My favorite actors of all time

Fredric March is one of the greatest
actors of all time and one of
my favorites.
When it comes to acting, very few excel at the craft. And often times, when they are fantastic, they tend to not do so great in accessible roles or they find themselves in a scandal they cannot get out of. Recently, I have discovered some of the best actors have the worst political views ever, but separating who they are as people and what they think politically is not as challenging as you think. Because in spite of some of them sharing a different perception and general outlook, they can still act. So, who are my favorite actors of all time?

Al Pacino in Godfather - When it comes the role of Michael Corleone, Pacino transformed the character from a very scared young adult into a very powerful, strong man. Taking over the family mob, Pacino was Corleone. When you watch the very first film into the second and finally into the third, you can see the dynamics of the Michael Corleone character and what Al Pacino did to bring this particular to life on the big screen. 

Bryan Cranston in Breaking Bad - Cranston is probably the most accessible actor in the world. Never have I ever witnessed an actor deliver such a powerful transformation of a character. He took a modestly meek, overqualified science teacher Walter White and turned him into a powerful, drug lord named Heisenberg. The acting Cranston brought to the Breaking Bad show is impeccable and If acting metamorphosis were a thing, I guarantee Cranston as Walter White would epitomize it. 

Edward Woodward in The Equalizer - Some of the most versatile, fluid actors are those who do more than just act. They become their characters. Woodward not only portrayed this role amazingly, he became him. Although Woodward graced the stages of broadway and film, his role Robert McCall is one of best showcases of acting I've ever seen in my life. 

Michael Williams in The Wire - Very few actors have the ability to captivate you and hold your attention, while making you ultimately confused whether or not they have become the character they portray or are the character they portray. When it comes to Omar Little, Williams did more than just act, he became that character.

Gene Wilder in Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory - When it comes to the world of bizarreness and candy, this movie is the end result. They can remake this movie a million times and there would be no one who could do the role because let's face it, Gene Wilder was and will always be Willy Wonka. He created a character that was eccentric, happy, lost, and hardworking and made him the man behind the biggest candy factory in the world. 

Jonathan Rhys Meyers in Elvis - As disappointing as the movie was, Rhys Meyers delivered this role so effortlessly. Out of so many actors who attempt to portray the "King of Rock" Jonathan Rhys Meyers became Elvis and took his personal love for music to new heights and depths when he took on the role and became it. Rhys Meyers has acted in quite a few things where he shines, but this is by far his best demonstration of acting ability and talent.

Fredric March in Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde - Some of the best roles are those most people cannot play. As this story depicts darkness surrounding around an unhinged and possessed doctor who epitomizes the term "insane" there is just no one who can deliver such verity in the role of Mr. Edward Hyde like March can. When you examine the dynamics of the character, he exudes bipolar disorder on a whole other level. Being able to turn off your personality and go from various states is one thing, but to make us, the audience believe you is on another. 

Marlon Brando in Julius Caesar - When it comes to depicting the harsh reality of Mark Anthony, Brando proves why he was not only the best person to take on the Roman politician, but why he actually delivered a performance so superb, I have yet to see anyone touch this particular role and do as good. Brando was great in quite a few things, but his best acting ever came directly from this role. 

Robert DeNiro in Once Upon A Time In America - When it comes to the role of David "Noodles" Aaronson, no one can create such character as DeNiro can. He built this character from the ground up and it shows in his astounding presentation and overall result. Almost like a Corleone redux, DeNiro proves why he is one of the greatest actors there is. This is by far his best role to date.

Peter O'Toole in Lawrence of Arabia - This role was extremely diverse in a sense where O'Toole became a man who was not just an archaeologist, but an officer, a writer, and a diplomat. Even if they remade this film a hundred times, I guarantee no one will be able to touch O'Toole's performance. Peter O'Toole was, is, and will always be Thomas Edward Lawrence.

Aamir Khan in Laagan - Some of the greatest actors are from Bollywood and it is no secret that Khan really proved his acting abilities when he took on the main role as Bhuvan in Laagan. Khan not only defined the character, but really brought the role to life the entire time. This character has so much depth and I do not think anyone else could have taken this character and transformed him into something bigger, but Khan himself.

Paul Muni in The Story of Louis Pasteur - It is extremely difficult to create a character that can depict the life and death of someone, especially when that someone is an inventor like Louis Pasteur, a French biologist and chemist who changed the way we live and has helped the world as we know it. Muni brought the role to life and allowed us to see who Pasteur was on the big screen. 

Joaquin Phoenix in Joker - For many years I always thought Jack Nicholson and Heath Ledger were the greatest Jokers' in the history of cinema. Then, I watched this movie and realized that Phoenix not only delivered one of the greatest performances ever, he epitomized the Joker. When I think of Arthur Fleck, I think of Phoenix. 

Phillip Seymour Hoffman in Capote - It is a well known fact that Truman Capote was one of the greatest writers of all time, as he was a visionary and realist who taught himself how to read and write. He excelled in a plethora of subjects, but managed to become a better version of himself. It was when he dipped into the realm of true crime a lot changed. Hoffman not only delivered the role incredibly, but he became Capote.

Christopher Plummer in Sound of Music - I'm not the biggest fan of musicals, but Plummer's performance as Captain Von Trapp had me sold. Not only did Plummer deliver the role impeccably, but he became Von Trapp and brought the entire movie together. If this movie were to be remade, I just don't think the role of Captain Von Trapp would be the same, as Plummer will always be known for this role.

Anthony Hopkins in Silence of The Lambs - When it comes to the role of Hannibal Lecter, there is no one on earth who could have done this role better. I felt like I was watching an authentic cannibalistic serial killer in action. His performance was not only one of the best, but underrated compared to most acting today. 

Johnny Depp in Blow - It is no secret Johnny Depp is one of the best actors of all time, as he is quite possibly one of the most accessible actors there is; however, it was his role as George Jung which made me realize how fantastic he actually is. He took a regular guy and made him into a powerful criminal. The transformation and projection of this character made me realize how great of an actor Depp actually is. 

Gotaro Tsunashima in Japanese Story - The film is very unique because it is a love story between a Japanese businessman and an Australian woman. Tsunashima brought the character to life as Hiromitsu Tachibana and made you see the repercussions of falling in love while married. Tsunashima was brilliant and really made the story come together. 

Leonardo DiCaprio in The Basketball Diaries - It is known fact that DiCaprio is one of the greatest actors of our generation. He has developed into quite a character actor, making him one of the greatest of all time. But he was most brilliant in the role of Jim Carroll. He introduced the result of relentless drug abuse and allowed us to see what can happen if you use and abuse drugs. Some of the best acting ever. 

James Caan in Misery - If you can imagine it, the character Paul Sheldon wrote about revolves around this entire movie. Caan delivered an impeccable performance as Sheldon and really pulled through and made us believe psychos do exist, as he also made us aware they can be dealt with accordingly. Caan was also great as Sunny Corleone in The Godfather. 

Sidney Poitier in Lilies of The Field - Homer Smith was a man with many skills, big dreams, and an even bigger heart. Poitier portrays his character as an authentic handyman who can fix anything. Fiction can be stranger than the truth, as truth can be stranger than fiction, but one thing is certain, this role proves anything can happen at anytime. Poitier's acting was fanatic and I can honestly envision this story happening today. 

Bruce Lee in Enter The Dragon - When it comes to the art of fighting without fighting, this was the first real mainstream martial arts movie. Lee put so much heart and soul into this role. Little did he know, this role would be his last. And sometimes, some of the greatest roles ever by an actor or actress is there last. 

Ethan Hawke in Tesla - Hawke is one of the most underrated actors of all time. He has taken on a wide-range, variety of roles and still doesn't get the recognition he wholeheartedly deserves. At least in my opinion. Although he was outstanding as Jack Conroy in White Fang, Hawke became Nikola Tesla in Tesla making it one of the most proclaimed roles. I have watched other actors attempt to portray Tesla and although some of them were good, no one can touch Hawke's portrayal of the inventor. 

Rami Malek in Bohemian Rhapsody - As I was kind of skeptical about Malek originally portraying Mercury, he delivered such an incredible performance it made me believe he was truly Farrokh Bulsara in disguise. Truth be told, I always felt like Malek was a good actor, but never great nor amazing until he portrayed Freddie Mercury in Bohemian Rhapsody. This is by far one of my favorite acting performances ever in cinema. 

Jack Nicholson in One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest - I'm sure most of you thought I would list another movie here. Nicholson is clearly one of the greatest actors of all time, but truth to be told, I found his portrayal of Mac McMurphy to be his best. He depicted an authentic American criminal and really brought the role home.

Chiwetel Ejiofor in 12 Years A Slave - When it comes playing the role of Solomon Northup, Ejiofor's performance shined. Everything from the projection of the character to the delivery itself to the overall role made me believe him. I felt as if Northup came into Ejiofor and told his story through this role alone.

Haley Joel Osment in The Sixth Sense - Psychics are very real, as are intuitive investigators and clairvoyants. When Osment took on the role of psychic Cole Sear he was only a little kid and proved the sixth sense is very much real. Definitely some of the best acting ever by any actor of any age. 

Zac Efron in Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil, and Vile - Never in a million years would I have ever thought Efron would play Ted Bundy. He did such a phenomenal job with this role, I was honestly starting to believe he was Bundy towards the end of the film. Efron has never been the best actor, but he truly proves everyone wrong with this particular role. 

Kodi Smit-McPhee in Alpha - To be honest, I didn't hear about the movie Alpha until a year after it was actually released. There was limited press about it. I wasn't sure if they expected the movie to be good, but after actually watching the movie, it is safe to say that McPhee as Keda was brilliant. In fact, if McPhee continues on this path, he is on the verge of polishing an Oscar in the near future. 

Macaulay Culkin in Home Alone - I think Kevin McCallister taught us all that no matter how old you are, you can still outsmart anyone. Although Culkin is grown, he was only like nine or ten years old when he took on this role and built the franchise. 

Jamie Foxx in Ray - Let's face it, Ray Charles was one of the pioneers of soul music. He was extremely true to music. When I heard Foxx was going to portray him in Ray I was kind of confused because I always assumed he was a comedian. I learned I was wrong after this role, as Foxx became Ray Charles. 

I am sure I left out quite a few people. I will update this if I can think of anyone else. 

Update 11/25/20:

Chadwick Boseman in Ma Rainey's Black Bottom - If you know me, you know how much I love and appreciate the stylistic blues of Ma Rainey. She is probably one of my favorite singers of all time. The movie was somewhat of a white guilt movie, but it had its amazing moments in it; however, I have to give credit to Boseman for delivering some of the most moving, believable acting I have ever seen. I don't know if Levee Green ever existed in the life of Ma Rainey, but he definitely did in this film depicting her life. Boseman definitely stole the movie with his performance here. 

Who are your favorite actors of all time?


Billy Housh said…
A lot of bangers on this list, Sarah. I'm rooting for Joaquin Phoenix this year.

I would add Anthony Quinn to your list. He's played a lot of roles in great films and one of my favourites is in Zorba The Greek.

I also like Mads Mikkelsen. I knew he was going to be a big star when I saw him in The Pusher trilogy. His best performance this year was in the video game Death Stranding. I honestly think performance capture in games should be a televised category in the Oscars from now on.

Tom Hardy is great too. He can plays fun unhinged stoic characters. I loved his performance in Bronson.

I can go on and on. Can we expect a list of your favourite actresses of all time? That would be really interesting.
Chad said…
Dont judge me but I dont know him!!!! I am super intrigued to watch some of his stuff, i am sure he is great.
Anonymous said…
Great list! I never saw Zac Efron as Bundy yet. I’m surprised he took on that role to be honest.
Rose Ann Sales said…
That was such a nice list, I love all of them, but my favorite would be Bryan Cranston and Johnny Depp. Breaking bad is the best series for me as of now.
Anonymous said…
I love Bryan Cranston. He’s the best actor of them all honestly.
EJ requina said…
Love Breaking Bad. I think Bryan Cranston is one heck of an actor. And so is Joaquin actually everyone on your list are just superb actors.
Tweenselmom said…
I love Joaquin Phoenix too and I'm so happy for him bagging so many awards this year. I loved him in The Gladiator and then the Joker which I couldn't finish because I hate the people hurting him.
Rhonda Albom said…
While I know most of these actors and agree they are great, I don't know most of the movies.
Joy Della Vita said…
I'm so bad with remembering names (it takes weeks until I remember names of new colleagues at work... ), and even more bad with names of actors. But I like Sound of Music, that's a nice film (/series) :)
Adriana Lately said…
Oh The Godfather was such a great movie! Such a classic
Wow! That is a list! For me, it has to be Hugh Jackman in Les Misérables. That is on top of my mind.
CourtneyLynne said…
Omg so many great actors!!! I just love Robert DeNiro! He’s in so many great flicks
Bindu Thomas said…
Great list. You can use it as a guide for some of the best performances.
Lisa fucci said…
I must admit I’m not a huge fan of Hollywood. But I do love me some Network actors. My girlfriend is a background actor on NCiS and she loves it.
Jasmine M said…
This was an amazing list! I also loved Gene Wilder in Willy Wonka and Jack Nicholson. I still need to watch The Joker movie. I keep hearing about how amazing it was.
Ann said…
Good list!
I think my favorite author is Walter Scott :)
Jessica said…
I remember Leonardo DiCaprio in basketball diaries... He is one of the best actors out there and it took so long for the academy to recognise him.
Matt said…
Those are all really good actors!! I have seen a lot of those movies. Great list! Some of my favorites are Tom Hanks and Tom Hardy.
I don't watch movies anymore but even when I did, I always loved John Wayne!
You're quite the movie buff. I especially like old movies and we share some of the same favorites.
Wow what a list! Some great productions and actors here. Some people are just made for a role, you have got them spot on here.
Kathy said…
Oh wow. I had no idea he was so prolific. I think I need to dive into his work.
Ntensibe Edgar said…
Donnie Yuen! He is my all-time favourite actor. No one beats him.
Wow! What an incredible list! So many of my favorites are listed as well.
Fatima D Torres said…
Jack Nicholson's role in One Flew Over The Coocoo's Nest was genius! I really enjoyed the book and film.
Lyanna Soria said…
They are all wonderful actors you've listed there. Definitely a big fan of Leonardo DiCaprio and Johnny Depp.
Lily said…
Great list of Actors. Leo is one of mine and I really hope he gets his Oscar this year!
Emman Damian said…
They are all good actors! I hope to watch all of their movies soon!
I loved Rami Malek in Bohemian Rhapsody! He just nailed it!