Becoming an actor is no easy feat and getting your name in the headlines as the industry’s biggest star is almost next to impossible. It takes something exceptional to become of one the greatest names in acting. Digging deep into one’s inner emotions and genuinely letting go of all limitations to operate efficiently outside of one’s comfort zone is a challenge not meant for the weak. No, the art of performing is as tricky as it is terrifying, in front of all those criticizing eyes the fantasy must be made a reality, the impossible turned possible and the naysayers transformed into believers. To properly develop an interesting character and diligently carry a compelling story is the essential day-to-day in the life of any great actor.
Throughout the years Hollywood has spawned so many individuals that were labeled the next best thing. Sadly, for as many as it predicts to be larger than life, it spits just as many of those poor souls into the gutter of mediocrity and then finally into oblivion. While their IMDb pages will last forever, their memory will eventually fade. But this isn’t always the case for a lucky few of the cinema world’s finest on-screen players. Of all the names to hit the Marquee, here are ten of the greatest actors to ever grace the silver screen.
Table of Contents
The name Leonardo DiCaprio has carried some weight in the industry for some time. The man received his first Oscar nomination in 1994 for his work in What’s Eating Gilbert Grape. DiCaprio’s career would then rise past the stratosphere when he starred in James Cameron 9 time Academy Award-winning, and Box Office smash hit Titanic. Ever since then the performer has continuously been on everyone’s list as one of the greatest actors the world has ever seen.
Of his many characters, the most notable and probably the best indicators of his superior acting ability are that of Howard Hughes, J. Edgar Hoover, and Hugh Glass. The actor is so well suited for his job; some of the top directors in the field always seek him out such as Clint Eastwood, Alejandro G. Iñárritu, and Martin Scorsese. Because of these efforts, he has gone on to receive nominations for his work in films such as Blood Diamond, The Aviator, and The Wolf of Wall Street. His streak of not taking home the gold was finally broken in 2016 when he won for his work in the powerful film The Revenant. As well as starring in several great titles across his illustrious career, the man has over 200 nominations and won almost 100 awards.
It is hard to not think of Sidney Poitier when having the conversation about who to include in the list of great actors. The man has had so many great titles listed in his filmography with each performance being better than the previous one; there is no doubt he paved the way for so many great performers to follow in his footsteps. Poitier was the first ever Black actor to win an Academy Award. He won for Best Actor for his role in the 1963 film Lilies of the Field. He also starred in other great classics such as The Defiant Ones in 1958 and In The Heat of The Night in 1967.
Sidney Poitier was a legend in his own right and will continue to be considered one of the greats for many years to come. Besides his Oscar, the acting powerhouse has also taken home the prestigious Cecil B. DeMille Lifetime Achievement Award, become a member of the BAFTA fellowship, and is a recipient of the Honorary Award at Oscars. Because of these many monumental achievements, many aspiring individuals seeking to join the world of acting professionally to this day look to Sydney’s work for inspiration and many of today’s prolific actors say that the man’s accomplishments in cinema have helped motivate them to do the same.
Al Pacino is a fantastic patron of the arts. The man has a gift for bringing extraordinary characters to life and knows how to captivate audiences with game-changing performances. He has starred in so many great feature films that are renowned as classics, and they will most likely continue to hold up with fans many years into the future. Some of these next level narratives helmed by the games most celebrated director’s include Michael Mann’s Heat, Francis Ford Coppola’s The Godfather Parts 1 & 2, and Sydney Lumet’s Dog Day Afternoon. Pacino’s fearless portrayals brought to life on the big screen has not only made him a household name but a legend in his own right.
Pacino has garnered 70 total award nominations in his time in the acting game and of those nominations, 47 times he took home a win, which helps solidify his argument for a spot on the GOAT list. The man is a complete powerhouse when it comes to the granddaddy award of them all, the Oscars. Al has been nominated ten times for roles in such classic motion pictures as Serpico, Dick Tracy, and Glengarry, Glen Ross. He won the award in 1993 for Best Actor in a leading role for his work in the film Scent of A Woman. Knowing this, it’s hard to debate Pacino’s legacy as a truly magnificent performer and one of the all-time greats given everything he has achieved for his talents in front of the camera.
It is no surprise that many experts and professional entities have considered Dustin Hoffman to be one of the all-time best actors ever to grace a major motion picture. His work in such impactful titles as The Graduate, Midnight Cowboy, and Tootsie only scathes the surface on how great this man is at acting. The actor is notoriously known for his versatile portrayal of the antihero and his flawless execution of emotionally vulnerable characters. He has a substantial range and takes direction very well. Even his made for TV films are the stuff of legends, with his infamous performance as Willy Loman in The Death of A Salesman being a prime example of that factor.
Dustin Hoffman has achieved so much in his career, which only goes to prove his superiority in the world of acting. He has taken home two Academy Awards, six Golden Globes, four BAFTAs and Two Emmy Awards. It should also be known that he has also received the Cecil B. DeMille Lifetime Achievement Award. This honor is given by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association for outstanding contributions to the world of entertainment. With Oscar-winning roles in Kramer Vs. Kramer and Rain Man on his resume, it’s not hard to understand why he was chosen for such an honor. And if that isn’t enough, Hoffman has also received the coveted AFL Life Achievement Award and the Kennedy Center Honors Award.
A great actor is only as good as the character he portrays. If there is one guy, who has played some truly memorable and entertaining roles it is none other then Tom Hanks himself. Hanks is probably one of the most recognizable faces in the game and is without a doubt a household name. His work in films like Cast Away, Forest Gump, and Big are some of the best experiences audiences have ever had watching a movie. He has a knack for playing relatable characters that must overcome adversity. In a sense, Hanks is like the most excellent role model anyone could ever hope for because he isn’t just one good guy; he is all the good guys.
Whether he’s running the Washington Post trying to expose the truth behind Vietnam, a Captain dealing with modern-day pirates, or a soldier trying to save one of his brothers in arms, Tom Hanks is the guy everyone loves to root for with a bucket of popcorn on their lap. It’s no surprise he has won two Academy Awards, the Stanley Kubrick Britannia Award for Excellence in Film from the BAFTAs, A Kennedy Center Honorary Award, not to mention the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Barack Obama. All this adds up to Hanks being one of the best to ever grace the silver screen.
Sir Daniel Day-Lewis
Of all the people to lead a film, one man is notoriously known for his constant devotion to his roles. This guy completely immerses himself in the art he’s playing even when the cameras aren’t rolling. This is sometimes done in excess to which the person in question’s health can adversely be affected. To achieve a legendary performance, one must go beyond what is expected. Sir Daniel Day-Lewis is one of the greatest method actors ever and is a fantastic performer when it comes to the world of motion pictures.
Sir Day-Lewis received a knighthood for his services to drama which is, in itself, a game-changing accomplishment that not many can say they’ve achieved. Despite having been bestowed such an honor, the actor does not have have a massive list of films under his belt as he was known to be very picky about which roles he’s d take on. His turn as the Butcher in Gangs of New York is legendary, and his run as Hawkeye in Last of the Mohicans showcased his ability as an artist. He is the only actor to have ever won three Academy Awards in the category of Best Actor. So it is safe to say that Sir Day-Lewis is a very well respected actor of his generation and undoubtedly one of the greatest actors of all time.
Nobody does crazy quite like Jack Nicholson. This gifted individual was known for taking on some seriously whacked out roles and exquisitely bringing these unique oddballs to life on the big screen in front of millions. He had no problem tapping into the crazy everyone else keeps at bay. Nicholson made a killing off being a nut. Cool guy Jack also wowed spectators with performances as private detectives, military officers, and the occasional murderous gangster. Let’s just say when he wasn’t sitting courtside at a Lakers game, he was killing it in the movie business as one of the games best in acting.
The two roles he is arguably most famous for is the ax-wielding madman Jack Torrance from the Stanley Kubrick masterpiece The Shining and The Joker from Tim Burton’s Batman. Both of which he did a fantastic job at and fans to this day praise those performances. Besides that Nicholson has had Oscar nominations in the double digits and taken home three Academy Awards, two for a leading role and one for a supporting role. He has starred in films that make up many of top ten lists including One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Easy Rider, The Departed, A Few Good Men, and Chinatown. It is no wonder at age 57 he became the youngest person ever to receive the AFI Lifetime Achievement Award.
One of the first cultural icons to come from the world of cinema is without a shadow of a doubt Humphrey Bogart. The man was an acting powerhouse from the 1930s to the 1950s. The films he has starred in are revered as classics and still hold up in the modern era. Of all his great titles the ones that truly stick out showcasing his greatness as an actor are The Caine Mutiny, The Maltese Falcon, The Treasure of Sierra Madre, and of course Casablanca. Not to mention the performance that won him his Academy Award from the film The African Queen.
Bogart had a style all his own that some consider being well ahead of his time. He was a different kind of cool and had a heart of gold. This grizzled man would go on to become one of the legends of Hollywood and then be named the most excellent male star of classic American cinema by The American Film Institute. For Bogart to not be considered one of the greatest that ever was would be an epic tragedy.
Robert De Niro
Robert De Niro is one of the all-time greats, and his body of work proves this ten times over. From his comedic runs in Meet the Parents and Analyze This to his non-comedic part in Martin Scorsese’s The Comedian, there is no shortage of legendary performances out of this great artist. His work in Goodfellas and Casino are alone worthy of Hall of Fame status. He has had an illustrious run of powerful moments in cinematic history that will live on long into the future. It’s no surprise he was awarded the coveted Cecil B. DeMille Lifetime Achievement Award in 2011 for his efforts to bring something truly special to the world of acting.
In his time in Tinseltown, he has been nominated for seven Academy Awards and taken home two Oscars. He took home his first prestigious statue for his role in The Godfather Part II as a young Vito Corleone; a character played by Marlon Brando in The first Godfather film. De Niro would later take home the award for Best Actor in a leading role for his performance in Raging Bull. Films like Cape Fear, Taxi Driver, and Silver Linings Playbook are also a testament to his amazing ability to captivate an audience every time he is on screen.
Denzel Washington is one of the most intense actors. He is a powerhouse when it comes too acting. Some would consider him to be better then the rest and those people have a lot of reasons to back up that claim. The man has worked with some of the best directors the world of cinema has ever seen, and he has played some fantastic real-life figures such as Malcolm X, Frank Lucas, and boxer Rube ‘The Hurricane’ Carter. He has had an illustrious career that earned him the Cecil Be DeMille Lifetime Achievement award in 2016 as well as serval other honorable accolades.
Washington has won a Tony Award, two Golden Globes, and two Academy Awards. His first Oscar was for his supporting role in the war drama Glory and his second was for the leading role category as a corrupt LAPD narcotics detective Alonzo Harris in Training Day. Almost every one of his performances is more memorable than the next, and they all are excellent examples as to why Denzel Washington should be remembered as one of the greatest of all time.