For this list, I have compiled my favorite acting performances of all time, whether it be in the supporting or main role. All the actors on this list did amazing jobs with the roles they were given, and used their skills to change the landscape of cinema history.
#10. Ben Kingsley: Ghandi– Playing an influential figure that has the stature of someone like Ghandi is never an easy task in the first place, but doing so while simultaneously carrying the weight of being the driving force for a film makes Kingsley’s performance all the more incredible.
#9. Javier Bardem: No Country for Old Men– Ruthless, cold, insane, and the complete definition of what a badass should be, Javier Bardem stole the spotlight of the film from the supporting role and gave this Coen Bros. western thriller that extra edge it needed to be cemented into the history books.
#8. Gregory Peck: To Kill a Mockingbird– The epitome of what a gentleman should be, Peck commands the screen in his role as Atticus Finch and reminds us what it truly means to do your duty to humanity.
#7. Daniel Day-Lewis: My Left Foot– Daniel Day-Lewis will go down as one of the best actors of all time, and his work in My Left Foot is a testament to his skill as an actor and, somehow, manages to upstage his near perfect performances in Lincoln and Gangs of New York.
#6. Anthony Hopkins: Silence of the Lambs– The master of creepy was the best of many highlights to be taken away from this horror film. Acting with such confidence and creating a never-ending sense of tension and uneasiness, Hopkins steals the show, as Dr. Hannibal Lector, like never before seen in the horror genre.
#5. Heath Ledger: The Dark Knight– The best supporting role performance in all of cinema, with the potential to be even higher on this list in years to come, saw Ledger upstage the legendary Nicholson, redefine what it means to make a character your own, and delivered a flawless piece of acting that will not only be grounded in pop culture but will go on to define a generation.
#4. Jack Nicholson: One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest– Confident, crazy, yet always on point, Nicholson tops off a spectacular career of brilliant films with his portray of a man taking residence in a mental institution, locked in a battle of wits with the head nurse.
#3. Robert De Niro: Raging Bull– De Niro is utterly absorbing and painfully brilliant with his portrayal of Jake LaMotta in quite arguably the finest film to come about from the De Niro Scorsese combination.
#2. Daniel Day-Lewis: There Will Be Blood– While brilliant in My Left Foot, Daniel Day-Lewis becomes the only actor to be entered twice on this list with a once in a lifetime performance as Daniel Plainview, the twisted, greedy oil tycoon. Uncompromising in every way, Day-Lewis plays this character with such vigor and raw emotion; it makes it impossible to turn away from the screen.
Honorable Mentions- Jack Nicholson: The Shining, Daniel-Day Lewis: Lincoln, Henry Fonda: 12 Angry Men, Christoph Waltz: Inglorious Bastards, Anthony Perkins: Psycho, Marlon Brando: The Godfather, Sean Penn: Milk, Tom hanks: Forrest Gump
#1. Marlon Brando: On the Water Front– Brando redefined what it meant to be an actor with his portrayal of Terry Malloy, a performance that will forever be the bar that all actors will strive to achieve. With this performance he became more than just a contender; he become somebody (if you don’t get the reference go and watch the movie and have a better life because of it).
Think I missed one? Let me know what was your favorite acting performance of all time is!