Top Ten Actors of All Time

This list is based on the actors' ability to perform in their roles, not based on their box office success or stardom. I take into account role versatility, critical acclaim, award recognition and of course my very own opinion. I am not new to movies and appreciate the talents of many actors in all different genres however if they are not on this list I do not consider their talents worthy of a top ten list. At the end I include three honourable mentions who just missed the list as well as a few up and comers I expect are likely to have an incredible career.
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Daniel Day-Lewis
Day-Lewis is one of the most acclaimed actors of his generation and has earned numerous awards, including three Academy Awards for Best Actor for his performances in My Left Foot (1989), There Will Be Blood (2007) and Lincoln (2012), making him the only male actor in history to have three wins in the lead actor category and one of only three male actors to win three Oscars...
“ No other actor becomes their role quite like Daniel. His talents are so great that most people are incapable of recognizing him in his films and is ultimately the most talented actor. ” - jayman_87
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...
“ Consistently delivers Oscar calibre performances and is my choice for number 2 behind Daniel. ” - jayman_87
Paul Newman
Paul Newman won numerous awards, including an Academy Award for his performance in the 1986 film The Color of Money, a BAFTA Award, a Screen Actors Guild Award, a Cannes Film Festival Award, an Emmy Award, and many honorary awards. Despite being colorblind, he won several national championships as a driver in Sports Car Club of America road racing...
“ Not much needs to be said, it's Paul Newman. A life time of stellar performances and a list of great movies too long to include. ” - jayman_87
Leonardo DiCaprio
Actor, Inception
Since the 2000s, DiCaprio has received critical acclaim for his work in a wide range of film genres. His subsequent films include The Man in the Iron Mask (1998), the biographical crime drama Catch Me If You Can (2002) and the epic historical drama Gangs of New York (2002) which also marked his first of many collaborations with director Martin Scorsese...
“ I believe Leonardo DiCaprio is the best actor of his generation and will likely prove to be higher on this list by the end of his career. Another actor who delivers Oscar calibre performances in every film. ” - jayman_87
Robert De Niro
Actor, Goodfellas
De Niro's longtime collaboration with Scorsese later earned him an Academy Award for Best Actor for his portrayal of Jake LaMotta in the 1980 film Raging Bull. He also earned nominations for the psychological thrillers Taxi Driver (1976) and Cape Fear (1991), both directed by Scorsese. De Niro received...
“ Once considered by many to be the best actor of all time, he has had a few films that have been subpar over the last decade and comes in at number 5 on my list. ” - jayman_87
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...
“ Sean Penn can play any role whether it be tough mob boss or gay rights activist. This two time Oscar winner is my pick for number 6. ” - jayman_87
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 (Lowe), from Georgia, and a Pentecostal minister father, Denzel Washington, Sr., from Virginia. After graduating from high school, Denzel enrolled at Fordham University...
“ Although I wish he could continue to change his roles up a bit more often and deliver more performances that are "out of his norm," Denzel Washington is among the best when it comes to playing any role. ” - jayman_87
Marlon Brando
Marlon Brando is widely considered the greatest movie actor of all time, rivaled only by the more theatrically oriented Laurence Olivier in terms of esteem. Unlike Olivier, who preferred the stage to the screen, Brando concentrated his talents on movies after bidding the Broadway stage adieu in 1949...
“ It is hard to deny that Marlon Brando belongs in any top ten list. With a career full of films worthy of critical praise, Marlon regularly stole the show and was regarded as one of the greats of his time. ” - jayman_87
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. Pacino was born on April 25, 1940, in the Bronx, New York, to an Italian-American family. His parents...
“ Once one of my favorite actors, Al Pacino has had a less than stellar past decade. Despite this, with performances such as Michael Corleone, Tony Montana and Lieutenant Colonel Frank Slade (to name a few) in his past, he must be included in the top 10. ” - jayman_87
Peter O'Toole
A leading man of prodigious talents, Peter O'Toole was raised in Leeds, England, the son of Constance Jane Eliot (Ferguson), a Scottish nurse, and Patrick Joseph O'Toole, an Irish bookie. As a boy, he decided to become a journalist, beginning as a newspaper copy boy. Although he succeeded in becoming a reporter...
“ An eight time Oscar nominee who was a legend within the film industry. Another must have on any top ten who is regularly forgotten. ” - jayman_87
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...
“ Honourable Mention: just missed the top ten but a superb actor. ” - jayman_87
Gregory Peck
Eldred Gregory Peck was born in La Jolla, California, to Bernice Mary (Ayres) and Gregory Pearl Peck, a chemist and druggist in San Diego. He had Irish (from his paternal grandmother), English, and some German, ancestry. His parents divorced when he was five years old. An only child, he was sent to live with his grandmother...
“ Honourable Mention: another super actor who just missed the top ten. I tried hard to find a way to fit him in however he just missed the cut. ” - jayman_87
Jeremy Irons
Elegant and handsome British actor Jeremy Irons was born in Cowes, Isle of Wight, a small island just off the south coast of England. He is the son of Barbara Anne Brereton (Sharpe) and Paul Dugan Irons, an accountant. Young Jeremy didn't prove very fond of figures. A typical islander, he used to go to mainland England only once a year...
“ Honourable Mention: a favourite of mine who is regularly forgotten and underrated. Missed my list but deserves a mention. ” - jayman_87
Michael Fassbender
Michael Fassbender was born in Heidelberg, Germany, to a German father, Josef, and an Irish mother, Adele (originally from Larne, County Antrim, in Northern Ireland). Michael was raised in the town of Killarney, Co. Kerry, in south-west Ireland, where his family moved to when he was two years old. His parents ran a restaurant (his father is a chef)...
“ Up and Comer: although he is only recently breaking into Hollywood, I have very quickly taken a liking to him. If he keeps up the fantastic work he may one day join the greats! ” - jayman_87
Ryan Gosling
Actor, Drive
Ryan Thomas Gosling was born on November 12, 1980, in London, Ontario, Canada. He is the son of Donna (Wilson), a secretary, and Thomas Ray Gosling, a traveling salesman. Ryan was the second of their two children. His ancestry is French-Canadian, as well as English, Scottish, and German. The Gosling family moved to Cornwall...
“ Up and Comer: Ryan has been around for a while but only recently has he begun to garner critical acclaim. I expect as he continues to take on more risky roles we will see him develop into one of the best actors of his generation. ” - jayman_87
Javier Bardem
Javier Bardem is the youngest member of a family of actors that has been making films since the early days of Spanish cinema. He was born in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Spain, to actress Pilar Bardem (María del Pilar Bardem Muñoz) and businessman José Carlos Encinas Doussinague. His maternal grandparents were actors Rafael Bardem and Matilde Muñoz Sampedro...
“ Up and Comer: although I realize he has been in a long list of movies, he is relatively new to the Hollywood scene and how I wish I was able to see more of his movies. Bardem is one of the best actors I have seen and I expect he will have a great career in North American film. ” - jayman_87
Joaquin Phoenix
Actor, Gladiator
Joaquin Phoenix was born in San Juan, Puerto Rico, to Arlyn (Dunetz) and John Bottom, and is the middle child in a brood of five. His parents, from the continental United States, were then serving as Children of God missionaries. His mother is from a Jewish family in New York, while his father, from California...
“ Up and Comer: another more controversial choice for up and comer as he has been a known name for about 15 years. Despite this, I believe he is only getting started in displaying his on screen talents and should continue to garner an increasingly strong argument for making the top 10 by the end of his career. I predict another couple Oscar nominations and a win by the time he is finished. ” - jayman_87