Since the dawn of motion pictures one of the major factors that studios have relied upon to score a box office hit is the presence of a well known, popular, marquee actor. However, in latter years former titans of the multiplex, such as Tom Cruise or Harrison Ford, have seen their attraction wane significantly, and as a result less well known performers are being used who not only don’t cost as much, but also bring a significant degree of quality to proceedings as well.
Now there many superb actors out there but to list them all would take forever, so I have compiled a list of what I think are 5 of the best working in films today.
All of them charismatic, natural performers, unafraid to stretch themselves by taking on risky roles, always effortlessly seeming to hold the audiences attention, and somehow bringing that little something to every film in which they appear.
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Initially appearing in nonsense such as One Fine Day and Batman and Robin, Clooney has consistently defied the odds by refusing to take on parts that solely rely on his looks and instead giving gritty performances in the likes of Syriana and Michael Clayton. Along the way there have been some misfires – directorial efforts such as Leatherheads and Confessions of a Dangerous Mind were met with mixed reactions.
However by choosing to work with talented filmmakers such as The Coen Brothers, Alexander Payne and Jason Reitman, Clooney has managed to create a body of work that shows him as both a proper movie star and a talented performer.
Best Role: CIA Agent Bob Barnes in Syriana – a quiet, superbly understated performance that rightly won him a best supporting actor Oscar.
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Utterly brilliant as meth dealing chemistry teacher Walter White in TV’s Breaking Bad – Cranston is now fast becoming one of the hardest working and most sought actors in films today.
Soon to be seen in Gareth Edwards’ Godzilla reboot, he was the best thing about 2012’s Total Recall remake, very good as the tragic garage owner Shannon in Nicholas Winding Refn’s Drive (2011) and fantastically barbed as the acerbic CIA chief in Argo (2012). A natural actor with bucket loads of talent – one gets the feeling that the best is yet to come from this guy.
Best Role: What else? – Walter White in (the never to bettered) Breaking Bad.
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The fan’s favourite after completely stealing The Avengers, Thor and its sequel, as the scheming Loki. He was also very good in Steven Spielberg’s War Horse and is currently receiving great notices for his role as a vampire Jim Jarmusch’s Only Lovers Left Alive. Superb in everything he’s been in – Hiddleston somehow manages to be an incredibly magnetic screen presence and if he keeps it up could end up going down as one of the best actors this country has ever produced. Currently shooting Guillermo Del Toro’s upcoming Crimson Peak – surely a Loki spin off movie isn’t far away.
Best Role: Loki (naturally)- delivering hilarious one liners, bitchy put downs or just effortlessly upstaging Hemsworth and Hopkins -he made for one of the best screen baddies since Palpatine in Star Wars.
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First coming to prominence as jailed IRA terrorist Bobby Sands in Steve McQueen’s Hunger (2008), this guy has consistently impressed in just about everything he’s been in since. Successfully managing to give strong performances in smaller films such as Fish Tank and Shame, he also managed to shine in big budget blockbusters like X-Men First Class (as the young Magneto) and Prometheus.
More recently he was nominated for an Oscar for his terrifying turn as the vicious slave owner Epps in 12 Years a Slave and will soon to appearing again as Magneto in Bryan Singer’s mega budgeted X-Men: Days of Future Past.
Best Role: Now everyone cites Shame as the film that put him on the map – however for me it was as the android David, in Ridley Scott’s Prometheus where Fassbender impressed the most. Managing to be subtly cool and quietly funny, he owns every scene he is in. Ok the film divided audiences and critics alike (I lost track of the amount of heated texts Phil Hobden and I exchanged on this one) but without doubt he is the best thing in it by a mile.
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Currently riding high after his best actor win at the Oscars last month, and seemingly able to do no wrong – it certainly wasn’t always this way. Initial promise shown in A Time To Kill, Contact and Amistad was soon squandered by appearances in low brow (but high grossing) rom coms such as Failure To Launch and How To Lose A guy in 10 Days.
This all changed spectacularly in 2011 when McConaughey staged what can only be described as the greatest movie career comeback in living memory. Fondly known as the “McConaughnaissance” – out went the forgettable crappy comedies of old and in came several of the most outstanding performances ever seen in modern cinema.
Unbelievably, in just 3 years he’s starred in no less than 7 films, one highly acclaimed TV series (True Detective), and gone from being a likeable(ish) B list movie star to a bona fide brilliant actor that has Hollywood at his feet.
Indeed, he’s been so good of late, that its extremely hard to pick which one of his recent 7 roles he has impressed the most in.
He was terrifying in Killer Joe, as a murderous and somewhat perverted cop (I’ve not looked at chicken drumstick the same way since), stole all of his scenes in his extended cameo in The Wolf Of Wall Street, was hilarious as the egotistical leader of a troupe of male strippers in Magic Mike, and deservedly won the Academy Award for his frankly outstanding performance as an AIDS victim in the Dallas Buyers Club.
The problem with McConaughey is that he’s had such a good run of luck you worry where he goes from here –without doubt the big test will be Chris Nolan’s Interstellar (due later this year), which has major potential to be a total sci fi classic. All eyes will be on him and Nolan to see if they can deliver – personally I wouldn’t bet against it.
Autor: Will Strong