y’all have fun with that one! :)

  • lucifersam

    I’d include Humphrey Bogart in The Maltese Falcon.

  • MommaDuck

    I always seem to forget something…

    Christian Bale is Batman.

  • dbrownl

    Sellers should have been an easy #1 position, this is a good list but cmon “method acting” really, these are people that essentially torture themselves for their art, it is not acting, acting is the ability to pickup and drop a character at the sound of action, eg rent Monsters Ball and watch the special features, there is a clip of berry and thorton joking around and laughing about a movie they saw the night before, then you hear the director say action and immedialty you see the switch made. Method actors are not true actors, sure they turn in great roles but is it acting?

  • JustSayin’

    FYI, I don’t know if anyone else has pointed it out, but in the case of “Dog Day Afternoon,” Pacino’s lover wasn’t gay, but transsexual. World of difference there.

  • tarachowski

    What, no Keanu reeves? :) Great list – can’t believe Hopkins didn’t get an oscar for that, I always assumed he did.

  • tarachowski

    @63: I feel sorry for the method actor in one of those nazi pics – would not want to be the one they’re coming home to at the end of the working day!

  • timmar68

    Not to be a “pretentious snot” but I have a question about the word “pristine” being used to describe Tom Hanks’ acting in “Big”.
    Doesn’t “pristine” mean “something in it’s original condition”?
    Don’t flame me! It’s a legitimate question and if I’m right it doesn’t make sense as a description here. If I’m wrong, just let me know. :)

  • timmar68

    Not to be a “pretentious snot” but I question the use of “pristine” as a description (#10).
    Doesn’t “pristine” mean “something in it’s original condition”? If so then it doesn’t make sense. If I’m wrong let me know. Don’t flame me, please! I’m very delicate!:)

  • dbrownl

    @tarachowski (65): he did win, so did foster, director, screenplay, and movie, it swept all top 5 oscars

  • tomsss

    daniel day lewis is also one of my favorites.. but i think he is better in other movies like in the name of the father and my left foot… and how about clark gable, in gone with the wind, in just saying because i haven’t seen all the movies in the list

  • mom424

    Pretty good choices – I would have passed over Tom Hanks and I haven’t seen Venus. I’ll trust you on that one though; Peter O’Toole is great in everything.

    William Hurt has always been a favorite of mine; worthy of a nod for either Kiss of the Spider Woman, Body Heat, or oft overlooked Gorky Park.

    Current actors worthy of a look? Christoph Waltz as Col Hans Landa in Inglorious Bastards. He plays the sociopath nazi scumbag with glee.

  • 5minutes

    Jack Nicholson?

    Sir Lawrence Olivier?

    Humphrey Bogart?

    Cary Grant?

  • gav

    I thought Hanks’ inclusion to this list was brilliant, as was his performance. I won’t argue placement for any of these performances as they were all phenomenally done. A top-20 list would have been eagerly accepted. Thanks for the little tidbits included.

  • Maggot

    Dog Day Afternoon is one of my favorite movies.

    Best line ever:

    Sonny: If we gotta be outside the country, where do you wanna go? Any country. Just name a country.

    Sal: Wyoming

  • General Tits Von Chodehoffen

    Quality list. But we all know Al Pacino was best in Scarface haha

  • Zach

    I have ALOT of problems with this list. First of all, Brando WASNT method. At all. He actually hated method acting. Second of all, Spencer Tracy topping the list seems to be more part of the author’s infatuation with Spencer Tracy than anything else. There are many classical actors who can hold their own against Spencer Tracy. Jimmy Stewart? Anyways, there are some great performances on this list, but Big? REALLY? ANYBODY could act like a kid. It’s really not hard at all.

  • Moonbeam

    I thought of another, Viggo Mortenson in History of Violence or even better, in Eastern Promises.

  • Zach

    Also, you really don’t seem to understand what method acting is at all. You just use it as a term for acting you dont like.

  • Flock O’Seagulls

    I can’t believe no one has mentioned Christopher Walken’s bravura performance in “ II: Revenge of the Slimy Spammer.”

  • ants1

    Im usually all for this type of list but i with the acception with a few of these tha would make it on to most peoples list (brando, Hopkins) I think its really more of a personal favorites list.

    Just seems really limiting when you are pretty much saying no other laeding males in the history of cinema deserve to be on this list.

  • David

    Much better than that last list. Which was terrible.
    (Ralph Fiennes in Schindler’s List, anyone?)

  • Vera Lynn

    Flock O’Seagulls (78) So funny. Actually I really like CW.

    I liked this list, but also feel it could have been longer. I need to see some of these. Between this and the silent movie list, and the BSA list, I need some snow days for days off!!

  • mko

    Rarely leading men, but I think Ed Harris and Chris Cooper always turn out great performances.
    Other performances I just though of were Tim Robbins in “Mystic River” and both Javier Bardem and Josh Brolin in “No Country for Old Men”.

  • bassbait

    Sorry, but why is Jack Nicholson not on the list at all? He was phenominal in “One flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest”! That movie won the big 5! Also, Jim carrey for Ace Ventura? I mean, he doesn’t deserve top ten, but he is a hilarious guy in a hilarious role!

  • Soren

    I’m VERY pleased to see Daniel Day-Lewis in There Will Be Blood on this list. I was in absolute (and slightly disturbed) awe when I saw this movie; it sucks you in with its dark intricacy, and Daniel Day-Lewis elevated it to a level even beyond its already masterful execution. It really shows that he WAS Daniel Plainview, and nobody could have done it like he did. He brought a movie that, to me, was already a winner in plot, script and execution to a whole new level. The ending was one of the most disturbing scenes I’ve ever seen in film, but even putting that aside, this movie will stick with me for the rest of my life. I’m so glad to see that so many others appreciate this movie (as the friend I watched it with said it was “boring and too long”).

    The Silence of the Lambs has been my favorite movie for years and it turned Anthony Hopkins into one of my favorite actors. But considering that there are quite a few people who think praise for that roll is overrated, I wonder if people realize just how hard it would be for a person to really get behind a character like Hannibal Lecter AND do him justice.

  • Snooooze

    Wake me up when LV is done with the Hollywood shit.

  • El the erf

    Daniel Craig in Casino Royale.
    Definitely male!

  • jreddy666

    I think Brando should have been #1

  • Andy V

    What about Sean Penn in Dead Man Walking?

  • egm3

    Not a complaint, but just a question. Concerning #7, just what exactly is a ‘Texian’ accent? I only ask because I was born a few miles outside of Houston and, to this day, have never heard one. That would perhaps explain why Sellers had such difficulty mastering it. Otherwise agree he was great.

  • Gatsby

    I can never understand why Anthony Hopkins continues to get lead actor praise for Hannibal Lecter when he was on the screen for a little over 16 minutes. That’s supporting actor territory, not lead. I realize he received the Oscar, but it doesn’t negate the fact he wasn’t on screen long enough to be considered a lead actor.

    I love Dr. Strangelove, but I think Peter Sellers best roll was in Being There. If you haven’t seen it, check it out. It’s amazing.

    These lists are rather subjective, so keep that in mind as I offer up more opinions.

    I don’t know how one could omit Atticus Finch. Peck owned the screen. Orson Welles was amazing as Charles Kane. Both men were bigger than life. One rarely finds that in a film anymore. Peter O’Toole wasn’t half bad in that David Lean flick he did, Lawrence of Arabia, either.

  • Don

    Pretty good list but I must respectfully disagree with Dr. Strangelove. While Peter Sellers really was fabulous especially as the president, I think George C. Scott stole that movie like a thief! I personally think it was the best performance he ever gave except maybe for “Patton.” I would also add to the list Jack Lemmon in “Days Of Wine And Roses.” If you have never seen it, please check it out. He was amazing.

  • kennypo65

    Great list. Sellers was one of the best actors ever and Dr. Strangelove is one of the funniest and most terrifying films. You youngsters out there who never lived through the cold war can’t comprehend the real danger the world was actually in during that time.

  • Ashling

    FlameHorse writes REALLY good lists! :D

  • munchie

    nice read, no room for tom cruise in jerry mcguire?
    or sean penn in mystic river?
    or day lewis in gangs of new york?

    this list could be 50 long, again nice read though

  • munchie

    bale as patrick bateman as well by the way…..

  • Paul T

    Judos to the listmaker!

  • Aaron

    Good List, some flaws in my opinion, Brando should have been number one, but not for the Godfather. Im not going to say the movie, for the author not to know, would only prove this list deficient.

  • Ouroboros


  • whoop

    Just watched Al Pacino in Devil’s Advocate. The film is pretty good, but there’s one bit, near the end when, and I think the lighting has something to do with it, his face just becomes utterly demonic. They use morphing in the film, but not at that point. Never known one moment in a film have such an impact on me for the quality of acting, really.

  • demirah

    how about taxi driver it should be there he was crazy and good acting maybe the next list

  • demirah

    what!!! no heath ledger that should be #1

  • CandJ

    good list,some of my favorite male performers & roles are missing,I’ve always thought Richard Burton in “Who’s afraid of Virginia Wolfe”is one of the greatest ever(he was robbed the Oscar,However Elizabeth Taylor won best actress,for the same film).

  • Winston

    Too American

  • CandJ

    5 of the actors are NOT from America

  • Camo

    Sooooo… Tom Hanks’ performance in Big outpoints Marlon Brando’s perfection in ‘On The Waterfront’, or Gregory Peck’s stunning portrayal of Atticus Finch in ‘To Kill A Mockingbird’? Madness, I tell you, pure madness. I generally agree with your list, especially the inclusions of Hopkins, Pacino and Sellers (bravo for including Dr Strangelove), but I would have substituted Daniel Day-Lewis’ effort in ‘My Left Foot’ or ‘In The Name Of The Father’ before ‘There Will Be Blood’. Also, disappointing not to see Sidney Poitier in the list somewhere… his Mark Thackeray in ‘To Sir, With Love’ is a beautiful and poignant piece of work. Overall though, aside from the Hanks aberration, a worthy and interesting read… well done, Flamehorse.

  • Gregory

    Tom Hanks for big…really?

  • Diogenes

    there was no pay off for killing that whinny bastard of a preacher in the end of “t.w.b. blood”. For me it was just like, “FINALLY!”
    And D.D.Lewis is a fine actor and all, but what escalates as a dominate dictator character just goes over the top too late in the game and Lewis’ pazazz flickers out come credits role time. I dont know why P.T. Anderson feels like he has to make pseudo epics all the time. Just stop man when the tricks have run their coarse.

    funny you have T.Hanks because I was tinkering the idea of making a joke on the silent-films list concerning him, but decided then/and now, to keep it to my self.
    Anyway Hanks certainly had his day as top anti-star. The everyman. It’s weird how long he’s been around. Kinda like when you see a child actor when youre a child and dont realize that your the same age until haven grown up watching the change into adulthood. (not to say I’m the same age as Hanks or even want to compare myself to him. It’s an example)
    The thing about the comedian(which Hanks is at core)
    It can be a thin line when over-acting becomes a reason for top notch acting. Espesially if youre a loudmouth/bombastic type of comedian (Robin Williams) or plastic face (Jim Carrey) then you take the mask off, so to speak, and play it straight face. Hanks-“Philidelphia”, Williams-“The World According To Garp”, Carrey-“The Truman Show “.
    It’s almost that A comedian wont be taken seriously as a comedian if he cant show us his range into the real, the down to earth, or the tragic.

    Flamehorse- Why dontcha come up with a list exclusively for the Shakespearean drunkard thespian circle of O’Toole, Burton, Harris, and Reed? Was Olivier one of their group too or were they like,” uh, can you wait in the car? We have biznuss to take care of.”
    glug glug glug

    That is, if you take requests.

    Peter Sellers AGAIN? Give us a break man! Then again, Where would Mike Myers be (without his Austin Powers Schlock)if he didnt act british. Yeah that’s right, he would be Canadian. Which you know is pretty much the same as British humor.

    It’s too simple to add a list of whatabouts.

    In fact I’ll go ahead and be ignant’n’shit and say I have never heard of Sir Paul Scofield. Why is it that a “really really good portrayal of jesus” doesn’t exit in your opinion? It’s not all going to be the same. A myriad of forms exist & the approach will either surround ‘him’, Or it will be allegorical or extreme or a “personal vision of the director” or by the book..ect.
    I would love to see a film on gautama buddha that doesn’t put me to sleep..If only somebody gave me the moey to have a go at Hesse’s ‘Siddhartha’.
    I wouldn’t mind a film showing the human side of Hitler or a pissed of Giant Jesus toppling modern utopia Dubai, or Lucifer as the light bearer flapping his wings through the slums of rightnow Haiti.

    It’s fantasy but it’s not so much you know? Because fantasy is like religion. it connects to inner conflicts of desired truth and abandoned delusions.

    “The Wrestler” wasn’t a bad Jesus film.
    Nor was “Jesus Of Montreal”
    Or Pasolini’s “Il Vangelo secondo Matteo”

    Has film reached a NOW like rap music, as an example, did for a while when it broke from the neighborhood.
    aka. From the street to the masses. To your radio,tape cassette, CD Playah Yo!
    But it’s more like cultural precursors to a relevant aftermath and the overabundant clarification via the ‘what’s happenin’ writers/spokesman/critics/ and such, ect that disperse what is ongoing oh so faraway.

    I’m trying to condense this.
    The performances of men in film as it sticks in ranking within acting capabilities tends to be representive of pre-film stage history and also contemporary trends of the media worldwide, via generic Hollywood. more or less based on this list.

    holding a captive audience is the the key and the viewer’s mind afterward, as in, putting all the final touches oneself, like the filling of a sandwich. you know?
    If you eat The Stuff. It’s mighty good, and slides right down the gullet. All the kids cant get enough!
    …. but IT’LL KILL YOU!!!!

    What good does a film actor do but make perhaps a trainee in the wake and an inspired moment of connective fantasy? Or an ‘in awe’ moment of watching a standard outside of oneself human?
    It’s something elemental isn’t it?

  • dsbnh

    I could not disagree more with your take on Mr. Day-Lewis and Anderson’s work. Pseudo epics? Ugh.

  • dsbnh

    Diogenes, I could not disagree more with your take on Mr. Day-Lewis and Anderson’s work. Pseudo epics? Ugh.

  • Diogenes

    dsbnh, comment105/106-

    feel free to elaborate.

  • Gabriel

    You guys shoul keep on making these movies list untill the day of the oscar ceremony…

    Now i’d like to see a list with the best movies, actresses, etc.

  • xphoenixx

    @egm3 (88): You probably haven’t heard a Texan accent because Texan accents sound normal to you. I’ve lived about half an hour outside of Houston my entire life and the only time I notice people speaking with a Texan accent is when I visit family in Snyder. I know I have an accent because I spent a semester trying to get rid of it so I could act, but up until I started college I had no clue I sounded so Texan.

  • porkido

    “His goal is to come across as more of a hero than a villain, and he actually succeeds, despite his grotesque motive!”

    Um, do you mean what this sentence suggests?

  • Ruth

    Interested to hear everyone’s opinion on the up-coming nominations, and those who they think should win, and why.

  • littlegoldwoman

    Hello! Brando is easily numeral uno and WTF where Nicholson?

    Abraham? One great performance does not the legend make. He hasnt done shit thats bankable or legend worthy sense.

    Sellers??? pffft

    should have been Hopper.

    And I love me some 70s Pacino. He was total hotness but Deniro is better.

    This should have been called “10 male lead performers”.

    No Top about it.

  • 14gotmyMANTRA

    Al Pacino in Dog Day Afternoon…. Absolutely stunning. Incredible.

    It’s probably the most underrated performance I can think of, too, cause the movie is so weird, so I’m super glad you put him on this list.

  • Late O’Day

    “But in the film, Salieri poisons Mozart out of desperation to become loved throughout the world as a great composer.”

    Where did you get that idea? (Unless you mean “poison” in the strictly metaphorical sense; thwarting Mozart at every turn, etc.).

    There’s no mention of poison in the movie (the stage play makes a glancing reference to it, but it is played as an ungrounded boast or fantasy).

  • Finnish man

    This list is missing two of finest performances in the movie history; Robert De Niro in Raging Bull and Marlon Brando in On The Waterfront.

  • The_Snowdog

    I have nothing against Pacino in Dog Day Afternoon. Very good performance there.

    I would put his performance in The Panic in Needle Park up there with dog Day Afternoon. Very good movie in my opinion and underrated. Pacino was great in it.

    I would have included Robert DeNiro at least for his performance in Taxi Driver

    Pacino and DeNiro are 2 of the greatest actors out there now and in history in my opinion. Please don’t try to argue for Ledger’s joker performance. His performance was overrated mainly because he died. If he didn’t OD, you wouldn’t hear all of the praise that you do now. It wasn’t #1 by a long shot. He wasn’t even the best Joker. That goes to the great Jack Nicholson.

    It’s hard to condense great performances down to just 10.

    One actor that should be at least part of the conversation is Michael Keaton.

    Keaton to me is a great actor whose skills are very underrated. He can play any role out there – form comedy to serious.

    Keaton in Gung Ho and Mister Mom is great. But his performances in Clean and Sober and My Life are outstanding.

    And Morgan Freeman and Denzel Washington are great as well.

    And actresses to… Meryl Streep in Silkwood and Sophie’s Choice.

    As i said it is hard to narrow it down.

  • Karl

    @c man (2): Agreed.

  • Sandra

    Brando in The Godfather was great. Tracy as Father Flannigan was epic. Try this sometime–shut your eyes and merely LISTEN to the performance; don’t watch it. You’ll be amazed at the HAM you hear that you don’t realize when the visual gets in the way, so to speak. O’Toole, for example, often shouts lines, so they come across artificial. Also this list should have included more pre-1960 performances. Your bias is showing.

  • Lifeschool

    @Don (90): George C. Scott is also amazing in “Anatomy of a Murder” with my favoutite: Jimmy Stewart – definitely worth a look.

    @Ouroboros (97): Red Dwarf fan? I totally had Greg Peck in my list (54) for Mocking Bird – but removed it because I thought the list was for non Oscar winners. Wups.

  • jemjester

    I see irony here- at the top of this page is an ad for the Steven Segal movie “The Keeper.”

  • Soren

    @littlegoldwoman (112)

    It’s 10 Male Lead PerformANCES, which is a king of important detail considering your complaint with #2.

  • dazza

    what about deniro for raging bull or taxi driver

  • Fluffhead

    Have you heard of Robert De Niro? Go Watch The Deer Hunter and tell me that De Niro’s performance is not deserving of a top ten spot.

  • CandJ

    Johnny Depp in “ED WOOD”

  • jake

    tim robins or morgan freeman in shawshank redemption

  • Flarken Sansdingle

    I didn’t see Bruce Campbell as Ash in Army of Darkness anywhere in that list, what gives?

  • nuriko

    ooohhhh… :)

  • CandJ

    John Hurt in “The Elephant Man”

  • Iakhovas

    How about Arnie in Terminator? That guy was born to play a robot with his emotionless wooden acting.

  • porkido

    PhilSeyHoff in Capote.

  • Rowan

    Lets not forget Arnie in The Terminator films

  • Late O’Day

    Yeah … Arnie in the “Terminator” versus (say) Ben Kinglsey in “Gandhi”.

    Tough call.

  • brubbish223

    great actors
    great list
    i like number 3 id make
    it number 2 though :P

  • kazana

    Loved number 2,thought he was awesome in that role. Surprised Anthony Hopkins didn’t get an Oscar for that role,he scared the crap outta me.

  • nicoleredz3

    Love this list! Personally, I thought Marlon Brando should’ve been number 1, followed by Sir Anthony Hopkins…

  • nicoleredz3

    Then, aaahhh, Al Pacino… *blush*

  • Spocker

    Suprised of no mention of Henry Fonda in “The Grapes of Wrath” or “Twelve Angry Men” (complimented by Lee J. Cobb, of course).

    I’d also toss the hat to
    Paul Newman for “Cool Hand Luke” – You gotta like a guy who always smiles.
    George Burns in “Going in Style” – That whole poignant scene when he wakes up to find his friend (Art Carney) had passed away during the night.
    Denzel Wasington in “Glory” – Particularly the scene where he’s whipped.
    Humphrey Bogart in “The Caine Mutiny” – Don’t mess with his strawberries.
    Jeff Bridges in “Starman” – The only alien role to be nominated for Best Actor
    Charleton Heston in either “The Ten Commandments”, “Ben Hur” or “Planet of the Apes” – Get you stinking paws off my Oscar!

  • John Sherman

    Kudos to demon. I’ve noticed plenty of typos in these lists and that can be a problem. If someone is that sloppy in writing, typing and proofing their submission, then how sloppy were they in their research?

  • samanthaf63

    You talk about Peter Sellers playing four roles in Dr. Strangelove, why not the great and brilliant Alec Guinness in Kind Hearts and Coronets where he played SEVEN (including a woman) years earlier?

  • Mabel

    @El the erf (17): Bale is without a doubt the BEST. BATMAN. EVAH.

    Loved him!

  • Mabel

    @Moonbeam (77): Ah, Viggo. He’s very underrated. He was PERFECT as Aragorn in LOTR. Peter Jackson initially picked Stuart Townsend, who is a very decent actor, but just not right for the part. Viggo was so great in that role. “A History of Violence” was extremely good.

    Also, William Hurt in that same movie was so scary!

  • Mabel

    @The_Snowdog (120): I disagree about Ledger. He made Joker less of a caricature and more of a person. I actually walked out of the theater feeling kinda sorry for the guy.

    Jack’s Joker was awesome, but too cartoon-y. That whole film was a delight, but very very cartoony. I just can’t take Michael Keaton as Batman seriously.

  • Mabel

    I hated “Big”; the whole thing with him having a date with the woman and jumping on the bed when she clearly wanted to sleep with him was just creepy. That piano you played with your feet was the coolest, though!

    I LOVE DOG DAY AFTERNOON! Whaddya mean, Al Pacino didn’t win anything for that!?

    Anthony Hopkins DID win the Best Actor Oscar for his portrayal of Hannibal Lecter in “The Silence of the Lambs.” The film won Best Picture and I think Jodie Foster won Best Actress, and Jonathan Demme Best Director. That is one damn good film (and book).

    I didn’t care for “The Godfather,” but Brando was excellent in that film.

    F. Murray Abraham was AWESOME in “Amadeus,” although the real Salieri, I’ve read, was not a poisonous rival of Mozart. It was a great movie nonetheless.

    Very interesting list, FlameHorse; it seems to have generated lots of debate.

  • SheShe

    “Oy with the poodles already!”

  • Arghzombie

    Jack Nicholson in the Shining…Best male lead performance ever!

  • Linda

    #6 Paul Scofield in A Man For All Seasons. Probably one of the best movies ever made. His performance is so brilliant that I will watch this movie every time it comes on. Even though I know everything thats going to happen I find myself just mesmerized by all the performances in this movie and pay attention as if I had never seen it before.

  • Pacha


  • Glass

    @The_Snowdog (120): Nicholson wasn’t the Joker, he was himself, poorly.

  • BookWorm

    I think this site should stop floggin the film lists to death.

    But, I’d like to put my input, I’d like to acknowledge DeNiro in Raging Bull and Al Pacino in Serpico.

  • Liz

    Amadeus is one of my favorite movies. I’m so glad you included F. Murry Abraham on this list. He is so incredible in that movie, and one of my favorite actors.

  • Chris

    Great movie list. It’s difficult to write a list like this with only 10 items. I think FlameHorse might be a movie addict.

    Where is Steven Seagal and Vandamme? Just kidding, they’re both terrible actors.

    For anyone that wants a laugh, hire the movie Barbarian, if you can find it. It’s so cheap it is filmed on handycam and the actors are terrible. But so much so that it’s actually really funny.

    And Pacha, this list is “Top 10 Male Lead Performances in Films”. No one said that he didn’t win an Oscar, it just explains that some did not get the oscar. So Hopkins still belongs on the list.

  • Chris

    Ha ha ha ha ha ha….

    I just noticed the too American comments. This shit gets funny. Every list has these comments. Where are all the Namibian, Sudanese, Taiwanese and Maltese actors? Oh, that’s right, they make bugger all movies in those countries. America is a huge film making country, more than any other.

  • cate

    Nice, but IMO we are missing Robin Williams, Jack Nicholson, and just for strangeness, Malcom Mcdowell (Alex- A Clockwork Orange). !

  • cate

    @Pacha (151): Read the caption again, he says ‘some’ have won Oscars, but not all.

  • cate

    A frequent theme in the comments on these threads is that lists are ‘too american’. Do people not realize that JF is not American..

  • archangel

    Can i just ask… how does one tell if a performance is REALLY excellent and flawless?

    • Don Newbury

      Like I wrote in my comment. In my opinion, it’s when you froget you’re watching aperformance and the actor makes it real.

  • easton_87

    I’m surprised Tom Hanks in “Forrest Gump” was not on this list…

  • Trazzoli

    @BravehisTickle (14): Despite all the junk that Downie Jr has had over the years – personal life tabloid crap and all that – and some bad roles, his performance in Chaplin is enough of a stand alone acting coup that it shows he has true star-worthy talent. So the guy had some fun – who wouldnt with that kind of fame and money, admit it.

  • Trazzoli

    @easton_87 (161): How about his character Philadelphia. One of the hardest hitting movies I have ever seen, and one of Tom Hanks’ best acting jobs ever, though Big also shows some massive acting chops. Philideplphia was also cool for denzel, one of the last jobs he did that was good before he started choosing stupid scripts and turning into some bad-ass wanna be b-movie slob.

  • Numbers 10, 4 and 3 are the only ones I can agree with…

    Roy Sipel Roy Sipel Roy Sipel Roy Sipel Roy Sipel Roy Sipel Roy Sipel Roy Sipel Roy Sipel Roy Sipel Roy Sipel Roy Sipel

  • 1awr

    All good, though you miss my favourite: Robert Duvall in “The Apostle”. He lost that year to JAck nicholson for “As Good As it Gets.” Are you kidding me?

  • Nowhereman

    Yeah,nice job leaving out the two greatest performances in the history of film: De Niro’s portrayal of Jake LaMotta in Raging Bull and Brando’s tour-de-force in “On the Waterfront”.

  • katie

    humphrey bogart in casablanca totally should have been on this list.

  • divxmerkezi

    first al pacino film indirme

  • ThatGuy

    this list is sooo incomplete without gregory peck in To Kill a Mockingbird

  • rallymcwilliams

    Really? Not one Robert Deniro performance? His role as Travis Bickle or at the very least, Jake LaMotta surely deserve a place SOMEWHERE on this list.

  • stefani

    Al pacino – His eyes are wonderful and he is beautiful until today.

    I think he would stay in First place.

  • LastExit

    Great list, but frankly, Gregory Peck seriously deserves a spot. His portrayal of Atticus Finch was just too fantastic to overlook.

  • Don Newbury

    Nice list. I remember when I saw “Silence Of The Lambs.” When it was over, my whole body just started relaxing. I had been in a giant clench the whole movie and didn’t realize it LOL. I also like the choice of Marlon Brando and I would have put him higher as well. The thing with Method actors is that a lot of times, you can see them acting, if you know what I mean. To me a good actor is somebody that just disappears into the character and you forget that you are watching a performance. Brando did it beautifully.

  • Jack

    De Niro in either “Taxi Driver” or “Raging Bull.”

  • cohzy

    “despite his grotesque motive!”…paying for his gay lover’s sex change op you mean? wtf listverse?

  • gollumizer

    you forgot to mention jeremy irons and r. de niro. I never liked Tom Hanks much, although the movies he’s been in are mostly good, but it’s more of an ensemble effort instead of a memorable performance by him.

  • archworf

    You hit the nail on the head in the Tracy piece. My highest praise for an actor is when they “are” the character. You defined why I hate Sean Penn on screen-he’s ALWAYS acting, always Penn as someone.

  • Tom

    Robert De Niro for Raging Bull should not only be on this list but be number one, it’s the greatest display of acting talent in cinema history by arguably it’s greatest actor. Anthony Perkins should get a mention for Psycho though probably not in the top 10.

  • Caris

    Taghti how is ?

  • Jeff

    No Deniro for Raging Bull/Taxi Driver? No Dustin Hoffman for Lenny/Midnight Cowboy? No Peter O’Toole for Lawrence of Arabia? DDL for My Left Foot? PS hoffman for Capote? Come one now…

  • DanF

    its a bit naive to say that Rain Man was non-fictional. It was extrememly loosely based a Savant (mainly the counting) but he behaved nothing like Rainman. He definitely deserved an Oscar

  • Ka Yovino

    Very good site thank you so much for your time in publishing the posts for all of us to learn about.

  • No.10 “Big” the young boy who was Tom Hanks’ best friend (Jared Rushton) should have walked away with some kind of award as his chemistry as Hanks friend was fantastic. No.5 “There Will Be Blood” with Daniel Day Lewis should be replaced with “My Left Foot” starring Lewis. And I would also put Alan Ladd’s performance in “Shane” (1953) as among the greatest lead roles ever filmed.

  • Tracy

    Spencer Tracy, el mejor de la historia

  • petet2112

    Just a couple of things. # 5, Daniel Day-Lewis in “There Will Be Blood”, should have been Daniel Day-Lewis in “My Left Foot”. And secondly, I find it curious yet wonderfully surprised that Spencer Tracy in “Boys Town” is the oldest movie on the list (1938). It just proves that when it comes to making movies and also automobiles for that matter, the old saying “They Don’t Make ‘Em Like They Used To” comes into effect.

  • ironpower

    I liked Edward Norton’s performance in ”Primal Fear”. Also, Denzel Washington has some pretty inpressive roles.