The Ten Best Actors of All Time [Relay Race]



Nostra over at My Filmviews came up with this ongoing blogathon, which is a really cool idea I must say!

I had the good fortune of being selected by Eric from The Warning Sign to take part in the “Ten Best Actors of All Time” Relay Race. For those who have missed it so far, here is Nostra’s description of the series:

"So what’s the idea behind the relay? I’ve created a list of what I think are the best actors. At the end of the post I, just like in a real relay race, hand over the baton to another blogger who will write his own post. This blogger will have to remove one actor (that is an obligation) and add his own choice and describe why he/she did this. At the end the blogger chooses another blogger to do the same. The idea is to make this a long race, so that enough bloggers get a chance to remove and add an actor. We will end up with a list (not ranked in order) which represents a common agreement of the best actors.
It will also mean that those who follow this relay race will get to know new blogs as well!"

As a reference point, here is the order of the race so far (starting from the beginning):
My Filmviews -> The Focused Filmographer -> Front Room Cinema -> I Love That Film -> FlixChatter -> All Eyes On Screen -> Time Well Spent -> The Warning Sign -> moviesandsongs365 ->


Robert De Niro

Daniel Day Lewis

Charlie Chaplin


Gary Oldman

Marlon Brando

Christian Bale

Gregory Peck

Leonardo DiCaprio

Paul Newman

My Addition: Anthony Hopkins

I feel the top 10 lacks foreign-language flavour, I just can't think of a great actor right now that would fit. Anthony Hopkins has been called the best actor of his generation, I think he deserves to be on the list (sorry to disagree with thefocusedfilmographer!).
To me, he has a nondescript face that can transform itself into many different characters. Hopkins was perfectly cast as charming and psychotic Hannibal Lecter, and even though he was only in The Silence of the Lambs (1991) for about 20 minutes, his oscar-winning break-through performance is what made the movie memorable. Lecter has been labelled by the AFI as the number one movie villain of all time.
That being said, Anthony Hopkins has generally avoided being type-cast, having also played a wide range of dramatic and challenging roles in such films as: The Elephant Man (1980), Dracula (1992), Shadowlands (1993), The Remains of The Day (1993), Nixon (1995), Surviving Picasso (1996), Amistad (1997), and one of my personal favorites The World's Fastest Indian (2005). His recent films have been patchy and a bit mediocre, but his performance in for example The Rite (2011) is acknowledged on rottentomatoes as the best thing about the film.
I'm looking forward to seeeing him bring Alfred Hitchcock to life in the biopic Hitchcock (2013). In interviews, Hopkins comes across as a hard-working, shy, and humble person. The only role I thought was wrong for him was Bad Company (2002), in his defense that was more to do with miscasting.



Who I removed: Robert Duvall
Granted, he puts in good performances, but I honestly find him to be a little overrated as an actor. He has starred in many classic films, but I don't rate Duvall among the best actors of all time. He often plays the same kind of jokey, down-to-earth, all-American, middle aged, likeable father-figure with a twinkle in his eye, from such films as Apocalypse Now, Days of Thunder, or Gone In Sixty Seconds. I haven't seen his oscar-nominated role in The Apostle (1997), which might convince me not to boot him off, what I can see from clips is that it's one of those over-the-top performances crying out for oscar attention (or maybe I'm being cynical today).
Then there's an acclaimed and popular mini-series I'v been meaning to watch called Lonesome Dove (1989), with a perfect 100% rating on rottentomatoes, and that features the other role he often portrays well, namely the aging cowboy.
Of course I mustn't forget to highlight his breakthrough as an actor in The Godfather part 1 and part 2, to be honest I didn't really see what all the fuss was about, the majority of the scenes, Duvall's low key character sat in a chair with a stoic look on his face.
Who knows, maybe Robert Duvall has done the best he could with the material he has been given over the years? Knowing how things go, he'll probably win lots of acting awards and lifetime achievement accolades the next few years to prove me wrong! If forced to remove an actor, Duvall is my choice. I see him as a very good actor, just not one of the absolute greats. A great actor is very subjective, so this is just my two cents ( :

I am passing the Relay Race challenge on to Alex Withrow at And So It Begins. His job is to remove one actor, replace him with another one, and pick out another blogger who will repeat these steps. Looking forward to seeing the changes and the reasoning behind it!

from Chris, moviesandsongs365

25 comments:

  1. Good choice. Him as Hannibal was really pretty damn chilling. While I'm a little sad to see Robert Duvall gone, I'm not all too surprised. He's a very good actor, love the roles he plays but I can't say that he's ever made me want to see a film for his performance.

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    1. @Jaina: Thanks, he was great in that part, wasn't he. Also the sequel and prequel he was chilling! Yes, Duvall is likeable in many performances, I just feel sometimes he struggles to go beyond that. I read somewhere Duvall's character's often stay the same, the character doesn't grow and change during the story.

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  2. Oh this is getting interesting to see someone who's off the list put back in again. I can't fault your reasoning for both adding back Hopkins and taking out Duval. I'm afraid I haven't seen enough of Duval's work to defend him, though he was excellent in 'To Kill A Mockingbird' without ever uttering a single line. But like you said, this thing is subjective which is what makes this 'race' all the more exciting. Well played, Chris!

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    1. @Ruth: I wasn't sure I was permitted to add Hopkins, since he had already been removed. Then I read the comments at thefocusedfilmographer that Nostra was curious if Hopkins would resurface, so that settled me down.
      I agree, acting is subjective and makes the race all the more interesting, we feel differently about liking or disliking people in the movies (and in life), it's human nature.
      Duvall is best as a supporting actor I'd say, probably not handsome enough as a leading man ( :

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    2. I don't think him being 'not handsome enough' is the issue, it's more of the 'star' quality factor for me. Some actors like Hopkins whom you added, he's not conventionally handsome but he's got that screen presence, that gravitas that makes you notice him even in a small role. Of course there are people like Peck and Brando who's both gorgeous beyond belief AND talented, but those are still quite rare.

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    3. @Ruth: Charisma and screen presence that makes them more memorable than the actors surrounding them is indeed important. But an actor would also stand out, if it was a bad performance ( :
      I think being handsome or having a specific face is a factor in an actor's career, even though we prefer to talk about the talent of an actor.
      That they can make us forget it's an act I think is key to great acting.

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  3. Nice to see that Hopkins makes a return! Understandable why you removed Duvall, although it's a shame to see him go.

    Looking forward to the next change, it's a site that's new to me!

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    1. @myfilmviews.com: Yes, is uncomfortable to push an actor off the list, I guess everyone has to do it ( :

      Seems like Alex at "And So It Begins" would be capable of adding something to the race, considering the "in character" posts he writes. Could be a few days though, he's just finished filming a short film, and been to Coachella Festival, so he could be exhausted right now ( :

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  4. Very interesting. Nice to see Hopkions re-emerge. I wonder how long it takes Duvall to reappear. Good point about the lack of foreign language flavour.

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    1. @Pete: There probably are some foreign language actors who deserve a place on a top 15 or top 20, Javier Bardem and Marcello Mastroianni come to mind. Maybe Duvall will return, who knows? ( :

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  5. Nice job, Chris! It's cool to see Hopkins make a reappearance. I thought about adding a foreign language actor as well, but I opted to go the classic route. It will be interesting to see if the race starts to go more in that direction.

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  6. @Eric, Thanks man, did seem a litte crazy that Hopkins was there, then deleted, then reappears, but I feel very strongly that he is among the greats. I sure hope there will be a foreign language actor on here by the end of this thing.

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  7. Very nice choice! I think Hopkins' portrayal of Lecter is alone worth of that spot, but he is one of those actors who never disappoint, not even in a bad movie.

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    1. @Sati: Thanks! The acting is amazing, no wonder Jodie Foster and A Hopkins both won oscars that year. I don't remember a bad performance by Hopkins either.

      I''ll be posting a review of Silence of the lambs, hopefully soon!

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  8. Even though I would have a hard time putting Duvall on a list of the greatest actors of ALL TIME, I have an equally hard time putting Hopkins on it. Hopkins has certainly had some great performances, Lecter being the one that stands out the most. But his resume isn't filled with tons of great roles that blow me away.

    That's just me and this is really a fun thing to sit around and talk about. But I just think the greatest actors of ALL TIME should include a few names ahead of Hopkins. That said, you made an excellent case for him.

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    1. @keithandthemovies: To each his own! I didn't say Hopkins was the greatest, I said one of the greats. Thanks for the praise, even though we don't entirely see eye to eye (who does?).
      I feel this blogathon allows anyone to argue in favour of, or against anything, it's that open to debate. I wish I knew even more about acting, I haven't been to actors studio, or film school, yet ( :

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  9. Nice choice. But you are right, this list is really missing some international flavor.

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    1. @Bonjour Tristesse: Any ideas, BT? Who (besides the two I refer to in the comments) are the greatest international actors in your opinion?

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  10. Thanks for passing it along. Sorry for the delay, I'll get it posted today!

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    1. @Alex Withrow: You're welcome. I thought the blogathon would suit you, and your "in character" writing. Good to hear you want to give it a go. I look forward to reading what you come up with. No rush, by the way! I think officially we each have a week to get it done ( :

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  11. Whaaaaa? Hopkins comes back, huh?

    The first comeback kid.

    At least I can thank you for keeping Team Batman!! :)

    I still hold that Hopkins shouldn't be on this list, but it sure is fun to see the other side of that coin! I welcome your addition and look forward to what else happens on this list. It's quite the distinguished list to be narrowing down from now! :)

    Appreciate the mention as well! Good round.

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    1. @TheFocusedFilmographer: Good to know I didn't offend you. As has been said, acting is very subjective, and anyone can argue for or against the same actor.

      I will be sure to comment on your review of The World's Fastest Indian, in the next few days, love that film ( :

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  12. btw, I LOVE The World's Fastest Indian! http://wp.me/pWaTa-ps

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  13. I'm not surprised to see someone like A. Hopkins receiving some love as he is very capable at what he does. Having said that, he's not my favorite and I think he is a bit overrated, as I almost always feel he comes off the same in almost every role he plays. Lets just say I don't think he has the range other actors have. I also disapprove of some of his film choices along the way, especially in the last few years, not to mention I don't think there are more than a couple of outstanding performances in his career, which is not enough for me to put him on this list.
    Robert Duvall wasn't my favorite inclusion in this list either so I'm not unhappy to see him go either. I feel there are loads of old Hollywood actors, especially from the golden age, such as Humphrey Bogart or Clark Gable just to name a couple that left an indelible mark on the history of cinema and acting.

    Great debate and these are all great actors in my view, I just think some are better than others and they haven't even been mentioned.

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    1. @niels85: You make a number of valid arguments, but I think any actor is going to repeat themselves a little over a career no matter who you are. I do agree Hopkins' choices in recent times have been questionable, good to see he'll play Hitchcock soon, can't wait!

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