IMDB Top 20 actors of the past 20 years


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1.Tom Hanks

Actor, The Da Vinci Code

“ He won back-to-back Oscars first for Philadelphia, then Forrest Gump. He was the voice of Woody in the Toy Story trilogy, saved Private Ryan and starved himself for Cast Away. He's now become the likable, avuncular face of Hollywood but he still manages to get out great roles such as he did in Charlie Wilson's War ”

2.Russell Crowe

Actor, Gladiator

“ A force of nature the charismatic Crowe seems to dislike what he does but he does it so extremely well it's hard to begrudge him for it. Nominated for three Academy Awards (he won for Gladiator) he's the go-to guy when a film needs a commanding presence but he's also played nuanced schlubs such as in The Insider and Body of Lies. ”

3.Denzel Washington

Actor, American Gangster

“ Washington has five total Oscar nominations. His first win was for his magnificent performance in Glory and his second Oscar was for Training Day (The Hurricane, Malcolm X and Cry Freedom round out the list). He's recently played an apocalyptic drifter and drug kingpin Frank Lucas and shows no sign of slowing down. ”

4.Johnny Depp

Actor, Edward Scissorhands

“ He's played the reprobate, the odd, the drunkard and the murderer and somehow you like him all the same. Throughout there is always a hint of tenderness and fragility in all of his characters, from Captain Jack Sparrow to John Dillinger to the Mad Hatter. ”

5.Sean Penn

Actor, Mystic River

“ Whether it's a scummy lawyer in Carlito's Way or a mentally retarded man in I Am Sam, a grieving father in Mystic River or a real-life gay trail-blazing politician in Milk Penn is always "all-in" in his roles. ”

6.Tom Cruise

Actor, Top Gun

“ A Few Good Men, Mission: Impossible, Jerry Maguire,

Eyes Wide Shut, Magnolia. Love him, hate him, or just feel vaguely unnerved by him, he's more than earned his place here. ”

7.Will Smith

Actor, Independence Day

“ "Mr. 4th of July" has dominated that holiday since Independence Day in 1996. He followed up the next year with Men in Black. Will Smith in a sci-fi movie may be the only sure thing left in Hollywood but he's also a fine actor shining in Six Degrees of SeparationAli, and The Pursuit of Happyness ”

8.George Clooney

Actor, Ocean's Eleven

“ Unlike the actors above him Clooney had no breakout roles prior to 1990; he was a long-suffering TV actor. His role on "ER" however led to From Dusk Til Dawn and it snowballed from there. He's been nominated for three acting Oscars and won for Syriana and has come to personify a kind of old-fashioned Hollywood glamor even while using that celebrity for charitable causes. ”

9.Leonardo DiCaprio

Actor, Titanic

“ DiCaprio became the heart-throb of a generation with Titanic but had already been nominated for an Oscar four years earlier for his outstanding performance in What's Eating Gilbert Grape . He's been in four Scorsese films (Gangs of New York , The Aviator , The Departed , and Shutter Island ) and has a smash hit with Inception . ”

10.Brad Pitt

Actor, Se7en

“ He was a thief first, stealing scenes as J.D. the drifter who makes Geena Davis whine like a puppy in Thelma & Louise, then absconding with the entirety of A River Runs Through It. Next up: Se7en, Twelve Monkeys, Fight Club, The Mexican, Ocean's 11 and The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (a favorite here), and Inglorious Basterds. Much, much, more than just a pretty face. ”

11.Daniel Day-Lewis

Actor, There Will Be Blood

“ He's not been in a lot of film over the last 20 years but they've almost all uniformly been great, filling roles tinged with uncoiling ferocity. His best have been in My Left Foot, Last of the Mohicans, The Age of Innocence, In the Name of the Father, Gangs of New York, and There Will Be Blood, ”

12.Kevin Spacey

Actor, American Beauty

“ From the officious manager of a real estate office (Glengarry Glen Ross) to a stammering, terrified cripple (The Usual Suspects) to a suburbanite adrift in banality (American Beauty) Kevin Spacey has grounded all of his films to reality with biting and knowing performances. ”

13.Jim Carrey

Actor, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

“ He'd been paying his dues for years when he became a movie star overnight with Ace Ventura: Pet Detective. For about ten years his massive hits (The Mask, Dumb and Dumber, Liar, Liar, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, and Bruce Almighty) outweighed the occasional misses (The Cable Guy, The Majestic). We're waiting for his return (notice we didn't say "comeback"). ”

14.Ian McKellen

Actor, The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring

“ The Shakespearean actor has two franchises under his belt. He's both Gandalf in the Lord of the Rings series (his second Oscar nomination was for The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring) and he's Magneto in X-Men. He also lent his voice to a warrior polar bear and you can't get much cooler than that. Before the roles in the major studio films he was brilliant in Gods and Monsters and Richard III. ”

15.Morgan Freeman

Actor, The Shawshank Redemption

“ Often playing the moral center of the films he's in, heck he's even played God twice, Freeman brings a kind of paternal authority to the proceedings. Witness: Se7en, The Shawshank Redemption, Unforgiven, Million Dollar Baby ”

16.Nicolas Cage

Actor, Adaptation.

“ Maybe it's his scattershot approach to picking material that's really made him successful. With so many roles some will be great films such as Adaptation, Leaving Las Vegas, and Matchstick Men. And some will be deliciously campy, such as about the other half of his credits. ”

17.Christian Bale

Actor, The Dark Knight

“ He was a kid in 1992, playing a strike-rallying newspaper carrier in Newsies and he had a fervent fan-base who watched his every role for the next 13 years. His work included the perfect psychopath in American Psycho and a shocking, emaciated role in The Machinist. And then the rest of world really got introduced to him with Batman Begins. He's the only one on this list to not have an Academy Award nomination. ”

18.Robert Downey Jr.

Actor, Iron Man

“ Downey's recent phoenix-like career resurrection as Ironman and beyond was one of the happier things to happen in the last 20 years. His abilities were easily discerned early in lofty fare such as Chaplin (for which he was nominated for Best Actor). His qualities always shone through, regardless if he was in comedies such as Soapdish or films no one went to see, like Kiss Kiss Bang Bang. ”

19.Heath Ledger

Actor, The Dark Knight

“ Nominated for two Oscars--Brokeback Mountain and The Dark Knight--he won for his role as the Joker in Knight. He was just as good in Monster's Ball as the distraught son of an execution guard. ”

20.Jeff Bridges

Actor, The Big Lebowski

“ The Dude. Rightfully received his Academy Award for Crazy Heart(he's been nominated a total of five times) but could have gotten one for The Fisher King or Fearless (though neither were one of the five noms). We salute you, His Dude-ness. ”

Their Article

Not really about the order for me, but agree that Tom Hanks would be the stand out #1. If you're going to comment on who missed out, you have to suggest who to drop... I'm going the other way, I think Ledger, Smith and Cruise really don't deserve to be on there. Edward Norton would fill one of those spots, but not sure about the other 2.

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Hard to define top for these purposes, but that's not a bad list. In combination of awards and box-office that's pretty much accurate. However, despite how much I like Morgan Freeman, it's hard to place him on this list without opening a can of worms. I mean, if he's on there that opens up the list for a lot of people, given that he's rarely the headline name on a film.

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I would put Willem Dafoe on there. But that's probably because I love him in everything he's in.

One major awards nom but he's not a box office draw and hardly ever the headline name in a film. Personal preference is all well and good but you'd be hard pressed to argue Dafoe onto this list working with the usual criteria.

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One major awards nom but he's not a box office draw and hardly ever the headline name in a film. Personal preference is all well and good but you'd be hard pressed to argue Dafoe onto this list working with the usual criteria.

I know, I just figured I'd toss in an alternative to Russell Crowe In lieu of the eventual debate.

Glad to see Jim Carrey on there. I'd love to see more performances from him like Eternal Sunshine.

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