Sometime ago, I collaborated with my brother, Ian, on a list of actors and actresses who we equally felt were talented and worthy enough to make a top list of favorites. Since then, we have both updated and revised our list to an extent that we decided on reworking it for you, Dear Readers, and so…here we are. Today we are going to primarily focus on male actors. We plan to someday soon center on a post for our top favorite leading ladies. (http://ianhauer.wordpress.com/)
In this post, I am going to give my brief opinion of the actor, and each clip will be followed by Ian’s take. We decided on going from “lowest” to “highest”. There is also the intent of relying on living actors in this post. Also, as I right this, we just decided on mentioning our favorite film and least favorite film of the individual actors. That reasonably clear? Let’s begin…
TOP TEN ACTORS:
You probably think I started this out just because the man has my name, but nay, I say. Nay! Mr. Freeman is an incredibly talented actor and surprisingly no relic to Hollywood! He has only been in showbiz for just under thirty years, but he definitely stands out from so many others! Naturally, the man has a spectacular voice. I mean, who else would be more perfect to narrate two hours of penguins walking around giant ice cubes? Love him best in Million Dollar Baby (2003), and will have to put Dreamcatcher (2004) lowest on the totem pole (mostly due to the fact that Freeman does not fit that character whatsoever. I just…I just couldn’t do his version of a crazy General Patton).
Ian’s Take: Freeman is indeed a talented actor. I particularly enjoyed Million Dollar Baby and The Shawshank Redemption. If I wanted my life narrated, I would choose this actor. I will say that Morgan Freeman is usually playing Morgan Freeman, and by that I mean he doesn’t have a lot of difference from character to character. Then again, it seems to be working for him.
Ah…Kevin. I debated where to put him on my list, but in the long run, I think he’s in a good place. Mr. Spacey has such a subtle intimacy and energy that I can’t successfully describe. A whole lot of his acting is in his eyes. I read how he is one of those men who loves the challenges of new, unique roles, and never shies away from it! I need to see more of his films, but my personal fav of his thus far is American Beauty (1999), but my least would currently be Superman Returns (2006), more or less because it just wasn’t that superb of a movie and he was not even an anchor that held the story down.
Ian’s Take: Spacey made #5 on my list. American Beauty was an interesting (and very well-made) film, but I don’t see it as Spacey’s best performance just because I don’t feel he was given a broad enough character. This is another actor whose voice is particularly memorable.
First off, he’s Australian who played an Australian in a movie called Australia (2008). Any-who–Mr. Jackman ignites every performance with some boost of energy and power that brings back a certain depth of theater and Broadway, but we can give him credit for that from having a stage background. I debate between two movies that are best: Xmen & X2 (2000, 2003) and Les Miserables (2012). Least…eh, oh, ah…let’s go with Van Helsing (2004).
Ian’s Take: Haha…love the opening line. But seriously,
Australia may not have been Jackman’s award-winning moment. He’s made a few interesting choices in his film career and I can’t say that he always takes the deepest of roles. However, he makes a killer Wolverine (pun intended) and his stage background is evident through his chemistry.
Originally labeled as a sophisticated villain, Rickman has changed the name of the game and has introduced us to a new style of acting. At least, delivery. He delivers everything so well. I–I just am at a loss for words again. Favorite role? Oh, gosh, that’s impossible! How ’bout Severus Snape in the Harry Potter (2001-2011) franchise? Least thus far would be Michael Collins. His role was never clearly defined or that deep. I felt as though his part was drastically cut back when it came to the theatrical release. So, just an undefined character is the flaw I have with that part. Snape. Oh………love it. One of the best big screen characters I have ever seen played.
Ian’s Take: What??? Eamon de Valera was a very deep character. They didn’t focus much on his role because the title of the film was Michael Collins! Anyway, his portrayal of Severus Snape is easily classic, and you’re absolutely right – he is the epitome of a sophisticated villain.
The first film I saw him in was Amazing Grace (2006), when he was still a relatively unknown actor. Although well-played, there was nothing significant about that role that made me go back to him again and again. However, once I sat back and took in Sherlock (TV Series 2011-), I was bedazzled by his supernatural talent! He is one of those who I just feel like the room is vibrating to his voice, or bending down on one knee when he enters a room. I don’t know how it’s done, but I’m sure if we knew it, everyone would be attempting the same feat. I was deeply moved by his villainous performance in Star Trek: Into Darkness (2013), but was not a huge fan of his part in Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (2011). Out of all those spies, they made Benedict play that one. I think he could have played another part in the movie–almost any part–and done wonders.
Ian’s Take: He was sort of forgettable in Tinker Tailor, but then again, I forgot most characters because I kept getting headaches 20 minutes into the film. I think it would be easier to watch Inception backwards. But enough about that. Cumberbatch is a rising star, and I am curious to see him take on different roles as his career matures. I don’t quite feel like bending the knee when he enters the room, but maybe that’s because I’m glued to the screen. What’s the word for his fan club…the CumberCollective?
Why would someone mark Tom Hanks off their list? Ever since his over-the-top performance in Big (1988), audiences of all ages have paid close attention to his mammoth of emotional-rollercoaster of parts! I love his accessibility. He is a very connected actor, very easy to watch and listen to, that I just can’t say no to. I debate between Forrest Gump (1995) and Cast Away (2000) as his highlighted roles, but would frown on on Joe Versus the Volcano (1990), because that movie just had zero energy. It was so deadbeat, and not even Mr. Hanks’ brilliance could save it.
Ian’s Take: Hanks didn’t make my list, but that’s not because he isn’t talented. He does have a certain accessibility, a certain humanity, that he brings to each role. He’s very obviously Tom Hanks – due in part to his looks – but he is a hardworking actor and is one of those men who seems to have fun doing what he does. Some of his film choices are questionable (Cloud Atlas), and occasionally his accent is a little weird (Catch Me If You Can), but overall he is very solid.
I am in awe of Robin Williams. He is another man who pulls you in, but then he makes you fall on the floor laughing to death or does his best to break your heart with a performance so real and tragically sad that you just can’t stand it!–and yet, he can also creep the heeby-jeebies out of you in movies like One Hour Photo (2002) and Insomnia (2002). His limitless energy is intelligence as an actor are outstanding and I can’t think of someone who has that outlandishly quirky and uniquely blessed. I am partial to Mrs. Doubtfire (1993) but Patch Adams (1998) is an immediate contender for second place. Least? RV (2006).
Ian’s Take: Hmm…Williams is one of the great comedic actors, but it’s hard to distance those roles from his dramatic ones. He was fine in Dead Poets Society but didn’t offer too much in Good Will Hunting – yes, you read that right. I did like his work in Insomnia but I think the film was just well put together. If I want a good laugh, I’m pretty likely to pull down a Williams film, but if it’s overall acting chops, I may opt for someone else.
…Is an explanation needed? Tony is a beast. Every movie of Hopkins is stellar and takes a new curve to his meaty roles that he dons so well. I read that he is religious about memorizing his lines before working on the character’s isms, and that makes me respect him even more. I think of Anthony as an Odin over (at least) British Cinema, if not Hollywood as well. So many movies are so phenomenal that I find it so difficult to select one. I suppose Silence of the Lambs (1991) will do for now. I didn’t care for what I saw of Red Dragon (2002), because it felt–from a directing standpoint–like it was trying to heighten the tension and macabre of Hannibal Lecter more than developing any story. That’s just the itch that I can’t scratch, I guess.
Ian’s Take: Hannibal Lecter is certainly a beast. I mean – yes, Hopkins does deliver, and he makes it look so easy! I loved his characterization of Odin – I truly cannot imagine another actor taking it to that level. I guess I’ve never thought of him as an ‘itch’, but different strokes for different folks. Didn’t much care for his role in Titus, but I guess I’m just not too fond of movies where psycho kids smash entire kitchens and then teleport into gladiatorial arenas run by blue-painted Brinks truck drivers. That was weird.
Driven, pure, untouched, unspoiled; look here and see this is the face of method acting. I have rarely seen such intensity brought to life on film so many times by just one actor. Day-Lewis stretching the grounds of which all modern method-actors work and continues to raise the bar with more and more parts he plays–even though we sometimes have to wait for him after three or four year absences. I reckon I will side with his superb role as Bill Cutting in Gangs of New York (2002), but shrug off what I saw of Nine (2009). That didn’t make much sense to me.
Ian’s Take: Um, untouched and unspoiled? Are we talking about hobbits or Daniel Day-Lewis? Certainly, no movie that Day-Lewis has starred in brings the word ‘spoiled’ to mind, but hey. Yeah, Danny boy takes method acting to a whole new level, and I think that’s characterized by the space that will occur between his film jobs. I respect the man for his taste in characters and his commitment to the art. It almost negates the presence of the Keanu Reeves and Vin Diesels of the world. Almost.
Whose toes didn’t curl when they heard Neeson’s threatening monologue “I don’t know who you are…” speech? There are so very few men with the capability to grind us into our seats and watch him perform to his fullest extent before our very eyes. He is the mentor-figure of all motion pictures. Just sayin’. Liam never fails to deliver the strength and vulnerability of every character he takes on, leaving us speechless and begging for more. He has shocked millions in the last few years by suddenly taking a leap into action films, which he does quite well!–but who would have thunk Aslan playing a former CIA operative? I certainly didn’t! Because I am hyped up about the surprisingly moving performance, I am voting Taken (2008) today. I will probably go back and forth with that and Schindler’s List (1992) day in and day out. However…least fav? K-19: The Widowmaker (2002), mostly ’cause he didn’t get enough screen time, and when he did, when never knew that much about him. He was just a navigator there to pat Harrison Ford on the back and try to help make the submarine mission continue before they all died of exposure to radiation.
Ian’s Take: K-19 was an…erm…’interesting’ film. Especially the Russian accents. I think they confused the former Soviet republic of Georgia with the peach-growing state of the American southeast. But yes, enough about that. Despite a few less-than-savory films, Neeson continues to rise above the mess and deliver believable performances in nearly every film. I find it humorous that such an accomplished actor became a successful action star while in his 60s, but you really can’t argue with his numbers. Neeson is one of the greats and deserves a high place on any list.
Sam Elliott, Gary Oldman, Tommy Lee Jones, Michael Caine, Mel Gibson, Scott Glenn, and Michael Fassbender.
Here’s the link to Ian’s post: http://ianhauer.wordpress.com/2013/11/30/actors