Top Ten Hollywood Actors

No offense to women, but choosing the Top Ten actors is much more difficult than actresses. There are easily 20-30 men who qualify for consideration. As you can tell by my list of actresses, my Top Ten has nothing to do with who’s the sexiest, hottest attraction in Hollywood. I judge by acting talent and how well each person entertains me.

#10 Gene Hackman – It’s impossible for me to think of Gene Hackman without picturing his bald head in the old Superman movies. My favorite films starring Gene Hackman include Hoosiers, Mississippi Burning, Unforgiven, The Firm, The Quick and the Dead, Crimson Tide, Get Shorty, Absolute Power, Antz, Enemy of the State, and Runaway Jury. Gene Hackman typically plays a cold, hard leader who makes the tough decisions other people can’t make. His characters generally aren’t the emotionally available or vulnerable type.

#9 Robin Williams – Robin Williams had delivered some amazingly unique performances. My favorites include Dead Poets Society, Awakenings, Hook, Aladdin (one of the best animated films ever), Mrs. Doubtfire, Jumanji, Good Will Hunting, Patch Adams, What Dreams May Come, Jakob the Liar, Bicentennial Man, and Insomnia. That’s an impressive list, and I haven’t even seen somewhere between 5-10 of his most recent films. Robin Williams does comedy better than anyone. He also mastered the tear jerker and more recently the suspense thriller.

#8 Dustin Hoffman – You cannot keep Dustin Hoffman from the Top 10. How many actors have learned how to portray the handicapped because Hoffman nailed it in Rain Man. My other favorite Hoffman films are Outbreak, Hook, Mad City, The Messenger, Sphere, and Wag the Dog. Hoffman has an excellent sense of wit and humor.

#7 Jack Nicholson – Most people would have Jack at the top, and I can understand why. Still, I only appreciate his recent films. Jack is the only person to make a decent villain in a Batman movie, and he owned that role. My favorite Nicholson films include As Good As it Gets, About Schmidt, Something’s Gotta Give, and A Few Good Men. I also enjoyed Wolf though it wasn’t received well. There are a couple highly regarded films I haven’t seen yet. No one portrays confidence and arrogance like Jack Nicholson. The epitome of his characters’ attitudes is the scene in Wolf when he pees on another guys leg in a public restroom and while staring at the man with absolute ownership says, “I’m markin’ my territory.”

#6 John Cusack – John Cusak is my guy for dry wit and sarcasm. I haven’t watched his older stuff (i know – it’s sacrilege). He drew my attention in Bullets Over Broadway (excellent movie that nobody talks about). My top Cusak films are Cradle Will Rock, High Fidelity, Serendipity, Max, Identity, and Runaway Jury. Second tier films include Con Air and Must Love Dogs (which was disappointing). There are a couple recent films I still haven’t seen. Cusack is the guy you want to hang out with and discuss pointless issues, politics, and music just so you can hear his long winded, witty responses.

#5 Al Pacino – I like Al Pacino for his flair and charisma. He doesn’t really play too many different roles, but he does what he does well. He sure can give a speech. He deserves mention for The Godfather if nothing else. Then he hits it big in Scent of a Woman, perhaps my favorite Pacino role. Heat, City Hall, and The Insider are all honorable mentions. I liked him in S1m0ne and especially in The Recruit (I just like the genre). He was excellent, though disturbing, in Two for the Money, Insomnia, and The Devil’s Advocate. Al Pacino is THE motivational coach.

#4 Sir Anthony Hopkins – I wanted to place Sir Anthony Hopkins at the top of my list, but he didn’t quite make it. He is an exceptionally entertaining actor, and I wouldn’t trade him for anyone. I’ve only been a fan of him in his old age, however. The oldest Hopkins film I’ve enjoyed was 84 Charing Cross Road (1987). Four years later he revolutionized the role of the villain in The Silence of the Lambs. Howard’s End and Remains of the Day were excellent period pieces. The Trial was disturbing (Kafka, if memory serves). Shadowlands is one of my favorites, because C. S. Lewis has had such a profound influence on my life. Hopkins was legendary in Legends of the Fall. I walked out of Nixon and watched Jumaji instead (I was a teenager). Surviving Picasso was a great video rental in college. I wanted to move to Europe and start painting. I was entertained by the conversion of knowledge to skill in The Edge. Meet Joe Black and Instinct are favorites of mine as well. I cannot say enough about Hannibal (though there are parts where I have to look away or be scarred) and Red Dragon, and he was didn’t disappoint in Proof or The Human Stain. I still haven’t seen two or three of his most recent films. Anthony Hopkins is the epitome of class, intelligence, and style among Hollywood’s leading men.

#3 Denzel Washington – Regardless of what the girl at Starbucks thinks, Denzel is a treasure. I had no idea when I saw him in Ricochet (1991) that Washington would make something of himself in Hollywood. Malcom X blasted him into the stratosphere a year later. The Pelican Brief, Crimson Tide, Virtuosity, and Fallen are his earliest films that I enjoyed. The Siege (1998) is among my Top 20 all-time favorite films. The Bone Collector is one of those films I can watch over and over. I skipped The Hurricane (no interest), but I really enjoyed Training Day, John Q, and Man on Fire. Second tier favorites include Remember the Titans and Inside Man. Denzel Washington is the emotionally balanced alpha dog you want running the show.

#2 Brad Pitt – It will grieve many, I’m sure, to see Brad Pitt at the #2 position. I can’t help it. He has been in more of my favorite movies than any other actor. While Brad Pitt did well in A River Runs Through It, his career didn’t truly begin until Legends of the Fall and Interview with a Vampire both opened in 1994. He was an instant megastar. He followed up with two more incredible performances in 1995 in Se7en and Twelve Monkeys. Sleepers was a quieter hit – a film that should probably only be seen once at most. Pitt returned in 1997 with The Devil’s Own and Seven Years in Tibet. He played Death in one of my Top 20 films in 1998 – Meet Joe Black. He ruled the world in 1999 with Fight Club (every teenager wanted to be that cool). I was personally disappointed with Snatch and The Mexican. I loved Spy Game in 2001, but wished that I could have seen Pitt as a present day operative. Ocean’s Eleven was okay, but Pitt still outplays everyone else in the film. His charisma and style are unmatched. Troy was an epic worth watching at least once. Mr. & Mrs. Smith was one of the most anticipated films ever (because every single person in America wants to sleep with one of the stars). I haven’t seen Babel yet, but it won the award for best drama, so it must be pretty good. Pitt has seven movies in the works between now and 2008. Brad Pitt is the good looking, emotional silent type who exudes confidence and charisma.

#1 – Tom Hanks – for my money, there is no better actor in the world than Tom Hanks. I don’t want to like him sometimes, but I can’t help it. He plays even the most surprising roles well. I first noticed Hanks in The Man With One Red Shoe (1985). I can’t remember The Money Pit, but that was the first film of his I saw in the theaters. Big was, of course, his breakout role. I absolutely loved The ‘Burbs. He did well in A League of Their Own, but in my book it all began with Sleepless in Seattle. That film is in my Top 20. Then there’s Forrest Gump, Saving Private Ryan (I walked out of that one) and my next favorite, You’ve Got Mail. He was excellent in The Green Mile, Cast Away, Road to Perdition (surprised me with that one), The Terminal, and The Da Vinci Code. He has at least 6 films planned for the next couple years, and I expect 5 of the 6 to be stellar performances. My least favorite Tom Hanks films are The Ladykillers (hated it) and Joe Versus the Volcano (I never recovered from the suicidally dismal office scenes at the beginning). Tom Hanks simply hasn’t met a role he can’t do as well or better than everyone else.

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Daniel Dessinger

Daniel is an avid people watcher and writer who shares regularly on his self-awareness site, Supposed.ly. Founder of CultureFeast.com in 2005. Co-Founder of Mommypotamus.com in 2009. He's on a mission to challenge the questions we ask and the assumptions we make.

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