Probably everybody on this list thus far could have been debated, questioned, and flat out wrong. But if ever there was a guy that everyone could agree that is just plain better than the rest, its Denzel Washington. Some people just arent that talented at acting so they make up for it with passion and hard work. Some people have so much talent but not enough work ethic to ever really shine to the top. Then we sit down put in a movie and Denzel Washington comes on the screen. Pure perfection is what we call it. Not a flaw in his game. It looks so difficult for us to do but when he does it looks so effortless. We loved him in American Gangster because his smooth yet always demanding our respect self nature is the exact definition of what being a gangster is all about. We love Denzel because we believe he is a man of the people and for the people. But we believe him to always be a fair man, wanting things done a certain way and not to gloat about it. Do these things and you will never step on Denzels shoes. And you better never, because he might just say “King Kong aint got shit on me.” Check out that famous line in his oscar winning movie Training Day.
Every now and again we feel something so strong for another that you can only wish nothing but good can ever be graced upon their life. We as human beings know this to be such a rare commodity within our very own natural selfs, that when we do experience it we are overwhelmed with such joy and humility that you can only wish to experience it everyday. This is how I feel about Tom Hanks. His movies have moved me, inspired me, and shook my core in ways that I never sought to imagine. We have to ask ourselves why is he so good? Not the greatest looking actor, nor the funniest, nor the biggest. But its what he makes us believe in ourselves when he graces us with 90 to 120 minutes. Whether you believe it or not, we all have seen one movie of his that has made us want to be a better person in one way or another. Besides the fact that he has had more films gross over a 100 million dollars than any other actor spreads volumes. Listen to this resume. Saving Private Ryan, Cast Away, Catch Me If You Can, Forrest Gump, DaVinci Code, Angels and Demons, Philadelphia, Apollo 13, A League of Their Own, Big, Sleepless in Seattle, The Green Mile, and Joe Versus the Volcano. Its a list that cant be compared and nobody and I mean nobody has a list of better movies than Tom Hanks. Check out his remarkable performance here in Philadelphia.
I dont care what you think of the mans politics. I want you just for one second to watch any performance he has given since ripening into this powerful force that is Sean Penn the actor. Watch Mystic River and tell me you dont feel for his loss as his daughter was found murdered. Watch All the Kings Men and tell me you dont buy into what he is selling. Watch I Am Sam and tell me that you dont desperately feel that a father is losing his grips with the only thing that makes him tick in the first place. Sean Penn is where other actors want to find themselves. TO THE TOP. He is up there not alone but with very few men. His go to play. Passion. Delivered better than anyone else and taken to another level. Probably a reason he has won two academy awards in the last ten years. He is one of those guys that I could have put at number one and only those who argue with his politics could differ from the that reality. One of my all time favorites. Politics and Cinematic Adventures. Check out his powerful, magical performance in maybe the most moving 90 seconds of film ever put together. His scene is Mystic River.
There are no limitations to how far one Mr. Jack Nicholsons talents may go. The only unfortunate thing about him now is that he seems to enjoy court side seats to the Lakers more than he does starring in that next great cinematic masterpiece. But let me tell you that when Jack was making movie after movie sending mass production of films out his door left and right there might have been no one better. When he first grazed our screens as Jimmy Wallace in nice little piece entitled, The Cry Baby Killer back in 1958 we learned of his talents. But it wasnt until 1975 when we first decided to never take our eyes off of him again. That year the movie “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” came out and Jack stunned us all with an Oscar winning performance. He has gone on to deliver many more masterpieces and unforgettable pieces of framework, Easy Rider, Batman, Shining, The Departed, etc…. The only sad news is that Jack is in his 70’s and has zero projects underway. If we have seen all that we have seen by him. Let it be. Let it be that Jack Nicholson has portrayed himself as one of the best actors of all time. #5 to be exact. Check him out here in one of my personal favorites, Five Easy Pieces.
Insert perfect Russian accent here. Now sprinkle in crazy psychotic mannerisms on top of it. John Malkovich does method acting like Charlie Sheen does drugs and three ways. He’s a brilliant actor with an astounding resume. Conair, Rounders, Dangerous Liaisons, The Man in the Iron Mask, Being John Malkovich etc… He has this intricate way about his delivery that almost passes as poetry. Top 6 for a reason. The question isnt whether he should have been put on this list, but is he high enough? Obviously, we know my answer but one hundred different reasons say that he should be on this list. Timing, magic, versatility, passion, and good ole fashion acting. To be quite honest with you, he scares me and makes me nervous for any character that finds themselves in a scene with him because he is just that damn good at his job that everybody else gets to be second rate. Check him out in this scene from Rounders. I wouldnt want to play him in poker ever.
Who could have ever thought that Edward Norton with his mostly soft exterior, had the interior of a psychotic maniac at times. He doesnt look like someone who can transform into this darker, stronger, more intimidating version of his former self. Doing it just as fast as we switch the light on and off, just as many times for that matter to. With every performance he gives I find him to be more convincing, more believable, more original. Whether he is the twitchy, always questioning office employee from the Fight Club, or the tough rugged Nazi loving skinhead in American History X. Whatever it may be, Edward Norton is making you buy whatever he is selling. And as an actor thats really all you can ask for. I mean the number one rule on talking about Edward Norton is not talking about Edward Norton. Check out the greatest monologue ever written for any self starting drama actor to be, in the movie 25th Hour.
Most people are just average at most things. Most people go through life saying they were descent at a certain something or “I was pretty good back in my day.” But sometimes some people are just lucky enough to be great a just one thing. Can you imagine over excelling at something so much that people actually start taking notice on how good you are at said subject. Robert Deniro is one of those rare individuals who happen to be great at one thing. ACTING. Maybe he has pigeon holed himself into certain styles of genre. But he is so good at that genre that we keep watching more and more. To me, he has achieved royalty in the acting field because he is what everyman wishes they could be. Bold, smart, and fearless. He’s the tough guy that comes to the party and walks away with your girlfriend. But realistically he just happens to be really good at scaring the living hell out of us all. Watch him in this Raging Bull clip.