Acting. It's unbelievably hard and it takes a great deal to actually be considered a master of the art. That said, my idea of a great actor is probably very different than yours. For me, great acting is somebody who becomes an entirely different person with each role. That means, actors like Johnny Depp, George Clooney, and Christopher Walken are out because they basically play the same version of themselves in every movie. Prove me wrong.
So, without further yammering...
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5. Paul Newman
Paul Newman, with his good looks, calm demeanor, and charm, may not seem like a great actor at first, but you have to weigh the history of his films against each other. The pool wizard seen in The Hustler, and then later in The Color of Money, are the same character, but played with a great deal of gravitas between them. I think this is because as Paul Newman aged, he took that experience of age with him into his roles, which is why he was so good in a later film like Road to Perdition. His growth as an actor throughout his career is what made him so great. It's also why he was so beloved. The audience aged with him.
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4. Dustin Hoffman
Dustin Hoffman is so great because you can never tell what you're going to get when watching his films. He could play it straight (All the President's Men), crooked (Midnight Cowboy), loopy (Tootsy), and even sympathetic (Kramer vs. Kramer). Hell, he can even be convincing trapping a man in a bear trap (Straw Dogs). Whatever he does, you're going to get something magical...even if the movie itself sucks (Ishtar).
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3. Daniel Day Lewis
Here's the thing with me. If an actor can blow me away in not one (Like Heath Ledger in The Dark Knight) but at least TWO projects with completely different roles, then you've earned a place on this list. Daniel Day Lewis doesn't do a lot of films, but every film he does, he's the most captivating part about it. Just see movies like In the Name of the Father, Gangs of New York, and The Age of Innocence. Honestly, I don't think they're great films, but they're memorable. And why is that? Because Daniel Day Lewis is in them.
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2. Bryan Cranston
My best friend, who's Indian, once told me that in India, some of the actors are revered as gods. Honest to truth gods. And sometimes, for some of their films, after the actor in question says a line of dialogue, people in the audience stand up and clap. That's ridiculous. But you know what, I've actually adopted doing this for Bryan Cranston. If you ever watched Malcolm in the Middle and later watched him in Breaking Bad, you'll notice that he was a much greater actor than you ever imagined possible. Anybody who can play the goofball patriarch Hal in one show and then go to the meth making bad guy, Walt, in another is an actor for the ages. And even his film work is starting to look pretty good. I'm interested to see where he takes it. He's one of the best around.
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1. Gary Oldman
Gary Oldman, to me, is the perfect actor. He's a chameleon! I've literally sat through entire films only to see Oldman's name in the credits and saying, "Wait, that was Gary Oldman?!" He can do any role and better than anybody else. Watch Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, watch Leon: The Professional, watch True Romance, watch Sid and Nancy. Seriously, he's in every one of those films and you wouldn't even know it. He's the best actor in the past 50 years.