Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Where My Heart Lies: My Favorite Actors. And Yours?

instead of a tues top 10, a 25.

I did this once for the actresses but I'm always giving the ladies their due. So, here's to the silver screen men that have enriched my movie-life. I admit up front that I haven't investigated Classic Hollywood actors to the extent I've investigated their leading ladies, so this list is highly subject to change the more old movies I see in my life.

Nathaniel's 25 all time favorite leading men
In no particular order and extremely subject to change

Gene Kelly | Tony Leung Chiu-Wai |
Montgomery Clift | Jeff Bridges | Paul Newman

Jude Law | James Dean | William Holden | Gene Hackman | Rock Hudson
Jack Lemmon | Gael García Bernal | Ewan McGregor | James Stewart | Gregory Peck
Steve Martin | Marlon Brando | Jack Nicholson | Burt Lancaster | Richard Burton
Brad Pitt | Johnny Depp | Cary Grant | Warren Beatty | William Hurt

Because sometimes you just want to name names

The list is not comprehensive, not set in stone, not entirely defendable. But they're the ones I love best. The ones I somehow feel are mine. Not that you can't share them.

Post your top 20 at your personal web home -- no explanations necessary, just photos -- and I'll link up!

P.S. 1 I'm already pretty sure I forgot someone important
P.S. 2 Your lists go here... send me your links.

A Blogwork Orange
mixes icons like Bogie with modern tastes like Buscemi
Award Talk likes the formal gentlemen Ralph Fiennes, Sir Laurence Olivier and Leslie Howard. and other staples like Clark Gable and Cary Grant
Encore Entertainment gives props to greats that just missed my list like Ed Harris, Albert Finney and Dustin Hoffman
Runs Like a Gay goes retro with James Mason, Spencer Tracy and Alec Guinness
All That Film classics Astaire & O'Toole /modern giants Penn & DiCaprio

Cheerful Cynicism has a quirky mix including Yul Brynner (love!), Clark Gable (I didn't use to like him... but I'm slowly converting I must say), Hugh Jackman and more...
A Cinema Neophyte mostly modern with inspired choices and good pics
Journalistic Skepticism Penn, Hanks, Brando, Stewart and Jack lead
Many Rantings of John ranks his list. Douglas places. Welles and Brando rule
For Your Speculation gives a shout out to some typically supporting guys: Delroy Lindo, Chris Cooper and Peter Sarsgaard. Well played

Theme For Great Cities Bardem, Crudup and Strathairn... oh my
City of Angels ooh, Anthony Perkins and Claude Rains. Yay.
Sorta That Guy covers his favorites: Bernal, Gosling, Franco, Cheadle
Nick's Flick Picks tiered favorites. Chaplin. Fredric March & Sean Penn
Douglas Racso a wondrously international grab bag: Coco Martin, Max von Sydow, Daniel Auteuil, Gael García Bernal, Sir Ian McKellen

Film Away recently went mad for movies: Depp, Foxx, Clooney, Pacino
Reel Artsy Joaquin, Josh, Takeshi (sigh), Tobey
Rants of a Diva did his list ages ago. What took me so long?
A Blog Next Door calls his list "hodgepodge"... Caine, Broadbent, Owen, Marsden
Ferdy on Films is magnetized by Rudolph Valentino's eyes among others: Keir Dullea, Eduardo Noriega, Charles Durning

StinkyLulu is, like me, a dedicated actressexual. But we manage to find room for a few screen gods in our devotions all the same. Can you name the actor and the role?
Situated Laundry makes a vanilla bingo board and adds stage actors. I approve
Gratia Artis Peter Lorre, Charles Laughton, Robert Mitchum
The Sheila Variations ranks them. Mickey Rourke is back on top. Stockwell, Widmark, Duvall and Cooper also place.
new BookeyWookey Oleg Menshikov, Matthieu Kassovitz and Romain Duris. Mmmm x 3
newest Goatdog Penn and Cagney reign


Runs Like A Gay said...

Too hard.

Just wrote 2 lists, scribbled and changed and started again.

But don't know who to kick out.

You're definitely missing Spencer Tracy though.

Sean said...

Peter O'Toole has to be somewhere on here. Michael Caine and Sean Connery as well, but then I just watched "The Man Who Would Be King" again recently and my love for that movie is immense, so I may not be thinking rationally.

Besides, it's Connery's birthday, so he deserves some love today.

Christine said...

I don't have a web page, but is it okay if I link this to my Facebook? Ditto Sean's comment about Peter O'Toole. And there is no way I can sanction a top actor list that doesn't include Dirk Bogarde.

Wayne B said...

That's kinda hard; I've already got over 50 names listed.

Nathaniel - I'm surprised David Strathairn is nowhere on your list.

Clement said...

It's too hard to go all-time, so I'll go current. A top four, in no particular order.

1) Peter Sarsgaard
2) Benicio Del Toro
3) Ed Norton
4) Ralph Fiennes

As for 2009, the three leads in The Hurt Locker all made me instant fans of their potential in the future to do great, great things.

Cristhian said...

Notorious omissions: Marcello Mastroiani and Max Von Sydow

Anonymous said...

Where is River Phoenix?????

James Colon said...


Tried to mix it up b/w classic and contemporary. A lot harder than I thought it would be...

MrW said...

Jack Lemmon was one of a kind. When he did comedy, he did it effortlessly and most effectively (his performance in 'Some Like It Hot' may be the funniest in film history), and when he did drama, he was stunning without ever seeming to try hard.

Then there's Peter Lorre, who made every film worthwhile for his comic relief and character parts, but who could also carry a film if he got the chance (I can only recommend 'The Last One', a sadly underseen gem he wrote, directed and starred in).

Next to Lemmon and Lorre, my Top 5 list of favorite actors would definitely have to include Marlon Brando, Peter Ustinov and Robert De Niro (probably in that order).

Michael Caine, Paul Newman, Jack Nicholson, Bob Hoskins and Klaus Kinski would probably complete my Top 10, although Jimmy Stewart, Dustin Hoffman, Spencer Tracy, Marcello Mastroianni, Toshiro Mifune, Gert Fröbe, James Mason, Gael Garcia Bernal, Humphrey Bogart, Charles Laughton, Bruno Ganz, Cary Grant or Jeff Bridges could fill in one of the latter spots just as well.

Deivith Coast said...

Hello?? DANIEL DAY LEWIS???!!!

Alison Flynn said...

Because of the inclusion of Tony Leung Chiu-Wai alone this list wins. :D

J.L said...

Here's my list enjoy it!


Andrew K. said...

Here is mine.

http://encorentertainmnt.blogspot.com/2009/08/because-nathaniel-said-so.html...easier than I thought it would be...but It's the women I can't decide on.

Clarence said...

idk whether or not you like him but I think you're missing Sean Penn?

Chris Na Taraja said...

Your list is pretty conprehensive, but i would probably add Daniel Day Lewis and Ben Kingsley to mine.

I saw GANDHI a few weeks after seeing SEXY BEAST, and Kingsley was amazing in both.

Runs Like A Gay said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Runs Like A Gay said...

I've done it. So very hard, but another 20 lie in wait here:


Jude said...


Kelsy said...

my list is ridiculous:


Jorge Rodrigues said...

Did you hear?

THE TEMPEST was also postponed to 2010, following the path of Shutter Island, The Wolfman and Green Zone. Crazy Heart is expected to be the next one to be postponed to 2010.

NicksFlickPicks said...

Hmmm... that's quite a few major movies getting postponed so close together. I'm starting to wonder how much of this has to do with finance - if 2010 is looking a little thin, given that a lot of those movies would have been going into production around the time the economy tanked, and the studios need to make what they've got in the can stretch a little farther into the foreseeable future. I'm guessing that post-production on films like Shutter Island and Wolf Man must also be tricky in this economic climate. But I don't actually know anything, so why am I talking?

I'm probably just chatting myself into not noticing the Seanlessness and the Ralphlessness of the above. Nathaniel, if you're mad at me, just say so. Don't communicate "subliminally," or take it out on these guys.

Jorge Rodrigues said...

I bet Sean Penn's exclusion is due ENTIRELY to «I am Sam» and his subsequent nomination for Lead Actor at the Oscars :D

Andrew K. said...

I just realised that I put 25 instead of the required 20...
Oh well...

Agustin said...

brad pitt???
i didn't expect that!
Daniel Day Lewis should be there instead, if it were me


Brad Pitt and I broke up recently (Benjamin Button & Basterds... sorta) but I can't deny the years and years of prior love.

Nick... Fiennes & Penn are both in the top 50! It's not subliminal. Fiennes would be WAY higher if his career hadn't become so strangely limited after the early 90s

Deborah said...

Numbered only so I'd remember to stop at 25. Except Bogey is always #1.

After about a dozen, I started looking at my favorite movie list to refresh my memory, and it's remarkable how it keeps being the same actors over and over. I actually added Charlton Heston for that reason; he keeps being a reason to see a movie, even if you don't think of him as much of an actor. I go a lot by star power and charisma rather than "acting."

I did this very spontaneously. If I'd made a list of all hundred favorites and then narrowed, I'd never finish.

1. Humphrey Bogart
2. Sean Connery
3. Antonio Banderas
4. Spencer Tracy
5. Christopher Reeve (shut up!)
6. John Wayne
7. Clint Eastwood
8. Jimmy Stewart
9. Heath Ledger
10. Cary Grant
11. Joseph Gordon-Levitt
12. Hugh Grant
13. John Cusack
14. Russell Crowe
15. Charlton Heston
16. George Clooney
17. Peter Dinklage (well, he was a lead in one movie and I adore him)
18. Michael Caine
19. Zero Mostel
20. Bruce Willis
21. Fred Astaire
22. Henry Fonda
23. Gene Kelly
24. Jack Lemmon
25. Denzel Washington

Jude said...

These lists are fun and challenging. Very good idea, we should do more of these personal lists instead of Best or Worst lists. I mean, Citizen Kane could be the Best movie, but it's more interesting and personal hearing people list their favorites.


I agree Jude. That's why i keep trying to do my "personal canon" instead of a "greatest of all time" list. There's always more to see...

Luke said...

Got my 25 up and running for anyone's perusal...

John T said...

Here is mine: http://theworldofjot29.blogspot.com/2009/08/20-best-actors.html

For Your Speculation (Big Ted) said...

Here are mine!


Jeremy Helligar said...

Hi, Nathaniel. Here's my list:

Liv. said...

hope it's not too late to post my list. here it is;


Unknown said...

All tied for great:

1) Marcello Mastroianni
3) Jimmy Stewart
4) Paul Newman
5) Jack Lemmon
6) Jack Nicholson
7) DDL
8) George Clooney
9) Sean Penn
10) Peter Sellers
11) Bogart
12) Jeff Bridges
13) Ben Kingsley
14) Gregory Peck

And if it weren't for a few bad performances, I'd love to include Woody Allen and Russell Crowe.

The Marsha Mason in me is worried nobody said Dreyfuss.

Anonymous said...

Jude Law is my favorite actor.
That is all.

Thanks Nat


Alison Flynn said...

Here's my top 25, in no particular order. I know I'm forgetting some important ones - so many great actors that I love. :)

1. Tony Leung Chiu-Wai <3
2. Paul Newman
3. Cary Grant
4. Jimmy Stewart
5. Gregory Peck
6. Gene Hackman
7. Jack Lemmon
8. Jeff Bridges
9. Robert Downey Jr.
10. Daniel Day-Lewis
11. Marlon Brando
12. Claude Rains
13. James Dean
14. Joseph Cotten
15. Laurence Olivier
16. Steve Buscemi
17. Gene Kelley
18. Dustin Hoffman
19. Al Pacino
20. Robert DeNiro
21. Burt Lancaster
22. Benicio Del Toro
22. Viggo Mortensen
23. Sean Penn
24. Humphrey Bogart
25. James McAvoy

Terry said...

Very nice list... but no mention of Robert Duvall???

Ryan T. said...

This was fun, Nate!


Magazine covers. :-)

NicksFlickPicks said...


Bing147 said...

Classic foreign actors should be better represented. I'd think you'd love Marcello Mastroianni. And Von Sydow for me is easily one of the greatest actors ever... decided at the last second to leave out the Marx Brothers because I can't pick one and including them as a group seemed unfair. My final 3 cuts (Bill Murray, Mathieu Amalric and Burt Lancaster) were heartbreaking...

My 25:

25. Takashi Shimura
24. Robert De Niro
23. John Wayne
22. Marcello Mastroianni
21. Sidney Poitier
20. Charles Coburn
19. John Goodman
18. Jack Lemmon
17. Phillip Seymour Hoffman
16. Fernando Ray
15. Marlon Brando
14. Al Pacino
13. William Powell
12. Humphrey Bogart
11. Orson Welles
10. William Holden
9. Toshiro Mifune
8. Richard Burton
7. Daniel Day Lewis
6. Jack Nicholson
5. Paul Newman
4. Jeff Bridges
3. Max Von Sydow
2. Charles Chaplin
1. Cary Grant

Carl Joseph Papa said...


Here is mine!

Pretty young list, I think. Tossed in Filipino actors Dolphy and Coco Martin.


it's so international! love it.

ThaDropDownBear said...


theres my list...ahh I feel like such a noob i only really got into movies three years ago. Ahh well. I have a while to go ha ha.

Carl Joseph Papa said...

i so love doing lists :D i want more of this!

Anonymous said...

this list is amazing. but the lack of day lewis and jamie bell makes me sad.

Glendon said...

I was so pleased to see William Holden on your list! This summer I watched Bridge on The River Kwai, Paris... When It Sizzles (for this one, to hell with the haters), Stalag 17 and The Wild Bunch. Fantastic actor. Next week I'll be seeing Sunset Boulevard.

Karen said...

Here's my list! Fun times.


mB said...

Well that was hard!


Darren said...

Jude Law & Tony Leung rite now.
I can't wait to see Jude's HAMLET in Broadway, New york. London reviews were great.

Marilyn said...

I did this quite a while ago. We have one in common: Johnny Depp.


Steolicious said...

01.) Phillip Seymour Hoffman
02.) Al Pacino
03.) Jack Nicholson
04.) Dustin Hoffman
05.) Jeff Bridges
06.) Daniel Day Lewis
07.) Geoffrey Rush
08.) Michael Caine
09.) Sean Penn
10.) Ian McKellen
11.) Ewan McGregor
12.) Kevin Spacey
13.) Ralph Fiennes
14.) Albert Finney
15.) William H. Macy
16.) Antony Hopkins
17.) Cary Grant
18.) Javier Bardem
19.) Samuel L. Jackson
20.) Cilian Murphy
21.) Paul Newman
22.) Peter Fonda
23.) Joaquin Pheonix
24.) Sidney Poitier
25.) Benicio Del Toro
26.) Johnny Depp
27.) Jack Lemmon
28.) Paul Giamatti
29.) John Malkovich
30.) Robert Downey Jr
31.) Leonardo DiCaprio
32.) Christoph Waltz
33.) Peter Sarsgaard
34.) Robert De Niro
35.) Ben Kingsley
36.) Forest Witthaker
37.) Peter O'Toole
38.) George Brent
39.) Ryan Goslin
40.) Hugh Dancy
41.) David Strathairn
42.) Matt Damon
43.) Mark Ruffalo
44.) Jim Broadbent
45.) Liam Aiken
46.) Joe Pesci
47.) Jake Gyllenhaal
48.) Richard Dreyfuss
49.) Christopher Walken
50.) Russell Crow & Colin Farrell

Unknown said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Unknown said...

I'll do them by three tiers, each one alphabetically:

TIER ONE: My All-Time Favourite...”My” Golden Quintet...
- Richard Burton
- Cary Grant
- Jack Nicholson
- Al Pacino
- James Stewart

- Michael Caine (though he won Oscars for two of his weakest performances, especially the second, which really pisses me off)
- Daniel Day-Lewis
- Johnny Depp
- Gene Kelly
- Jack Lemmon
- Paul Newman
- Peter O’Toole

- Marlon Brando & Robert DeNiro (strange situation...I can’t not include them because they’re so objectively amazing but they don’t feel “mine”)
- George Clooney
- Gary Cooper
- Gene Hackman
- Marcello Mastroianni
- Sidney Poitier


steolicious no fair. u listed 50. i got 25 more fo ya easy.

gerard tiers are so the way to go

iñaki said...

Philip Seymour Hoffman
Peter Sarsgaard
Daniel Day Lewis
Chris Cooper
Ed Harris
Kevin Spacey
Jim Carrey

off the top of my head

StinkyLulu said...


Steolicious said...

It´s to hard to choose only 25 -_-

01.) Phillip Seymour Hoffman
02.) Al Pacino
03.) Jack Nicholson
04.) Dustin Hoffman
05.) Jeff Bridges
06.) Daniel Day Lewis
07.) Michael Caine
08.) Geoffrey Rush
09.) Sean Penn
10.) Ian McKellen
11.) Ewan McGregor
12.) Kevin Spacey
13.) Ralph Fiennes
14.) Cilian Murphy
15.) Javier Bardem
16.) Antony Hopkins
17.) Cary Grant
18.) William H. Macy
19.) Albert Finney
20.) Paul Newman
21.) Paul Giamatti
22.) Peter Fonda
23.) Johnny Depp
24.) Ben Kingsley
25.) Joaquin Samuel L. Jackson-Pheonix

OMG - I need a second list for the hotties like Jake Gyllenhaal & Jude Law and a third for german/austrian actors like Moritz Bleibtreu, Roberts Stadlober & Christoph Waltz!

Anonymous said...

Marlon Brando
Charlie Chaplin
Humphrey Bogart
Clark Gable
Paul Newman
Al Pacino
Jack Nicholson
Jeremy Irons
Anthony Hopkins
Daniel Day Lewis
Javier Bardem
Robert Deniro
Johnny Depp
Sean Penn
Edward Norton
Denzel Washington
Gary Oldman
Gael Garcia Bernal
Jean Reno
Benicio Del Toro
Mel Gibson
Ben Whishaw
Daniel Radcliffe
Michael Fassbender

Peter Chan said...

I'm so late as usual.... but I want to play.


estienne64 said...

List (of 25) favouring old-timers, Brits, hard-nuts and some funny-looking types here.

Sheila O'Malley said...

I finally decided to join in. Very difficult and I already want to make additions - but I will let my list stand.


Ted said...

Me too, me too...

Vertigo's Psycho said...

I did mine back in December, in response to your "20 Favorite Actresses" themed post:


Anonymous said...

PLEASE, don't hurt me ..:):)...

20. Jude Law
19. Jude Law
18. Jude Law
17. Jude Law
16. Jude Law
15. Jude Law
14. Jude Law
13. Jude Law
12. Jude Law
11. Jude Law
10. Jude Law
09. Jude Law
08. Jude Law
07. Jude Law
06. Jude Law
05. Jude Law
04. Jude Law
03. Jude Law
02. Jude Law
01. Jude Law

.. seriously:
20. Jimmy Stewart
19. Clint Eastwood
18. Gregory Peck
17. Al Pacino
16. Humphrey Bogart
15. Robert De Niro
14. Orson Welles
13. Daniel Day Lewis
12. Jack Nicholson
11. Paul Newman
10. Gene Kelly
09. Tony Leung Chiu-Wai
08. Montgomery Clift
07. James Dean
06. Cary Grant
05. James Stewart
04. Marlon Brando
03. Jude Law
02. Jude Law
01. Jude Law

dri said...

I did mine in December too:




Ryan said...

*I already spent wayyyy to long forming this list... aside from my beloved Monty, actual rankings will have to wait for now. btw, seriously LOVED this post Nathaniel :)

#1) Montgomery Clift
* * *
Marlon Brando
Charlie Chaplin
Daniel Day-Lewis
James Dean
Ralph Fiennes
Clarke Gable
Jake Gyllenhaal
Anthony Hopkins
Rock Hudson
Ben Kingsley
Jude Law
Heath Ledger
Tony Leung
Paul Newman
Jack Nicholson
Clive Owen
Gregory Peck
Sean Penn
Kevin Spacey
Jimmy Stewart
* * *
Chris Cooper
Russell Crowe
Gene Kelly
Benicio Del Toro
Forest Whitaker