There are lots of good actors out there. Some of them are even great, but who are the top 10 actors of all time?
1. Robert De Niro
In the late 1970s and early 1980s there was no hotter actor on the planet. Like an athlete who goes from winning team to winning team, not only was De Niro acting on such a high level but he was in incredible movies that were both massive artistic and commercial successes. His part as the young Vito Corleone in The Godfather Part II (which he did in Italian) saw him win an Academy Award. From there he went on a tear starring in Tax Driver, Deer Hunter, Raging Ball and King of Comedy. That was a stretch that hasn’t been seen before and will unlikely be seen again. He won two Academy Awards and was nominated twice more; both times he was unlucky to win. He slowed down and his choice of roles wasn’t as stellar as it was before but still there was The Untouchables, Casino and Heat.
2. Marlon Brando
When the Godfather came out there was a lot of talk about the young turks of De Niro and Pacino but the one who starred in the Godfather Part I and took the Oscar was Brando. This saw him gain a second wind after he burst onto the scene in the 1950s. He began on the stage and then burst onto the big screen with a bang when A Streetcar Named Desire came out. Following that came Viva Zapata, Julius Caesar, The Wild One and On the Waterfont. Now in the mid 1950s he was the number one box office draw in the world. On the back of the Godfather came Superman and Apocalypse Now. Nominated for Best Actor seven times he won twice.
3. Jack Nicholson
With 12 Oscar Nominations and three wins, Nicholson is one of the greatest actors of all time, especially in the latter parts of the 20th century. He rose to fame with Easy Rider and that put him on the map. From that he was able to get parts in Five Easy Pieces and Chinatown. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest won him his first Academy Award and firmly established him. He consolidated his presence on the landscape with the Shining and Reds. He won another Academy Award for Terms of Endearment and when he won again for As Good as It Gets won Oscars in three consecutive decades. His roles in The Departed and Batman weren’t major ones but he stole the films. Not to forget his part in A Few Good Men where his you can’t handle the truth speech is the stuff of movie folklore.
4. Spencer Tracy
That Tracy was a movie star from 1930-1960 shows how different a time that was. Spencer Tracy doesn’t resemble a movie star at all to how they do in 2012. When he won back to back Oscars for Captains Courageous and Boys Town he was entrenched as a main man. He would be nominated another seven times in total but wouldn’t win again. His roles in Father of the Bride, Bad Day at Black Rock, Old Man and the Sea, Judgment at Nuremburg and Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner are the stuff of movie legend. When they teach acting at acting classes New York they try to convey what Tracy naturally had. That is the poise and authority which he was able to possess regardless of the role. Actors today could only hope to be in a few movies as good as these.
5. Jimmy Stewart
Jimmy Stewart was a movie star from an era that is so foreign to that of today. Ladies wanted to date him and guys wanted to be his friend and this came across on the screen. Besides being an actor, he saw active duty in the Second World War. His role in It’s a Wonderful World was that which firmly established him as a movie star. He followed this up with Mr Smith Goes to Washington which came out in the same year. From there came The Philadephia Story and this saw him win the Academy Award and was his last big role before the War. Following the war came It’s a Wonderful Life, Rope and Harvey. His association with Alfred Hitchock saw them work again on Vertigo and Anatomy of a Murder that garnered him his last Oscar nomination.
6. Paul Newman
Paul Newman was the biggest celebrity in the world during the 1970s. His roles in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid and the Sting elevated him to stardom that very few have attained. His resume is very impressive – Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Exodus, the Hustler, Hud and Cool Hand Luke were what put him on the map before those two super films came along. He slowed down after this but was still in Slap Shot, the Verdict and The Color of Money. This was the sequel to the Hustler and won him his first Academy Award after 10 nominations. Similar to Al Pacino he arguably won for his weakest performance.
7. Steve McQueen
Steve McQueen was the cool anti-hero of the 1960s and 1970s. That he was the bad boy didn’t harm his reputation at all, in fact it only enhanced it. He was in the Magnificent Seven and from there came a string of classics – Great Escape, The Cincinnati Kid, the Sand Pebbles, Bullitt and the Thomas Crown Affair. At this time he was seen as the sexiest man in the world. In the 1970s he made Papillon and The Towering Inferno. He died tragically young but in his time he starred in a string of incredible films.
8. Tom Hanks
When Tom Hanks began he wasn’t taken seriously. Roles in Bachelor Party, Splash and Money Pit didn’t help. He changed perceptions in Big when he played the role of a 10 year old in an adult’s body. Everything changed for good in 1993 when he was in Philadephia and won the Academy Award for Best Actor. From that he went from one of many to the hottest actor in Hollywood. Sleepless in Seattle, Forrest Gump (which saw him win back to back Academy Awards), Apollo 13, Toy Story and Saving Private Ryan. This was his golden run. In the 21st century he slowed down but still did Cast Away, The Terminal, Da Vinci Code and Charlie Wilson’s War.
9. Harrison Ford
Harrison Ford has never won Oscars but you can’t argue the quality of his work. Starring in both the Star Wars and Indiana Jones franchises established as the number one star of the early 1980s. His movies have earned over 3 billion dollars. If these wasn’t enough, he was also in such fine films as Blade Runner, Witness, Working Girl, Patriot Games, Fugitive and Air Force One. Now he’s 70 he’s slowed down but you can’t argue with what he achieved in that 10 year span.
10. Al Pacino
For a while Al Pacino was in the shadow of Robert De Niro. After all both starred in the Godfather Part II but it was De Niro who stole the form and took the Oscar. Following Godfather Part II, Pacino was in Dog Day Afternoon and And Justice for All, but for the most part lost some of his heat. He got it all back with Scarface. He finally won the Oscar for Scent of a Woman which could arguably be the worst of his 8th nominations. Thereafter came Carlito’s Way, Heat where he reunited with De Niro, City Hall, Donnie Brasco and The Insider.