Best Acting Performances

by samhobby | created - 2 months ago | updated - 2 months ago | Public

The best performances by an actor/actress throughout movie history.

1. Edward Norton

Actor | Keeping the Faith

American actor, filmmaker and activist Edward Harrison Norton was born on August 18, 1969, in Boston, Massachusetts, and was raised in Columbia, Maryland.

His mother, Lydia Robinson "Robin" (Rouse), was a foundation executive and teacher of English, and a daughter of famed real estate developer ...

2. Robert Shaw

Actor | Jaws

Robert Archibald Shaw was born on August 9, 1927, in Westhoughton, Lancashire, England, the eldest son of Doreen Nora (Avery), a nurse, and Thomas Archibald Shaw, a doctor. His paternal grandfather was Scottish, from Argyll. Shaw's mother, who was born in Piggs Peak, Swaziland, met his father while...

3. J.K. Simmons

Actor | Whiplash

J.K. Simmons is an American actor.

He was born Jonathan Kimble Simmons in Grosse Pointe, Michigan, to Patricia (Kimble), an administrator, and Donald William Simmons, a music teacher. He attended the Ohio State University, Columbus, OH; University of Montana, Missoula, MT (BA in Music).

He had ...

4. Kevin Spacey

Actor | The Usual Suspects

Kevin Spacey Fowler, better known by his stage name Kevin Spacey, is an American actor of screen and stage, film director, producer, screenwriter and singer. He began his career as a stage actor during the 1980s before obtaining supporting roles in film and television. He gained critical acclaim in...

5. Russell Crowe

Actor | Les Misérables

Russell Ira Crowe was born in Wellington, New Zealand, to Jocelyn Yvonne (Wemyss) and John Alexander Crowe, both of whom catered movie sets. His maternal grandfather, Stanley Wemyss, was a cinematographer. Crowe's recent ancestry includes Welsh (where his paternal grandfather was born, in Wrexham),...

6. Jack Nicholson

Actor | Chinatown

Jack Nicholson, an American actor, producer, director and screenwriter, is a three-time Academy Award winner and twelve-time nominee. Nicholson is also notable for being one of two actors - the other being Michael Caine - who have received Oscar nomination in every decade from the 1960s through the...

7. Heath Ledger

Actor | Brokeback Mountain

When hunky, twenty-year-old heart-throb Heath Ledger first came to the attention of the public in 1999, it was all too easy to tag him as a "pretty boy" and an actor of little depth. He spent several years trying desperately to sway this image, but this was a double-edged sword. His work comprised ...

8. Christoph Waltz

Actor | Django Unchained

Christoph Waltz is an Austrian-German actor. He is known for his works with American filmmaker Quentin Tarantino, receiving acclaim for portraying SS-Standartenführer Hans Landa in Inglourious Basterds (2009) and bounty hunter Dr. King Schultz in Django Unchained (2012). For each performance, he ...

9. Tom Hanks

Producer | Cast Away

Thomas Jeffrey Hanks was born in Concord, California, to Janet Marylyn (Frager), a hospital worker, and Amos Mefford Hanks, an itinerant cook. His mother's family, originally surnamed "Fraga", was entirely Portuguese, while his father was of mostly English ancestry. Tom grew up in what he has ...

10. Christian Bale

Actor | The Dark Knight

Christian Charles Philip Bale was born in Pembrokeshire, Wales, UK on January 30, 1974, to English parents Jennifer "Jenny" (James) and David Bale. His mother was a circus performer and his father, who was born in South Africa, was a commercial pilot. The family lived in different countries ...

11. Guy Pearce

Actor | Memento

Guy Edward Pearce was born 5 October, 1967 in Cambridgeshire, England, UK to Margaret Anne and Stuart Graham Pearce. His father was born in Auckland, New Zealand, to English and Scottish parents, while Guy's mother is English. Pearce and his family initially traveled to Australia for two years, ...

12. Rosamund Pike

Actress | Gone Girl

Born on January 27, 1979 in London, England, actress Rosamund Mary Elizabeth Pike is the only child of a classical violinist mother, Caroline (Friend), and an opera singer father, Julian Pike. Due to her parents' work, she spent her early childhood traveling around Europe. Pike attended Badminton ...

13. Russell Crowe

Actor | Les Misérables

Russell Ira Crowe was born in Wellington, New Zealand, to Jocelyn Yvonne (Wemyss) and John Alexander Crowe, both of whom catered movie sets. His maternal grandfather, Stanley Wemyss, was a cinematographer. Crowe's recent ancestry includes Welsh (where his paternal grandfather was born, in Wrexham),...

14. Hugh Jackman

Actor | Les Misérables

Hugh Michael Jackman is an Australian actor, singer, multi-instrumentalist, dancer and producer. Jackman has won international recognition for his roles in major films, notably as superhero, period, and romance characters. He is best known for his long-running role as Wolverine in the X-Men film ...

15. Mark Ruffalo

Actor | The Kids Are All Right

Mark Ruffalo was born in Kenosha, Wisconsin, to Marie Rose (Hebert), a stylist and hairdresser, and Frank Lawrence Ruffalo, a construction painter. His father's ancestry is Italian, and his mother is of half French-Canadian and half Italian descent. Mark moved with his family to Virginia Beach, ...

16. River Phoenix

Actor | My Own Private Idaho

River Phoenix was born River Jude Bottom in Madras, Oregon. His mother, Arlyn (Dunetz), a Bronx-born secretary, and his father, John Bottom, a carpenter, met in California in 1968. They worked as itinerant fruit pickers, and later joined the Children of God religious group (John was originally ...

17. Oscar Isaac

Actor | Ex Machina

Oscar Isaac was born Óscar Isaac Hernández Estrada in Guatemala, to a Guatemalan mother, María Eugenia, and a Cuban father, Oscar Gonzalo Hernández-Cano, a pulmonologist. Oscar was raised in Miami, Florida. Before he became an actor, he played lead guitar and sang vocals in his band the Blinking ...

18. Bill Murray

Actor | Lost in Translation

Bill Murray is an American actor, comedian, and writer. The fifth of nine children, he was born William James Murray in Wilmette, Illinois, to Lucille (Collins), a mailroom clerk, and Edward Joseph Murray II, who sold lumber. He is of Irish descent. Among his siblings are actors Brian Doyle-Murray, ...

19. Alan Rickman

Actor | Die Hard

Alan Rickman was born on a council estate in Acton, West London, to Margaret Doreen Rose (Bartlett) and Bernard Rickman, who worked at a factory. He had English, Irish, and Welsh ancestry. Alan had an older brother David, a younger brother Michael and a younger sister Sheila. When Alan was 8 years ...

20. Natalie Portman

Actress | Black Swan

Natalie Portman is the first person born in the 1980s to have won the Academy Award for Best Actress (for Black Swan (2010)).

Natalie was born Natalie Hershlag on June 9, 1981, in Jerusalem, Israel. She is the only child of Avner Hershlag, a Israeli-born doctor, and Shelley Stevens, an American-born...

21. Natalie Portman

Actress | Black Swan

Natalie Portman is the first person born in the 1980s to have won the Academy Award for Best Actress (for Black Swan (2010)).

Natalie was born Natalie Hershlag on June 9, 1981, in Jerusalem, Israel. She is the only child of Avner Hershlag, a Israeli-born doctor, and Shelley Stevens, an American-born...

22. Dustin Hoffman

Actor | Rain Man

Dustin Lee Hoffman was born in Los Angeles, California, to Lillian (Gold) and Harry Hoffman, who was a furniture salesman and prop supervisor for Columbia Pictures. He was raised in a Jewish family (from Ukraine, Russia-Poland, and Romania). Hoffman graduated from Los Angeles High School in 1955, ...

23. Anthony Hopkins

Actor | The Silence of the Lambs

Anthony Hopkins was born on December 31, 1937, in Margam, Wales, to Muriel Anne (Yeats) and Richard Arthur Hopkins, a baker. His parents were both of half Welsh and half English descent. Influenced by Richard Burton, he decided to study at College of Music and Drama and graduated in 1957. In 1965, ...

24. Bruce Willis

Actor | Die Hard

Actor and musician Bruce Willis is well known for playing wisecracking or hard-edged characters, often in spectacular action films. Collectively, he has appeared in films that have grossed in excess of $2.5 billion USD, placing him in the top ten stars in terms of box office receipts.

Walter Bruce ...

25. Jeremy Renner

Actor | The Hurt Locker

Jeremy Lee Renner was born in Modesto, California, the son of Valerie (Tague) and Lee Renner, who managed a bowling alley. After a tumultuous yet happy childhood with his four younger siblings, Renner graduated from Beyer High School and attended Modesto Junior College. He explored several areas of...

26. Robin Williams

Actor | Mrs. Doubtfire

Robin McLaurin Williams was born on Saturday, July 21st, 1951, in Chicago, Illinois, a great-great-grandson of Mississippi Governor and Senator, Anselm J. McLaurin. His mother, Laurie McLaurin (née Janin), was a former model from Mississippi, and his father, Robert Fitzgerald Williams, was a Ford ...

27. Daniel Day-Lewis

Actor | There Will Be Blood

Born in London, England, Daniel Michael Blake Day-Lewis is the second child of Cecil Day-Lewis (pseudonym Nicholas Blake), Poet Laureate of the U.K., and his second wife, actress Jill Balcon. His maternal grandfather was Sir Michael Balcon, an important figure in the history of British cinema and ...

28. Jack Black

Actor | The School of Rock

Jack Black was born Thomas Jacob Black in Santa Monica, California, to Judith Love (Cohen) and Thomas William Black, both satellite engineers. He is of British-German (father) and Russian Jewish (mother) ancestry. Black attended the University of California at Los Angeles. While at UCLA, he was a ...

29. Robin Williams

Actor | Mrs. Doubtfire

Robin McLaurin Williams was born on Saturday, July 21st, 1951, in Chicago, Illinois, a great-great-grandson of Mississippi Governor and Senator, Anselm J. McLaurin. His mother, Laurie McLaurin (née Janin), was a former model from Mississippi, and his father, Robert Fitzgerald Williams, was a Ford ...

30. Michael Fassbender

Actor | Shame

Michael Fassbender was born in Heidelberg, Germany, to a German father, Josef, and an Irish mother, Adele (originally from Larne, County Antrim, in Northern Ireland). Michael was raised in the town of Killarney, Co. Kerry, in south-west Ireland, where his family moved to when he was two years old. ...

31. Tom Hanks

Producer | Cast Away

Thomas Jeffrey Hanks was born in Concord, California, to Janet Marylyn (Frager), a hospital worker, and Amos Mefford Hanks, an itinerant cook. His mother's family, originally surnamed "Fraga", was entirely Portuguese, while his father was of mostly English ancestry. Tom grew up in what he has ...

32. Anthony Perkins

Actor | Psycho

Anthony Perkins was born April 4, 1932 in New York City to Janet Esselstyn (Rane) and Osgood Perkins, an actor of both stage and film. His paternal great-grandfather was noted engraver Andrew Varick Stout Anthony.

Perkins attended the Brooks School, the Browne & Nichols School, Columbia University ...

33. Ralph Fiennes

Actor | The Grand Budapest Hotel

Actor Ralph Nathaniel Twisleton-Wykeham-Fiennes was born on December 22, 1962 in Suffolk, England, to Jennifer Anne Mary Alleyne (Lash), a novelist, and Mark Fiennes, a photographer. He is the eldest of six children. Four of his siblings are also in the arts: Martha Fiennes, a director; Magnus ...

34. Viggo Mortensen

Actor | Eastern Promises

Since his screen debut as a young Amish farmer in Peter Weir's Witness (1985), Viggo Mortensen's career has been marked by a steady string of well-rounded performances.

Mortensen was born in New York City, to Grace Gamble (Atkinson) and Viggo Peter Mortensen, Sr. His father was Danish, his mother ...

35. Jodie Foster

Actress | The Silence of the Lambs

Jodie Foster was born Alicia Christian Foster on November 19, 1962 in Los Angeles. She is the daughter of Evelyn Ella "Brandy" (Almond), a producer, and Lucius Fisher Foster III, an Air Force lieutenant colonel and real estate broker. Brandy had filed for divorce in 1959 after having three children...



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