The 20 best male lead performances of the last 20 years

My favorite male performances from the last 20 years, in no particular order. With some actors I couldn't choose one because they are just so brilliant in several movies.
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1.
Anthony Hopkins
Anthony Hopkins was born on December 31, 1937, in Margam, Wales, to Muriel Anne (Yeats) and Richard Arthur Hopkins, a baker. His parents were both of half Welsh and half English descent. Influenced by Richard Burton, he decided to study at College of Music and Drama and graduated in 1957. In 1965, he moved to London and joined the National Theatre...
“ For his performances in "The Silence of the Lambs" and "The Remains of the Day". ” - adambiwall
 
2.
Tom Hanks
Thomas Jeffrey Hanks was born in Concord, California, to Janet Marylyn (Frager), a hospital worker, and Amos Mefford Hanks, an itinerant cook. His father had English, and some German, ancestry, while his mother's family, originally surnamed "Fraga", was entirely Portuguese. Tom grew up in what he has called a "fractured" family...
“ For his performances in "Forrest Gump" and "Saving Private Ryan". ” - adambiwall
 
3.
Jack Nicholson
With 12 Academy Award nominations (eight for Best Actor and four for Best Supporting Actor), Nicholson is the most nominated male actor in Academy Awards history. Only Nicholson (1960s-2000s), Michael Caine (1960s-2000s), Paul Newman (1950s-1960s, 1980s-2000s), and Laurence Olivier (1930s-1970s) have been nominated for an acting (lead or supporting) Academy Award in five decades...
“ For his performances in "As Good As It Gets" and "About Schmidt". ” - adambiwall
 
4.
“ For his performance in "Life is Beautiful". ” - adambiwall
 
5.
Kevin Spacey
As enigmatic as he is talented, Kevin Spacey has always kept the details of his private life closely guarded. As he explained in a 1998 interview with the London Evening Standard, "the less you know about me, the easier it is to convince you that I am that character on screen. It allows an audience to come into a movie theatre and believe I am that person"...
“ For his performance in "American Beauty". ” - adambiwall
 
6.
Adrien Brody
Adrien Nicholas Brody was born in Woodhaven, Queens, New York, the only child of retired history professor Elliot Brody and Hungarian-born photographer Sylvia Plachy. He accompanied his mother on assignments for the Village Voice, and credits her with making him feel comfortable in front of the camera...
“ For his performance in "The Pianist". ” - adambiwall
 
7.
Bill Murray
Bill Murray is an American actor, comedian, and writer. The fifth of nine children, he was born William James Murray in Wilmette, Illinois, to Lucille (Collins), a mailroom clerk, and Edward Joseph Murray II, who sold lumber. He is of Irish descent. Among his siblings are actors Brian Doyle-Murray, Joel Murray...
“ For his performance in "Lost in Translation". ” - adambiwall
 
8.
Leonardo DiCaprio
Actor, Inception
Few actors in the world have had a career quite as diverse as Leonardo DiCaprio's. DiCaprio has gone from relatively humble beginnings, as a supporting cast member of the sitcom Growing Pains and low budget horror movies, such as Critters 3, to a major teenage heartthrob in the 1990s, as the hunky lead actor in movies such as Romeo + Juliet and Titanic...
“ For his performances in "The Aviator", "The Departed", "Revolutionary Road" and "Titanic". ” - adambiwall
 
9.
Johnny Depp
Johnny Depp is perhaps one of the most versatile actors of his day and age in Hollywood. He was born John Christopher Depp II in Owensboro, Kentucky, on June 9, 1963, to Betty Sue (Wells), who worked as a waitress, and John Christopher Depp, a civil engineer. Depp was raised in Florida. He dropped out of school when he was 15...
“ For his performances in "Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pear", "Finding Neverland", "Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street", "Edward Scissorhands", "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" and "Ed Wood". ” - adambiwall
 
10.
Daniel Day-Lewis
Born in London, England, Daniel Michael Blake Day-Lewis is the second child of Cecil Day-Lewis (A.K.A. Nicholas Blake) (Poet Laureate of England) and his second wife, Jill Balcon. His maternal grandfather was Sir Michael Balcon, an important figure in the history of British cinema and head of the famous Ealing Studios...
“ For his performances in "There Will Be Blood" and "Nine". ” - adambiwall
 
11.
Sean Penn
Sean Penn is a powerhouse film performer capable of intensely moving work, who has gone from strength to strength during a colourful film career, and who has drawn much media attention for his stormy private life and political viewpoints. Sean Justin Penn was born in Los Angeles, California, the second son of actress Eileen Ryan (née Annucci) and director...
“ For his performances in "21 Grams", "Mystic River" and "Milk". ” - adambiwall
 
12.
Philip Seymour Hoffman
Actor, Capote
Film and stage actor and theater director Philip Seymour Hoffman was born in the Rochester, New York, suburb of Fairport on July 23, 1967. He was the son of Marilyn (Loucks), a lawyer and judge, and Gordon Stowell Hoffman, a Xerox employee, and was mostly of German, Irish, English and Dutch ancestry...
“ For his performance in "Capote". ” - adambiwall
 
13.
Joaquin Phoenix
Actor, Gladiator
Joaquin Phoenix is an American actor, producer, music video director, musician and activist. He started his career by appearing in episodes of television shows with his brother River Phoenix and sister Summer Phoenix. His first major film release was in the comedy-drama film Parenthood (1989). During his period as a child actor he was credited as Leaf Phoenix...
“ For his performance in "Walk the Line". ” - adambiwall
 
14.
Heath Ledger
Heath Ledger work comprised nineteen films, including 10 Things I Hate About You (1999), The Patriot (2000), A Knight's Tale (2001), Monster's Ball (2001), Ned Kelly (2003), The Brothers Grimm (2005), Lords of Dogtown (2005), Brokeback Mountain (2005), Casanova (2005), Candy (2006), I'm Not There (2007)...
“ For his performance in "Brokeback Mountain". ” - adambiwall
 
15.
Frank Langella
Frank Langella was born in Bayonne, New Jersey, to Angelina and Frank A. Langella, a business executive. He is of Italian descent. A stage and screen actor of extreme versatility, Frank Langella won acclaim on the New York stage in "Seascape" and followed it up with the title role in the Edward Gorey production of "Dracula"...
“ For his performance in "Frost/Nixon". ” - adambiwall
 
16.
Mickey Rourke
Mickey Rourke was born Phillip Andre Rourke, Jr. on September 16, 1952, in Schenectady, New York, the son of Annette (Cameron) and Phillip Andre Rourke. His father was of Irish and German descent, and his mother was of French-Canadian, English, and German ancestry. When he was six years old, his parents divorced...
“ For his performance in "The Wrestler". ” - adambiwall
 
17.
Colin Firth
Colin Andrew Firth was born into an academic family in Grayshott, Hampshire, England. His mother, Shirley Jean (Rolles), was a comparative religion lecturer at the Open University, and his father, David Norman Lewis Firth, lectured on history at Winchester University College (formerly King Alfred's College) in Winchester...
“ For his performance in "A Single Man". ” - adambiwall
 
18.
George Clooney
Actor, Gravity
George Timothy Clooney was born on May 6, 1961, in Lexington, Kentucky, to Nina Bruce (née Warren), a former beauty pageant queen, and Nick Clooney, a former anchorman and game show host (who was also the brother of singer Rosemary Clooney). He has Irish, English, and German ancestry. Clooney spent most of this youth in Ohio and Kentucky...
“ For his performances in "Michael Clayton" and "Up in the Air". ” - adambiwall
 
19.
Russell Crowe
Actor, Gladiator
Russell Ira Crowe was born in Wellington, New Zealand, to Jocelyn Yvonne (Wemyss) and John Alexander Crowe, both of whom catered movie sets. His maternal grandfather, Stanley Wemyss, was a cinematographer. Crowe's recent ancestry includes Welsh (where his paternal grandfather was born, in Wrexham), English...
“ For his performances in "Gladiator" and "A Beautiful Mind". ” - adambiwall
 
20.
Matt Damon
Matthew Paige Damon was born on October 8, 1970, in Boston, Massachusetts, to Kent Damon, a stockbroker, realtor and tax preparer, and Nancy Carlsson-Paige, an early childhood education professor at Lesley University. Matt has an older brother named Kyle who is now a sculptor. His father is of English and Scottish descent...
“ For his performances in "Good Will Hunting" and "The Talented Mr. Ripley". ” - adambiwall