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Ranking Best Leading Actor of All Time

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  • awardskel
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    Nov 6th, 2010
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    #108959

    Tier 1: The Best of the Best
    1. Robert De Niro, Raging Bull
    2. Marlon Brando, On the Waterfront
    3. Daniel Day-Lewis, There Will Be Blood
    4. Anthony Hopkins, The Silence of the Lambs
    5. James Cagney, Yankee Doodle Dandy
    6. Gregory Peck, To Kill a Mockingbird
    7. Nicolas Cage, Leaving Las Vegas
    8. Alec Guinness, The Bridge on the River Kwai
    9. Gary Cooper, High Noon
    10. Daniel Day-Lewis, My Left Foot

    Tier 2: Really Solid Performances
    11. Gene Hackman, The French Connection
    12. Maximilian Schell, Judgment at Nuremberg
    13. Sean Penn, Milk
    14. Jeremy Irons, Reversal of Fortune
    15. William Hurt, Kiss of the Spider Woman
    16. Robert Duvall, Tender Mercies
    17. F. Murray Abraham, Amadeus
    18. Broderick Crawford, All the King’s Men
    19. Geoffrey Rush, Shine
    20. David Niven, Separate Tables
    21. Peter Finch, Network
    22. Tom Hanks, Forrest Gump
    23. Ray Milland, The Lost Weekend
    24. Jack Nicholson, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest
    25. Clark Gable, It Happened One Night
    26. Denzel Washington, Training Day
    27. Frederic March, The Best Years of Our Lives
    28. Burt Lancaster, Elmer Gantry
    29. Ronald Colman, A Double Life
    30. Forest Whitaker, The Last King of Scotland

    Tier 3: Awesome Performances/Sentimental Favorites
    31. Marlon Brando, The Godfather
    32. Sidney Poitier, Lilies of the Field
    33. Dustin Hoffman, Kramer vs. Kramer
    34. Rod Steiger, In the Heat of the Night
    35. Tom Hanks, Philadelphia
    36. Kevin Spacey, American Beauty
    37. Gary Cooper, Sergeant York
    38. Paul Muni, The Story of Louis Pasteur
    39. Jon Voight, Coming Home
    40. Lee Marvin, Cat Ballou

    Tier 4: Solid Performances All Around (Not my Favorites)
    41. Philip Seymour Hoffman, Capote
    42. George C. Scott, Patton
    43. Art Carney, Harry and Tonto
    44. Dustin Hoffman, Rain Man
    45. Adrien Brody, The Pianist
    46. Laurence Olivier, Hamlet
    47. Colin Firth, The King’s Speech
    48. Richard Dreyfuss, The Goodbye Girl
    49. Rex Harrison, My Fair Lady
    50. Jamie Foxx, Ray
    51. Wallace Beery, The Champ
    52. Charlton Heston, Ben Hur
    53. Jack Lemmon, Save the Tiger
    54. Frederic March, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
    55. Ernest Borgnine, Marty
    56. Henry Fonda, On Golden Pond
    57. Paul Scofield, A Man for All Seasons
    58. Jack Nicholson, As Good as It Gets
    59. Paul Newman, The Color of Money
    60. Jeff Bridges, Crazy Heart
    61. Ben Kingsley, Gandhi

    Tier 5: Performances that are Good/Enjoyable, but…meh
    62. Michael Douglas, Wall Street
    63. Daniel Day-Lewis, Lincoln
    64. Humphrey Bogart, The African Queen
    65. Spencer Tracy, Captains Courageous
    66. Paul Lukas, Watch on the Rhine
    67. Al Pacino, Scent of a Woman
    68. Russell Crowe, Gladiator
    69. Lionel Barrymore, A Free Soul
    70. Emil Jannings, The Last Command
    71. Victor McLaglen, The Informer
    72. James Stewart, The Philadelphia Story
    73. Charles Laughton, The Private Life of Henry VIII
    74. William Holden, Stalag 17
    75. Sean Penn, Mystic River
    76. Jose Ferrer, Cyrano de Bergerac

    Tier 6: The Worst of the Worst
    77. Spencer Tracy, Boys Town
    78. Robert Donat, Goodbye, Mr. Chips
    79. Bing Crosby, Going My Way
    80. Warner Baxter, In Old Arizona
    81. Roberto Benigni, Life Is Beautiful
    82. George Arliss, Disraeli
    83. Yul Brynner, The King and I
    84. Jean Dujardin, The Artist
    85. Cliff Robertson, Charly
    86. John Wayne, True Grit

    Tier 7: No Longer Viewable
    87. Emil Jannings, The Way of All Flesh 

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    CanadianFan
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    #108961

    I’d put DDL number one for “There Will Be Blood”. 

    You have Sean Penn (Milk) way too high. In fact, I would consider putting him close to tier 6, because it’s just so over-the-top and hammy. Moreover, he beat a truly great performance from Mickey Rourke. I think DDL’s “Lincoln” is better than Bridges in “Crazy Heart”.

    I haven’t seen all of these, though. 

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    babypook
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    Nov 4th, 2010
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    #108962

    I find these really hard to rank. Impossible even.  I sure love the perfs you’ve listed as the Best of the Best.

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    keithw
    Participant
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    Aug 17th, 2012
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    #108963

    My top 5 winners for all time (ranked in order of preference):
    1.  Jack Nicholson in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest
    2.  Daniel Day-Lewis in There Will be Blood
    3.  Jon Voight in Coming Home
    4.  Gregory Peck in To Kill a Mockingbird
     5.  Gene Hackman in The French Connection

    I also loved Art Carney in Harry & Tonto.  I know he was a sentimental favourite, but it is a “quietly” excellent performance.  I would rank him sixth. 

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    tonorlo
    Participant
    Joined:
    Oct 4th, 2011
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    #108964


    BEST OF THR BEST


     


    1.     
    Marlon
    Brando, “On the Waterfront”


    2.     
    Gregory
    Peck, “To Kill a Mockingbird”


    3.     
    Robert
    Donat, “Goodbye, Mr. Chips”


    4.     
    Daniel
    Day-Lewis, “My Left Foot”


    5.     
    Robert
    DeNiro, “Raging Bull”


    6.     
    Ray
    Milland, “The Lost Weekend”


    7.     
    James
    Cagney, “Yankee Doodle Dandy”


    8.     
    Tom
    Hanks, “Forrest Gump”


    9.     
    Spencer
    Tracy, “Boys Town”


    10.  Gary Cooper, “High Noon”


    11.  Burt Lancaster, “Elmer Gantry”


    12.  Ben Kingsley, “Gandhi”


    13.  Rex Harrison, “My Fair Lady”


    14.  Henry Fonda, “On Golden Pond”


    15.  Alec Guinness, “The Bridge on the
    River Kwai”


    16.  Paul Scofield, “A Man for All
    Seasons”


     


    CANNY MARRIAGE OF MOVIE STAR AND ACTOR RESULTING IN A
    WHOLE GREATER THAN THE SUM OF THE PARTS


     


    17.  George C. Scott, “Patton”


    18.  Lionel Barrymore, “A Free Soul”


    19.  George Arliss, “Disraeli”


    20.  Jack Nicholson, “One Flew Over
    the Cuckoo’s Nest”


    21.  Charles Laughton, “The Private
    Life of Henry VIII”


    22.  Ronald Colman, “A Double Life”


    23.  Broderick Crawford, “All the King’s
    Men”


    24.  Richard Dreyfuss, “The Goodbye
    Girl”


    25.  Fredric March, “Dr. Jekyll and
    Mr. Hyde”


    26.  Jose Ferrer, “Cyrano de Bergerac”


    27.  Anthony Hopkins, “The Silence of
    the Lambs”


     


    STURDY WORK THAT OFTEN LOOKS DECEPTIVELY EASIER THAN
    IT IS




    28.  Charlton Heston, “Ben-Hur”


    29.  Rod Steiger, “In the Heat of the
    Night”


    30.  Sean Penn, “Milk”


    31.  John Wayne, “True Grit”


    32.  Jon Voight, “Coming Home”


    33.  Paul Lukas, “Watch on the Rhine”


    34.  Gene Hackman, “The French
    Connection”


    35.  Victor McLaglen, “The Informer”


    36.  Daniel Day-Lewis, “Lincoln”


    37.  Jack Lemmon, “Save the Tiger”


    38.  Laurence Olivier, “Hamlet”


    39.  Ernest Borgnine, “Marty”


    40.  Marlon Brando, “The Godfather”


    41.  Jeremy Irons, “Reversal of
    Fortune”


     


    SOMETIMES SCHIZOPHRENIC, BUT OFTEN FULL OF SURPRISES


     


    42.  Daniel Day-Lewis, “There Will Be
    Blood”


    43.  Roberto Benigni, “Life is
    Beautiful”


    44.  Cliff Robertson, “Charly”


    45.  Fredric March, “The Best Years of
    Our Lives”


    46. Philip Seymour Hoffman, “Capote”


    47. F. Murray Abraham, “Amadeus”


    48. Kevin Spacey, “American
    Beauty”


    49. Adrien Brody, “The Pianist”


    50. Jamie Foxx, “Ray”


    51. Al Pacino, “Scent of a Woman”


     


    SOMETIMES SLOW-MOVING, BUT THE BEST EFFECTS ARE
    WORTH WAITING FOR


     


    52. Colin Firth, “The King’s Speech”


    53. Dustin Hoffman, “Kramer vs. Kramer”


    54. Geoffrey Rush, “Shine”
    55. Sidney Poitier, “Lilies of the Field”


    56. Tom Hanks, “Philadelphia”


    57. Peter Finch, “Network”


    58. Emil Jannings, “The Last Command”


    59. Sean Penn, “Mystic River”


    60. Dustin Hoffman, “Rain Man”


    61. William Holden, “Stalag 17”


     


    STROKES OF ARTISTRY/ PROFESSIONALLY RENDERED
    ACCOUNTS OF THEMSELVES


     


    62. Gary Cooper, “Sergeant York”


    63. Robert Duvall, “Tender Mercies”


    64. Humphrey Bogart, “The African Queen”


    65. Yul Brynner, “The King and I”


    66. Jack Nicholson, “As Good As It Gets”


    67. Lee Marvin, “Cat Ballou”


    68. Forest Whitaker, “The Last King of Scotland”


    69. Bing Crosby, “Going My Way”


     


    UNEASY BLEND OF MOMENT-TO-MOMENT HIGHLIGHTS WITH THE
    FAIRLY HUMDRUM


     


    70. Art Carney, “Harry and Tonto”


    71. Jeff Bridges, “Crazy Heart”


    72. Denzel Washingon, “Training Day”


    73. Jean Dujardin, “The Artist”


    74. William Hurt, “Kiss of the Spider Woman”


    75. Maximilian Schell, “Judgment at Nuremberg”


    76. James Stewart, “The Philadelphia Story”


    77. Paul Newman, “The Color of Money”


    78. Nicolas Cage, “Leaving Las Vegas”


    79. Russell Crowe, “Gladiator”


     


    NOT NECESSARILY BAD, BUT JUST NOMINATION-WORTHY AT
    BEST


     


    80. Michael Douglas, “Wall Street”


    81. Warner Baxter, “In Old Arizona”


    82. Paul Muni, “The Story of Louis Pasteur”


    83. David Niven, “Separate Tables”


    84. Clark Gable, “It Happened One Night”


    85. Wallace Beery, “The Champ”


     


    SHOULDN’T HAVE GOTTEN NEAR THE
    OSCAR


     


    86. Spencer Tracy, “Captains Courageous”


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    awardskel
    Member
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    Nov 6th, 2010
    Topics:
    Posts:
    #108965

    it’s just so over-the-top and hammy.

     

    Couldn’t be more hammy than anything Jack Nicholson has done. I liked Sean Penn’s work in Milk for 2 reasons: 1) he finally set aside that bad boy image and completely changed his appearance and demeanor. Not many people can do that and 2) the film introduced me to Harvey Milk, and I completely enjoyed it. I was THIS close to putting DDL at #1 for There Will Be Blood

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    KT
    Member
    Joined:
    Sep 20th, 2012
    Topics:
    Posts:
    #108966

    Regardless of favorite performances, favorite actors, and favorite films in which they appear, I think the most important win in the history of this category was Marlon Brando in On the Waterfront.  Some recent wins we can’t yet place their importance or where they will fall in the pantheon.  This was not a sentimental win, a make-up win for a previous performance, a surprise or unexpected win.  This came at a career peak for an important film, and marked one of THE signature performances in American cinema, an awakening of the potential of acting in film that Brando chiefly heralded, along with a few other actors in the early 1950s.  I think Brando in On the Waterfront stands out as arguably the most important of this period.  This is a fantastic performance and incredibly significant, the acting choices in this film wonderful.  A highlight scene I love to point to is when Brando picks up Eva Marie Saint’s white glove and tries it on at the playground.

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    Beau S.
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    Feb 10th, 2013
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    Posts:
    #108967

    De Niro, Day-Lewis for TWBB and Brando for Waterfront (in that order) will most likely and deservedly lead everybody’s lists.

    As much as I love Peck in Mockingbird, that Oscar was O’Toole’s imo.

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