My Favorite Things – My Favorite Actors

Yesterday I turned 23 in the middle of making this and a few other of the My Favorite Things lists (more or less me moving them from the original blogspot), so let’s see how far we’ve come and how much I’ve changed!!!

Well, we all have those actors which we find so fascinating we have to see their work, watch their versatility and their style. Their emotions, their work, there’s always good reason to find a celebration of their accomplishments in cinema, when you are outright celebrating cinema.

After all, it’s hard to find a better window to the soul of a film than through the eyes of the lead actor, who carries the weight of the tale’s expression and elicitation of the audience’s reaction on his shoulder more so than any other person in the film set, save for probably the director. If one can’t find the best actor to communicate the story, then it falls flat as far the wider movie-going public considers.

Indeed, it is largely thank to the graces of a great actor that a movie can capture the audience’s own graces and reach a classic status.

For this reason, at least on my own terms, I find it a lot more easier to like the more modern actors, the ones who seem well-connected to the times I live through in the 90s, 00s and now the 10s. Still every once in a while, there comes an actor so timeless in his/her performance, so raw in his energy that he or she earns a legacy largely unparalleled that’ll never be reached again.

This is a celebration of both kinds of actors….

(in very rough order)

Robert De Niro
Master of the character study.
Favorite Performance: Travis Bickle – Taxi Driver (1976, dir. Martin Scorsese)

Humphrey Bogart
The guy I wanna wake up in the morning and see in the mirror.
Favorite Performance: Rick Blaine – Casablanca (1942, dir. Michael Curtiz)

Tony Leung
Probably one of the first cases of me fanning over an actor with a friend mutually.
Favorite Performance: Chow Mo-wan – In the Mood for Love (2000, dir. Wong Kar-wai)

Phillip Seymour Hoffman
When people try to praise a lot of actors for their versatility, I always get bugged that Hoffman doesn’t get that credit.
Favorite Performance: Lancaster Dodd – The Master (2012, dir. Paul Thomas Anderson)

Al Pacino
Well duh. Though strictly before Scent of a Woman. Because well duh.
Favorite Performance: Michael Corleone – The Godfather/The Godfather Part II (1972-74, dir. Francis Ford Coppola)

Mifune Toshiro
Again, a well duh moment. Kurosawa channeled much of his energy in the design of his pictures, leaving the very intense Mifune to rip the audience by their sleeves into the worlds.
Favorite Performance: Sanjuro Kuwabatake – Yojimbo (1961, dir. Kurosawa Akira)

Boris Karloff
The face of terror.
Favorite Performance: The Monster – Frankenstein (1931, dir. James Whale)

Claude Rains
The worst supporting actor because he almost always steals the show from the lead.
Favorite Performance: Capt. Louis Renault – Casablanca (1942, dir. Michael Curtiz)

Joseph Gordon-Levitt

At the time that he was my favorite actor (late in high school), I thought him versatile and always fearlessly trying something new – not just for acting but film. Well, now I know better about versatile, but no fucking doubt about the fearlessness still.
Favorite Performance: Brendan Frye – Brick (2005, dir. Rian Johnson) (Or maybe once I ease up on whiplash disappointment with Hesher, I’ll find that performance my favorite again)

John Wayne
Every democracy needs a Duke.
Favorite Performance: Ethan Edwards – The Searchers (1956, dir. John Ford)

Idris Elba
Charisma is second nature to this guy.
Favorite Performance: Stringer Bell – The Wire (2002-2004, crea. David Simon)

Orson Welles
He doesn’t even need to act, he could just talk and reading his words is entertaining.
Favorite Performance: Harry Lime – The Third Man (1949, dir. Carol Reed)

Christopher Lee
Doesn’t get classier than him.
Favorite Performance: Lord Summerisle – The Wicker Man (1973, dir. Robin Hardy)

Buster Keaton
The clown with the stone face. I know I wouldn’t have one if I had to do the shit he did.
Favorite Performance: Johnny Gray – The General (1926, dir. Buster Keaton & Clyde Bruckman)

Bruce Campbell
Too groovy not to have him on this.
Favorite Performance: Ashley J. Williams – Evil Dead II (1987, dir. Sam Raimi)

Mads Mikkelsen
What is it with Euroart actors I love being used in dainty thrillers these days?
Favorite Performance: Le Chiffre – Casino Royale (2006, dir. Martin Campbell)

James Cagney
Mad as hell and the rest of him ain’t so good either.
Favorite Performance: Arthur “Cody” Jarrett – White Heat (1949, dir. Raoul Walsh)

Vincent Cassel
So far, so good.
Favorite Performance: Vinz – La Haine (1995, dir. Mathieu Kassovitz)

Michael Fassbender
Yeah, I maybe have a crush on him.
Favorite Performance: Conor O’Reilly – Fish Tank (2009, dir. Andrea Arnold)

Oscar Isaac
When a guy can channel his inner Pacino like Isaac does, I’m down.
Favorite Performance: Llewyn Davis – Inside Llewyn Davis (2013, dir. the Coen brothers)

Ben Mendelsohn
He just has that mug you feel still needs to be smacked around for all that rattles in it.
Favorite Performance: Neville Love – Starred Up (2013, dir. David Mackenzie)

Daniel Day-Lewis
Kind of obligatory if I want this taken seriously, don’t you think?
Favorite Performance: Christy Brown – My Left Foot (1989, dir. Jim Sheridan)

Nicolas Cage

To piss off my friends and because how can I hate such manic energy.
Favorite Performance: Charlie & Donald Kaufman – Adaptation. (2002, dir. Spike Jonze)

Henry Fonda

When we need a face of nobili– oh fuck, that’s right, Once Upon a Time in the West.
Favorite Performance: Abraham Lincoln – Young Mr. Lincoln (1939, dir. John Ford)

Johnny Depp

Back in the day when he used to be as inspired as his frequent collaborator Burton used to be inspired.
Favorite Performance: Captain Jack Sparrow – Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003, dir. Gore Verbinski)

Jackie Chan
Chan’s the man.
Favorite Performance: Wong Fei Hung – Drunken Master II (dir. Lau Kar-Leung & Jackie Chan, Hong Kong). The perfect blend of character acting, opera clown mugging, and of course, the stuntwork that you know Chan’s on this list for.

Shimura Takashi
Killjoy in all the best ways.
Favorite Performance: Dr. Yamane Kyohei – Godzilla (1954, dir. Honda Ishiro)

Lance Henriksen
How can a guy so sedate easily be the creepiest in the room?
Favorite Performance: Frank Black – Millennium (1996-99, crea. Chris Carter)

Gunnar Bjornstrand

The most down-to-earth thing in Bergman’s icy world.
Favorite performance: Jons – The Seventh Seal (1957, dir. Ingmar Bergman)

Bela Lugosi

Not much talent but certainly the legend.
Favorite Performance: Dracula – Dracula (1931, dir. Tod Browning)

Sid Haig
Ain’t ya ready for the Grindhouse?
Favorite Performance: Captain Spaulding – The Devil’s Rejects (2005, dir. Rob Zombie)

George C. Scott

His face is just too arch.
Favorite Performance: Gen. Buck Turgidson – Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964, dir. Stanley Kubrick)

Charles Laughton
I saw The Night of the Hunter first, so I thought it’d be hard to shake him off as a director. Damn, he was the best of both worlds.
Favorite Performance: Henry VIII – The Private Life of Henry VIII (1933, dir. Alexander Korda)

Jimmy Stewart

Mr. Everyman
Favorite Performance: George Bailey – It’s Such a Wonderful Life (1946, dir. Frank Capra)

Joe Pesci
Mr. Nomanleavesherealive
Favorite Performance: Tommy DeVito – Goodfellas (1990, dir. Martin Scorsese)

Charles Chaplin
Our precious Tramp.
Favorite Performance: Monsieur Verdoux – Monsieur Verdoux (1947, dir. Charles Chaplin)

Jeff Bridges
Nothing is fucked here.
Favorite Performance: Jeffrey “The Dude” Lebowski – The Big Lebowski (1998, dir. the Coen brothers)

Rutger Hauer
Well, he was the best thing about the 80s back in the day.
Favorite Performance: Roy Batty – Blade Runner (1982, dir. Ridley Scott)

Lon Chaney
The man of a thousand faces.
Favorite Performance: Alonzo the Armless – The Unknown (1927, dir. Tod Browning)

Vincent Price
No mere mortal can resist…
Favorite Performance: Dr. Anton Phibes – The Abominable Dr. Phibes (1971, dir. Robert Fuest)

The “Dwayne Johnson” Rock
Don’t fucking judge me.
Favorite Performance: All of Them – All of His Movies except San Andreas (All of Time, dir. The Rock directs himself except San Andreas. Seriously fuck San Andreas)

2 thoughts on “My Favorite Things – My Favorite Actors

  1. Another superb list. Love so many of these guys. My favorite performances of a few of your choices:

    Hoffman – SO hard to pick a best performance. Man… I just don’t know.
    Pacino – Another tough one, probably go with Dog Day Afternoon.
    Fassbender – Always be Shame for me, but no one could’ve pulled off Conor O’Reilly the way he did. Such a dangerous and perfect performance.
    Bjornstrand – GREAT pick. I’d go with Winter Light.

    • Thank you again!

      Hoffman was almost a pain in the ass to pick, but then I told myself if there is one reason everybody fucking loves the Master, its because how outlandishly incredible the primary cast is in that one.

      Pacino – Dog Day Afternoon was my third place choice (Behind Scarface)

      Fassbender – Pretty much ALL of Fassbender’s work with McQueen threatened to overtake my choice of Conor O’Reilly (Edwin Epps from 12 Years a Slave was the closest), but I couldn’t fool myself enough. What a fantastic actor/director pairing.

      Bjornstrand – As I said for Fassbender/McQueen, Bjornstrand/Bergman is no holds barred impressive (though not half as impressive as Bergman/Ullman/Andersson). I think what made me go with Jons in the end was simply the amount of candid levity Bjornstrand gave him without actually betraying the time and setting that he lived in and the doom he faced.

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