Top Ten (currently working) Actors

Thanks to Heather over at Movie Mobsters has devised a list of who she thinks are the top ten currently working actors. After a day of debate on her blog, I thought I’d create my ultimate list so I could have controversy over on my blog. Enjoy dear readers.

10. Willem Dafoe

Career Highlights: The Last Temptation of Christ, Shadow of a Vampire, Platoon, Born of the 4th of July, Spider-Man, eXistenZ, Affliction, Auto-Focus, Once Upon a Time in Mexico, The Clearing, The English Patient, Clear and Present Danger, Wild at Heart, Daybreakers, American Psycho, Antichrist, Off Limits, Mississippi Burning, The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, Finding Nemo

Willem Dafoe is a champion of his craft. He’s never been afraid to take on challenging roles that other actors wouldn’t dare to touch. Dafoe has made a career of showing his in-depth range and sheer talent as a performer. He’s remarkable in almost everything he’s shown us. I will see anything that has Willem Dafoe in it.

9. George Clooney

Career Highlights: “ER”, Burn After Reading, Up in the Air, Good Night Good Luck, Solaris, Syriana, Confessions of a Dangerous Mind, Fail Safe, The Thin Red Line, Out of Sight, O Brother, Where Art Thou?, From Dusk Till Dawn

George Clooney has completely transformed himself from a TV actor, to a superstar heartthrob to a Warren Beatty-esq Hollywood tycoon. His performances have become deep and extremely complex and he is the embodiment of a silver screen icon much like Rock Hudson, Cary Grant and Gary Cooper. His charisma and sex appeal often has me questioning my sexuality. George Clooney is a fucking man.

8. Harvey Keitel

Career Highlights: Bad Lieutenant, Mean Streets, Dangerous Game, Taxi Driver, The Last Temptation of Christ, Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore, Fingers, Bugsy, Reservoir Dogs, Pulp Fiction, The Piano, Smoke, Clockers, From Dusk Till Dawn, Cop Land, Shadrach, Taking Sides, Fail Safe

To me, Keitel is the cinematic basass that is reminiscent of Lee Marvin, Robert Mitchum and William Holden. He takes roles that no other actor would ever, ever, ever think of taking (aside from maybe Dafoe and Cage). He’s an absolute dynamo when it comes to his performances in Bad Lieutenant, Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore, and Dangerous Game. I would not want to fuck with Harvey Keitel.

7. Robert DeNiro

Career Highlights: Mean Streets, Raging Bull, Taxi Driver, Goodfellas, Casino, Cape Fear, Jackie Brown, Once Upon a Time in America, Wag the Dog, The Good Shepherd, Heat, The Godfather Part II, A Bronx Tale, Midnight Run, The Mission, Ronin, This Boy’s Life, Frankenstein, Backdraft, Guilt By Suspicion, Awakenings, Jacknife, The King of Comedy, True Confessions, Falling in Love, The Untouchables, The Deer Hunter

We all know that Robert DeNiro is an amazing actor. His range as an actor is magnificent. He would have made it a lot higher on my list if he hadn’t been working for paychecks the past fifteen years. Yikes…

6. Christian Bale

Career Highlights: American Psycho, Batman Begins, The Dark Knight, The Prestige, Public Enemies, The Machinist, I’m Not There, The New World, Rescue Dawn

Christian Bale is the best young method actor out there. He invests himself so deeply into his roles it reminds me of Daniel Day-Lewis. Most people will often think of Batman when they think of Bale – I on the other hand will always think of Patrick Bateman.

5. Al Pacino

Career Highlights: The Godfather, The Godfather Pt II, Dog Day Afternoon, Serpico, Scarface, Insomnia, Any Given Sunday, Heat, The Insider, Looking for Richard, Glengarry Glen Ross, Dick Tracy, Carlito’s Way, …And Justice for All, Scarecrow, Panic in Needle Park, “Angels in America”, “You Don’t Know Jack”

To me Pacino almost, just almost falls under the DeNiro category since he has pretty much worked for a paycheck the past decade and a half but what saves him is Insomnia and his amazing performance in the Barry Levinson directed HBO film “You Don’t Know Jack”. Pacino is a lion of cinema and remains to be one of the greatest actors in cinema history. The incredible range he shows as Michael in Godfather and then the Michael in Godfather Part II is just incredible.

4. William Hurt

Career Highlights: Body Heat, Gorky Park, Altered States, The Big Chill, The Accidental Tourist, Into the Wild, The Good Shepherd, Syriana, The Village, Rare Birds, Master Spy, Smoke, Dark City, One True Thing, Children of a Lesser God, A History of Violence, Kiss of the Spider Woman, Broadcast News, The Incredible Hulk, “Damages”, “Nightmares and Dreamscapes: From the Stories of Stephen King – segment Battleground”

William Hurt is a pompous actor. He thinks he’s awesome, and well, he is. He remains to be one of my favorite actors, and the roles he’s selected have always touched me. His characters have pulled on my heart strings and have brought deep emotions out of me. I love William Hurt.

3. Jeff Bridges

Career Highlights: The Big Lebowski, Crazy Heart, The Contender, Thunderbolt and Lightfoot, The Last Picture Show, The Fisher King, The Mirror Has Two Faces, Tucker: The Man and His Dream, Jagged Edge, Iron Man, Starman, Fearless, The Muse, The Door in the Floor, TRON, Heaven’s Gate, Seabiscuit, Masked and Anonymous

Jeff Bridges remains to be the biggest influence of my life – even more so than Roger Waters (which I NEVER thought I’d say). His philosophies and his art have really transformed me into someone new. I used to be somebody/Now I am somebody else. With his performances he brings emotions out of me that I never knew I had.

Thank you Mr. Bridges.

2. Peter O’Toole

Career Highlights: Lawrence of Arabia, The Ruling Class, Venus, Bright Young Things, My Favorite Year, The Last Emperor, The Stunt Man, Caligula, Man of La Mancha, Goodbye Mr. Chips, The Lion in Winter, The Night of the Generals, Lord Jim, Becket

How the fuck Peter O’Toole never won an Oscar is far beyond me. This man is an icon and a master at his craft. Sure he’s made bucket loads of shit – but he was fucking Lawrence of Arabia! He was King Henry II! He was Don Quixote! This man is a legend – better yet – a world treasure.

On asked why he didn’t win an Oscar for Lawrence of Arabia: “Because somebody else did.”

1. Daniel Day-Lewis

Career Highlights: Gangs of New York, My Left Foot, The Boxer, In the Name of the Father, Nine, The Ballad of Jack and Rose, The Last of the Mohicans, The Crucible, There Will Be Blood, The Unbearable Lightness of Being, A Room with a View, The Age of Innocence, My Beautiful Laundrette

I have never seen in my life a performer whose total work is so amazing. Whenever I see him in a film, I don’t see Daniel Day-Lewis, I see his character. I’ve seen actors do that before, but not with ever single role they play. Greatest actor ever. Hands down.

Honorable Mentions: Michael Caine, Tom Cruise, Kevin Spacey, Brad Pitt, Jack Nicholson, Christopher Plummer, Robert Downey, Jr., Javier Bardem, Tommy Lee Jones, Sean Penn

Note – I know I’m going to catch shit from all of you, but I don’t think Russell Crowe is that great of an actor. He plays the same character with the exception of The Insider which I think is a remarkable performance.


Author: Frank Mengarelli

Everybody relax, Frank's here. After going to film school at Columbia College Chicago, Frank decided to underachieve with his vast knowledge of film into a career in civil service. Frank had a brief stint as a film blogger, and then he met the heterosexual love of his life, Nick Clement. The two instantly bonded over their love from everything to Terence Malick to THE EXPENDABLES films. Some of Frank's favorite filmmakers are Terence Malick, Martin Scorsese, Quentin Tarantino, Sylvester Stallone, Oliver Stone and Spike Lee. Some of his favorite films are THE TREE OF LIFE, STAR WARS (all of them), BAD LIEUTENANT, THE THING and ALL THAT JAZZ. Frank spends his free time with his dog Roger, collecting any Star Wars collectible he can find and trying to finish his pretentious, first person narrative novel(la), LARGE MEN IN SMALL CARS..

27 thoughts on “Top Ten (currently working) Actors”

      1. You might have to go gay for Bateman..he’s not exactly the type to fret about consent.

        I would go not-asexual for Batman, because he’s Batman, and I might need to pull a favor later.

  1. Well, I guess I expected for DDL to be on here. 😉

    Pacino is one of favs but his body of work in the last few years hasn’t been great from my point of view. He’s so talented and I feel like he opts for roles that typecast himself, and he is so much more than that. DeNiro on the other hand is still blowing me away. I’d replace Pacino possibly Jack Nicholson.

    Christian Bale and Dafoe would with certainty be on my list today. And I have love for Clooney, but he’s a Brad Pitt kind of actor, and either could easily be swapped for one another.

    Nice nods to William Hurt and Jeff Bridges. I might think of putting Chris Cooper in there as well.

    Peter O’Toole was a shocker. You caught me off guard there!

    Now I want to make another list, but I think I’ll wait till July and do a yearly thing. I’m betting half of mine from last year will still be on it. 🙂

    1. What threw it in Pacino’s favor was Insomnia and You Don’t Know Jack. DeNiro hasn’t been good since Jackie Brown. I’m still hoping his slew of slated “in development” will bring him back to the top.

      Everyone forgets about Peter O’Toole! He was so heartwarming in Venus. 🙂

  2. I’m not going to leave a long comment right now. I’m far too busy. I just want you to know that I searched your list three times because I couldn’t believe there was no mention of Dustin Hoffman. He would be #1 on my list.

    1. I like Hoffman a lot, but there are only a select few performances of his I consider great. And he falls along the lines of DeNiro and Pacino in making crap for about 15 years. I think his last great performance was Wag the Dog.

      1. I disagree. Even when he isn’t in a “great” movie, he still turns in a great performance, as evidenced in “Runaway Jury” and “Sleepers” (both pretty decent movies by the way). That’s more than I can say for DeNiro or Pacino over the past 15 years.

        And I hold my my stance on Crowe. You know I don’t give a fuck about Oscars, but the man was nominated for “Best Actor” three years in a row. He had a string of being in 5 “Best Picture” nominees (2 winners) in a 7 year span. I’m not sure how many guys have done that, but it’s nothing to sneeze at. He’s the fucking man.

        Lastly, I thought you said you haven’t seen “Rescue Dawn?”

      2. Picked up Rescue Dawn for five dolla and William Hurt was nominated three years in a row; Kiss of the Spider Woman (which he won – an incredibly low budget film with a performance that rivals DDL) then for Children of a Lesser God and lastly Broadcast News. And was in four Best Picture nominees in a five year span.

        I don’t think Crowe should have won anything except for his performance in The Insider. I don’t think I’ll see Robin Hood for a little bit, but to me it just looks like Gladiator part 2.

        As for Hoffman, I don’t deny he’s a great actor but he hasn’t impressed me with anything in a long time. He is the best part of Sleepers – what a horrible movie that is. It is impressive he has two Best Actor Oscars, but should really only have one – anyone who’s seen All That Jazz and Being There knows that Hoffman shouldn’t have won.

        There is nothing “great” about Runaway Jury. It took me till about halfway through the movie to realize that Hoffman had a southern accent.

  3. Sam Rockwell dude. Even in horrible crap, he manages to rise above it (see: Gentlemen Broncos. Actually, don’t. Ever.), and he’d be number one on my list. I’d also include Jim Carrey, but I have the power of selective memory and tend to forget The Number 21 ever happened.

  4. Glad that you put Daniel Day first, he doesn’t act in a lot of stuff so he doesn’t get the credit like others, but when he does, he totally steals the show. Great List! Also, glad you included Dafoe, totally underrated.

  5. The only reason it should even be allowed for you to exclude Jack, is the fact that he hasn’t done much as of late. Regardless, he should still be in that list. And you know that. As for Crowe, you still need to watch A Beautiful Mind.

  6. Great list and I can’t argue with your number 1 but my favourite actor of all time doesn’t get a look in – was there no room for Dustin Hoffman?

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