Top 20 Best Actors since 1980

The best actors and actressess from movies only since 1980.
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1.
Denzel Washington
Denzel Hayes Washington, Jr. was born on December 28, 1954 in Mount Vernon, New York. He is the middle of three children of a beautician mother, Lennis, from Georgia, and a Pentecostal minister father, Denzel Washington, Sr., from Virginia. After graduating from high school, Denzel enrolled at Fordham University...
“ With movies like Malcolm X, Glory and Philadelphia, his performances were out of this world. In the last few years, he has made mediocre movies great because of his performance. ” - gazzsmith
 
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 mother's family, originally surnamed "Fraga", was entirely Portuguese, while his father was of mostly English ancestry. Tom grew up in what he has called a "fractured" family...
“ Apollo 13, Philadelphia, Saving Private Ryan are just a few of the brilliant performances from Mr. Hanks. ” - gazzsmith
 
3.
Kevin Costner
Kevin Michael Costner was born on January 18, 1955 in Lynwood, California, the third child of Bill Costner, a ditch digger and ultimately an electric line servicer for Southern California Edison, and Sharon Costner (née Tedrick), a welfare worker. His older brother, Dan, was born in 1950. A middle brother died at birth in 1953...
“ Kevin & Mel Gibson are this high based on body of work. Neither really has the iconic role like Jack Nicholson in Batman or Jamie Foxx in Ray. ” - gazzsmith
 
4.
Mel Gibson
Actor, Braveheart
Mel Columcille Gerard Gibson was born January 3, 1956 in Peekskill, New York, USA, as the sixth of eleven children of Hutton Gibson, a railroad brakeman, and Anne Patricia (Reilly) Gibson (who died in December of 1990). His mother was Irish, from County Longford, while his American-born father is of mostly Irish descent...
“ He has alot of movies in this timeframe to consider: The Patriot, Braveheart, What Women Want, and the Lethal Weapon series. ” - gazzsmith
 
5.
Jodie Foster
Alicia Christian Foster was born in Los Angeles on November 19, 1962. She is the daughter of Evelyn Ella "Brandy" (Almond) and Lucius Fisher Foster III, an Air Force lieutenant colonel and later real estate broker. Brandy had filed for divorce in 1959 after having three children with Lucius, but the exes had a brief re-encounter in 1962 which resulted in Alicia's birth...
“ Silence of the Lambs, Nell, and The Accused were out of this world performances, plus I liked her in Contact and Anna and the King. ” - gazzsmith
 
6.
Samuel L. Jackson
Samuel L. Jackson is an American producer and highly prolific actor, having appeared in over 100 films, including Die Hard with a Vengeance, Unbreakable, Shaft, Formula 51, Black Snake Moan, Snakes on a Plane, and the Star Wars prequel trilogy (1999-2005), as well as the Marvel Cinematic Universe...
“ Another body of work actor who has got to be the hardest working man in the business. I counted 100 movies from 1987 to 2011. Wow. Pulp Fiction really put him on the map. ” - gazzsmith
 
7.
Jack Nicholson
Jack Nicholson, an American actor, producer, director and screenwriter, is a three-time Academy Award winner and twelve-time nominee. Nicholson is also notable for being one of two actors - the other being Michael Caine - who have received Oscar nomination in every decade from the 1960s through the early 2000s...
“ The Joker and his role in a Few Good Men warrant a top 10 selection. ” - gazzsmith
 
8.
Al Pacino
One of the greatest actors in all of film history, Al Pacino established himself during one of film's greatest decades, the 1970s, and has become an enduring and iconic figure in the world of American movies. Alfredo James Pacino was born on April 25, 1940, in the Bronx, New York, to an Italian-American family...
“ Tony "freakin" Montana, nuff said! ” - gazzsmith
 
9.
Tom Cruise
Actor, Top Gun
In 1976, if you had told fourteen year-old Franciscan seminary student Thomas Cruise Mapother IV that one day in the not too distant future he would be Tom Cruise, one of the top 100 movie stars of all time, he would have probably grinned and told you that his ambition was to join the priesthood. Nonetheless...
“ Probably a suprise for most people. This guy is very underated. I'm not sure if ever has been nominated for an Oscar, much less won one. If we look past the pretty face, we find some great performances in Top Gun, Interview with the Vampire, Jerry Maguire and Rain. Also take a look at him in Magnolia. ” - gazzsmith
 
10.
Meryl Streep
Considered by many critics to be the greatest living actress, Meryl Streep has been nominated for the Academy Award an astonishing 20 times, and has won it three times. Meryl was born Mary Louise Streep in 1949 in Summit, New Jersey, to Mary Wolf (Wilkinson), a commercial artist, and Harry William Streep...
“ She certainly is not my favorite actress, but that's not the category. Anyone who gets nominated 16 times for an Academy Award has to make the top 10. ” - gazzsmith
 
11.
Michael Douglas
Actor, The Game
An actor with over forty years of experience in theatre, film, and television, Michael Douglas branched out into independent feature production in 1975 with the Academy Award-winning One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. Since then, as a producer and as an actor-producer, he has shown an uncanny knack for choosing projects that reflect changing trends and public concerns...
“ Well, The American President is one of my favorite movies, so he gets high marks for that. Plus, Wall Street, War of the Roses, Basic Instinct, Fatal Attraction, etc. He certainly has had a long distinguised career. ” - gazzsmith
 
12.
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...
“ If this list was since 1990, he would probably be #1. Gladiator was simply fantastic! ” - gazzsmith
 
13.
Robert De Niro
Actor, Goodfellas
One of the greatest actors of all time, Robert De Niro was born on August 17, 1943 in Manhattan, New York City, to artists Virginia (Admiral) and Robert De Niro Sr. His paternal grandfather was of Italian descent, and his other ancestry is English, Dutch, German, French and Irish. He was trained at the Stella Adler Conservatory and the American Workshop...
“ 3 Best Actor Nominations (one win) since 1981--pretty impressive. He obviously has had a lot of roles, but his performance in Cape Fear is the most memorable in this time frame. ” - gazzsmith
 
14.
Dustin Hoffman
Dustin Lee Hoffman was born in Los Angeles, California, to Lillian (Gold) and Harry Hoffman, who was a furniture salesman and prop supervisor for Columbia Pictures. He was raised in a Jewish family (from Ukraine, Russia-Poland, and Romania). Hoffman graduated from Los Angeles High School in 1955, and went to Santa Monica City College...
“ If the timeframe started since 1970, he would be much higher. In truth, I have not seen his most recent movies, so this is based on roles such as Tootsie, Rain Man and Hook. ” - gazzsmith
 
15.
Morgan Freeman
With an authoritative voice and calm demeanor, this ever popular American actor has grown into one of the most respected figures in modern US cinema. Morgan was born on June 1, 1937 in Memphis, Tennessee, to Mayme Edna (Revere), a teacher, and Morgan Porterfield Freeman, a barber. The young Freeman...
“ Another body of work, but he was also incredible as Principal Joe Clark which took him notch above... ” - gazzsmith
 
16.
Sean Connery
Actor, Dr. No
Sean Connery is best known for portraying the character James Bond, starring in seven Bond films between 1962 and 1983. In 1988, Connery won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his role in The Untouchables. His film career also includes such films as Marnie, The Name of the Rose, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen...
“ I wasn't blown away with his work since 1980, but anything he does, he's usually great and stands out in the film. ” - gazzsmith
 
17.
Robin Williams
Robin McLaurin Williams was born on Saturday, July 21st, 1951, in Chicago, Illinois, a great-great-grandson of Mississippi Governor and Senator, Anselm J. McLaurin. His mother, Laurie McLaurin (née Janin), was a former model from Mississippi, and his father, Robert Fitzgerald Williams, was a Ford Motor Company executive from Indiana...
“ Probably another surprise, because he's considered a comedic actor. Howver, look at how many movies he's done since 1980. He's probably right behind Sam Jackson. ...and his characters are so diverse. Check him out in Whay Dreams May Come. So don't "laugh" at this choice. ” - gazzsmith
 
18.
Julia Roberts
Actress, Notting Hill
Julia Fiona Roberts never dreamed she would become the most popular actress in America. She was born in Smyrna, Georgia, to Betty Lou (Bredemus) and Walter Grady Roberts, one-time actors and playwrights, and is of English, Irish, Scottish, Welsh, German, and Swedish descent. As a child, due to her love of animals...
“ I really didn't want to add her, but when you look at her work, she is deserving. I think Erin Brockovich put her over the top. ” - gazzsmith
 
19.
Liam Neeson
Liam Neeson was born on June 7, 1952 in Ballymena, Northern Ireland, UK, to Katherine (Brown), a cook, and Bernard Neeson, a school caretaker. Liam worked as a forklift operator for Guinness, truck driver, assistant architect and an amateur boxer. He had originally sought a career as a teacher by attending St...
“ Obviously Schindler's List was his signature performance. When he plays a role, it seems like he looms large as a character. I mean like Sean Connery and Denzel, you can't ignore his presence. ” - gazzsmith
 
20.
Anthony Hopkins
Actor, Hannibal
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...
“ Silence of the Lambs, Nixon, Instinct, etc.--the list goes on and on. ” - gazzsmith