My Favorite Performances By Year, 1931 to the present.

by jacobyjhn-18-315763 | created - 15 Apr 2013 | updated - 02 Sep 2018 | Public

This is a list of my favorite performances by year, for each year in descending order, from the present, back through 1931. It is especially rewarding as the acting role is cited irrespective of awards or nominations or even critical recognition, and is further not limited to a category of lead or supporting, male or female, small or large. In this sense, it is extremely liberating to just recall one great, haunting, standout performance for each year, starting with the current year and going back through 1931. The only stress is choosing one of many notable performances. These are my favorites and not meant as a any further commentary aside from what was pleasing to myself. Hopefully, the reader will enjoy! (Still working on the comments section).

1. Casey Affleck

Actor | Gone Baby Gone

An accomplished and striking performer, Academy Award® winner Casey Affleck has established himself as a powerful leading man with performances in multiple projects.

Caleb Casey McGuire Affleck-Boldt was born in Falmouth, Massachusetts. His mother, Chris Anne (née Boldt), is a school teacher, and ...

For: Manchester by the Sea (2016). Brilliant, heartfelt, effective performance.

2. 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, ...

For: Spotlight (2015). Marvelous performance by the talented Mr. Ruffalo.

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 ...

For: Whiplash (2014). Brilliant, raw, crackling, career best performance.

4. Chiwetel Ejiofor

Actor | 12 Years a Slave

English actor, writer and director Chiwetel Ejiofor is renowned for his portrayal of Solomon Northup in 12 Years a Slave (2013), for which he received Academy Award and Golden Globe Award nominations, along with the BAFTA Award for Best Actor. He is also known for playing Okwe in Dirty Pretty Things...

For: Twelve years a Slave (2013). Heartfelt, true, beautifully realized performance.

5. Jason Clarke

Actor | Zero Dark Thirty

Jason Clarke is an Australian actor, known for often being cast in antagonist roles in feature films. In 1969, Clarke was born in Winton, Queensland, a small town where the main industries are sheep and cattle raising. Winton was established as a township in 1879, but its main claim to fame are a ...

For: Zero Dark Thirty. (2012). Frighteningly realistic performance. In a year of remarkable performances, this one stays with me as more effective than I was even remotely expecting.

6. Jessica Chastain

Actress | Zero Dark Thirty

Jessica Michelle Chastain was born in Sacramento, California, and was raised in a middle-class household in a northern California suburb. Her mother, Jerri Chastain, is a vegan chef whose family is originally from Kansas, and her stepfather is a fireman. She discovered dance at the age of nine and ...

For: The Debt (2011). The best and a stand out in an excellent ensemble.

7. Andrew Garfield

Actor | The Social Network

Andrew Russell Garfield was born in Los Angeles, California, to a British mother, Lynn (Hillman), and father, Richard Garfield. When he was three, he moved to Surrey, U.K., with his parents and older brother. He is of English and Polish Jewish heritage. Andrew was raised in a middle class family, ...

For: The Social Network (2010). Andrew, in a break out role, stands out as Eduardo Savarin in the wonderful film from 2010. "You better lawyer-up, Mark, because I'm coming back for all of it."

8. Christoph Waltz

Actor | Django Unchained

Christoph Waltz is an Austrian-German actor. He is known for his work 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 won...

For: Inglorious Basterds (2009). Not a huge Tarantino fan, nevertheless, this actor is wildly effective in this different and entertaining film.

9. Amy Adams

Actress | Arrival

Amy Lou Adams was born in Vicenza, Veneto, Italy, to American parents, Kathryn (Hicken) and Richard Kent Adams, a U.S. serviceman who was stationed at Caserma Ederle in Italy at the time. She was raised in a Mormon family of seven children in Castle Rock, Colorado, and has English, as well as ...

For: Doubt (2008). Amy is tremendous and totally believable in this wonderful look back to 8th grade catholic school, circa 1964.

10. Philip Seymour Hoffman

Actor | The Master

Film and stage actor and theater director Philip Seymour Hoffman was born in the Rochester, New York, suburb of Fairport on July 23, 1967. He was the son of Marilyn (Loucks), a lawyer and judge, and Gordon Stowell Hoffman, a Xerox employee, and was mostly of German, Irish, English and Dutch ...

For: Before the Devil Knows You're Dead. (2007). I watch this movie, Lumet's final effort as director, over and over, and especially the gritty, delicious performance of the talented P.S. Hoffman. A gem and a tour de force by the best actor working today.

11. Cate Blanchett

Actress | Carol

Cate Blanchett was born on May 14, 1969 in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, to June (Gamble), an Australian teacher and property developer, and Robert DeWitt Blanchett, Jr., an American advertising executive, originally from Texas. She has an older brother and a younger sister. When she was ten ...

For: Notes on a Scandal (2006). Another wonderful portrayal by the wonderful Ms. Blanchett. Wonderfully wrought in this intriguing, well acted and well crafted film.

12. Terrence Howard

Actor | Hustle & Flow

Terrence Howard was born in Chicago, Illinois, to Anita Jeanine Williams (née Hawkins) and Tyrone Howard. He was raised in Cleveland, Ohio. His love for acting came naturally, through summers spent with his great-grandmother, New York stage actress Minnie Gentry. He later began his acting career ...

For: Crash (2005). In a film fraught with wonderful performances,and a year that featured bravura acting in Capote and Brokeback, among others, this performance by the soulful Howard is a stand out, haunting and provacative and stays with me indelibly.

13. Cate Blanchett

Actress | Carol

Cate Blanchett was born on May 14, 1969 in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, to June (Gamble), an Australian teacher and property developer, and Robert DeWitt Blanchett, Jr., an American advertising executive, originally from Texas. She has an older brother and a younger sister. When she was ten ...

For: The Aviator (2004). Absolutely delicious as Kate Hepburn in the entertaining Scorsese biopic.

14. Alec Baldwin

Actor | The Departed

Alec Baldwin is the oldest, and best-known, of the four Baldwin brothers in the acting business (the others are Stephen Baldwin, William Baldwin and Daniel Baldwin). Alexander Rae Baldwin III was born on April 3, 1958 in Massapequa, New York, the son of Carol Newcomb (nee Martineau) Baldwin and ...

For: The Cooler (2003). As Shelly, the casino manager, Baldwin is wildly meancing and totally believable in a career best supporting performance.

15. Julianne Moore

Actress | The Kids Are All Right

Julianne Moore was born Julie Anne Smith in Fort Bragg, North Carolina on December 3, 1960, the daughter of Anne (Love), a social worker, and Peter Moore Smith, a paratrooper, colonel, and later military judge. Her mother moved to the U.S. in 1951, from Greenock, Scotland. Her father, from ...

For: The Hours (2002). Ms. Moore is haunting in this moving drama, with a wonderful cast.

16. Tom Wilkinson

Actor | Michael Clayton

Popular British character actor Tom Wilkinson was born in Leeds, West Yorkshire, England, and comes from a long line of urban farmers. He is the son of Marjorie (Percival) and Thomas Wilkinson. Economic hardships forced his family to move to Canada for a few years when Wilkinson was a child; after ...

For: In the Bedroom (2001). One of those performances to be seen and savored many times, Wilkinson is memorable as Dr. Fowler in this wonderful film.

17. Albert Finney

Actor | Erin Brockovich

The son of a Lancashire bookmaker, Albert Finney came to motion pictures via the theatre. In 1956, he won a scholarship to RADA where his fellow alumni included Peter O'Toole and Alan Bates. He joined the Birmingham Repertory where he excelled in plays by William Shakespeare. A member of the Royal ...

For: Erin Brockovich (2000). Finney is one of the best actors alive, and brilliant consistently, he absolutely shines as attorney Ed Masry, elevating the fine fim by Steven Soderberg. A memorable performance.

18. Chloë Sevigny

Actress | Boys Don't Cry

Known in the mid to late nineties for her status as a fashion impresario and "it girl," with over two dozen art house films to her credit, Chloë Sevigny also stands out as one of the most prominent queens of independent cinema.

Originally hailing from Darien, Connecticut, Sevigny attributes weekend ...

For: Boys Don't Cry (1999). One of those performances that stay with me, Ms. Sevigny was wonderfully effective in the film, along side equally excellent turns by the wonderful Hilary Swank and by Peter Saarsgard.

19. Billy Bob Thornton

Actor | Sling Blade

Billy Bob Thornton was born on August 4, 1955 in Hot Springs, Arkansas, to Virginia Roberta (Faulkner), a psychic, and William Raymond (Billy Ray) Thornton, an educator, high school history teacher, and basketball coach (now deceased). He is the older brother of James Donald (Jimmy Don) (born in ...

For: A Simple Plan (1998). Really excellent acting by Thornton in this intriguing, underrated suspense yarn from 1998.

20. Greg Kinnear

Actor | As Good as It Gets

Greg Kinnear was born on June 17, 1963, in Logansport, Indiana, USA to Edward Kinnear, a career diplomat with the US State Department, and Suzanne (nee Buck) Kinnear, a homemaker. He has two brothers -- James, vice president-investments at Wachovia Securities in Arizona who was born in 1957, and ...

For: As Good As it Gets (1997). This movie is my choice for the best film in the great year 1997, and one of the reasons was that Greg Kinnear was so very effective and pleasing as Simon, along side great performances by Nicholson and Hunt.

21. William H. Macy

Actor | Fargo

William H. Macy was born on March 13, 1950 in Miami, Florida, USA as William Hall Macy Jr. He is an actor and writer, known for Fargo (1996), Shameless (2011) and Magnolia (1999). He has been married to Felicity Huffman since September 6, 1997. They have two children.

For: Fargo (1996). Absolutely delicious performance by W.H. Macy in the quirky, entertaining, Coen Bros. classic.

22. Elisabeth Shue

Actress | Leaving Las Vegas

Elisabeth Shue was born in Wilmington, Delaware, to Anne Brewster (Wells), who worked for the Chemical Banking Corporation, and James William Shue, a lawyer and real estate developer. She is of German and English ancestry, including descent from Mayflower passengers. Shue's parents divorced while ...

For: Leaving Las Vegas (1995). Astonishingly good performance by Ms. Shue in the well acted drama.

23. John Turturro

Actor | Barton Fink

Highly talented, lightly built American actor who always looks unsettled and jumpy has become a favourite of cult/arthouse film aficionados with his compelling performances in a broad range of cinematic vehicles.

Turturro was born in Brooklyn, New York, to Italian-American parents, Katherine (...

For: Quiz Show (1994). Really fine entertaining career defining performance by the wonderful Turturro under the deft direction of Robert Redford, along side equally great turns by Ralph Fiennes, Rob Morrow and Paul Scofield.

24. 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 ...

For: Schindler's List (1993). Wow, this magnificent film was even better, given the stunning work by Fiennes, absolutely haunting and memorable.

25. Jack Lemmon

Actor | The Apartment

Jack Lemmon was born in Newton, Massachusetts, to Mildred Lankford Noel and John Uhler Lemmon, Jr., the president of a doughnut company. His ancestry included Irish (from his paternal grandmother) and English. Jack attended Ward Elementary near his Newton, MA home. At age 9 he was sent to Rivers ...

For: Glengarry Glen Ross (1992). Jack is sublime and his talented best in a film filled with memorable performances.

26. Tommy Lee Jones

Actor | The Fugitive

Tommy Lee Jones was born in San Saba, Texas, the son of Lucille Marie (Scott), a police officer and beauty shop owner, and Clyde C. Jones, who worked on oil fields. Tommy himself worked in underwater construction and on an oil rig. He attended St. Mark's School of Texas, a prestigious prep school ...

For: JFK (1991). Jones is a stand out in the 1991 Oliver Stone epic. Wonderful and memorable performance by Tommy Lee Jones.

27. Lorraine Bracco

Actress | Goodfellas

Lorraine was voted the "ugliest girl in the 6th grade" at her Long Island grade school. She moved to France in 1974 where she became a fashion superstar for Jean-Paul Gaultier. Her sister is Elizabeth Bracco. Has two daughters, Stella Keitel by ex-boyfriend Harvey Keitel and Margaux Guerard by ...

For: Goodfellas (1990). Stunning, career best and stand out acting by Ms. Bracco, in one of my favorite films. Along with De Niro, Pesci, Liotta, and Sorvino, one of the greatest single film acting quintets of all time.

28. Andre Braugher

Actor | Homicide: Life on the Street

Andre Braugher was born on July 1, 1962 in Chicago, Illinois, USA as Andre Keith Braugher. He is an actor and producer, known for Homicide: Life on the Street (1993), Frequency (2000) and The Mist (2007). He has been married to Ami Brabson since December 28, 1991. They have three children.

For: Glory (1989). I remember thinking, during my first viewing of this fine film, who is this actor playing Thomas, the friend of the Matt Broderick character. Braugher's fine turn in Glory elevates the film and stays with you, even amongst a cast giving great performances.

29. Sigourney Weaver

Actress | Alien: Resurrection

Sigourney Weaver was born Susan Alexandra Weaver in Leroy Hospital in Manhattan, New York City. Her father, TV producer Sylvester L. Weaver Jr., originally wanted to name her Flavia, because of his passion for Roman history (he had already named her elder brother Trajan). Her mother, Elizabeth ...

For: Working Girl (1988). Wonderfully pleasing performance by the talented Ms. Weaver in this very entertaining Mike Nichols film from 1988.

30. Holly Hunter

Actress | The Piano

Holly Hunter was born in Conyers, Georgia, to Opal Marguerite (Catledge), a homemaker, and Charles Edwin Hunter, a part-time sporting goods company representative and farmer with a 250 acre farm. She is the youngest of seven children. Her parents encouraged her talent at an early age, and her first...

For: Broadcast News (1987). Fabulous work from Ms. Hunter in this wildly entertaining offering from James L. Brooks. Holly was enormously good and effective.

31. Tom Berenger

Actor | Inception

Born in Chicago, Oscar nominee, Golden Globe and Emmy winner Tom Berenger was raised in a working class home as the son of a printer for the Chicago Sun-Times. Tom attended the University of Missouri to study journalism. It was there he first auditioned for a role in "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf...

For: Platoon (1986). Masterful characterization as Sgt. Barnes. This was Berenger's best work and a triumph!

32. William Hickey

Actor | National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation

Son of Edward & Nora Hickey. Best known as the ancient Mafia don in Prizzi's Honor (1985), Hickey had a long, distinguished career in film, television, and the stage. Began career as a child actor on the variety stage. Made Broadway debut as walk-on in George Bernard Shaw's "Saint Joan" (1951 ...

For: Prizzi's Honor (1985). Hickey played Don Corrado Prizzi with a refreshing quirkiness.

33. Eric Roberts

Actor | Head Full of Honey

Roberts is an Academy Award nominee for his role in Runaway Train, and a three-time Golden Globe nominee for Runaway Train, Star 80, and King of the Gypsies.

In addition, Roberts received acclaim at the Sundance Film Festival for his role in A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints and It's My Party. He ...

For: The Pope of Greenwich Village (1984). Outstanding and original performance as dreamer Paulie in underrated drama.

34. Ed Harris

Actor | The Truman Show

By transforming into his characters and pulling the audience in, Ed Harris has earned a reputation as one of the most talented actors of our time.

Ed Harris was born in Tenafly, New Jersey, to Margaret (Sholl), a travel agent, and Robert Lee Harris, a bookstore worker who also sang professionally. ...

For: The Right Stuff (1983). The consummate John Glenn, gung ho Marine pilot astronaut. The entire cast had the right stuff with talented Harris a stand out.

35. Jack Warden

Actor | 12 Angry Men

Jack Warden was born John Warden Lebzelter, Jr. on September 18, 1920 in Newark, New Jersey, to Laura M. (Costello) and John Warden Lebzelter. His father was of German and Irish descent, and his mother was of Irish ancestry. Raised in Louisville, Kentucky, at the age of seventeen, young Jack ...

For: The Verdict (1982). Delicious and pleasing support from the wonderful Jack Warden in a truly great film.

36. Burt Lancaster

Actor | From Here to Eternity

Burt Lancaster, one of five children, was born in Manhattan, to Elizabeth (Roberts) and James Henry Lancaster, a postal worker. All of his grandparents were immigrants from Northern Ireland. He was a tough street kid who took an early interest in gymnastics. He joined the circus as an acrobat and ...

For: Atlantic City (1981). An elder Burt Lancaster should have won best actor for 1981 in a sublimely pleasing performance in this wonderful film.

37. Joe Pesci

Actor | Goodfellas

Compact Italian-American actor Joe Pesci was born February 9, 1943 in Newark, New Jersey, to Mary (Mesce), a part-time barber, and Angelo Pesci, a bartender and forklift driver. Pesci first broke into entertainment as a child actor, and by the mid-1950s, was starring on the series "Star Time Kids"....

For: Raging Bull (1980). Wow. I'm sure I'm not alone, when seeing this remarkable film in 1980 and thinking, who is this guy? An astonishingly great performance.

38. Al Pacino

Actor | Serpico

Alfredo James "Al" 'Pacino established himself as a film actor during one of cinema's most vibrant decades, the 1970s, and has become an enduring and iconic figure in the world of American movies.

He was born April 25, 1940 in Manhattan, New York City, to Italian-American parents, Rose (nee Gerardi)...

For: And Justice for all (1979). The great Al Pacino, totally likeable and wildly effective and pleasing role as humanistic lawyer in a wonderful film.

39. Christopher Walken

Actor | Hairspray

Nervous-looking lead and supporting actor of the American stage and films, with sandy colored hair, pale complexion and a somewhat nervous disposition. He won an Oscar as Best Supporting Actor for his performance in The Deer Hunter (1978), and has been seen in mostly character roles, often ...

For: The Deer Hunter (1978). Provocative, astounding performance as the tragic Nicky.

40. Tuesday Weld

Actress | Once Upon a Time in America

Susan Ker Weld was born on August 27, 1943 (Friday), in New York City. When her father, Lathrop Motley Weld, died three years later at the age of 49, the young girl, whose name by then had somehow been transmogrified into "Tuesday", took over the role of the family breadwinner, which included her ...

For: Looking for Mr. Goodbar (1977). Surprisingly great turn by Ms. Weld in excellent, provocative drama.

41. Ned Beatty

Actor | Network

Stocky, genial-looking supporting actor Ned Beatty was once hailed by Daily Variety as the "busiest actor in Hollywood".

Ned Thomas Beatty was born in Louisville, Kentucky, to Margaret (Fortney) and Charles William Beatty. He grew up fishing and working on farms. His hometown of St. Matthews, ...

For: Network (1976). Probably my favorite scene in all movie history, the Board room scene with wickedly good Beatty preaching the corporate evangel to wide eyed Peter Finch. Wonderful, memorable performance by the always good Ned Beatty.

42. Brad Dourif

Actor | One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest

Gaunt character actor Brad Dourif was born Bradford Claude Dourif on March 18, 1950 in Huntington, West Virginia. He is the son of Joan Mavis Felton (Bradford) and Jean Henri Dourif, a French-born art collector who owned and operated a dye factory. His father died when Dourif was three years old, ...

For: One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. (1975). Fine turn by Dourif in the well acted, wildly entertaining, classic film.

43. Robert De Niro

Actor | Cape Fear

One of the greatest actors of all time, Robert De Niro was born on August 17, 1943 in Manhattan, New York City, to artists Virginia (Admiral) and Robert De Niro Sr. His paternal grandfather was of Italian descent, and his other ancestry is Irish, English, Dutch, German, and French. He was trained ...

For: Godfather, Part II. (1974). Wow! What a great performance by a fairly young and new to movie acting, Robert De Niro as the young Vito Corleone. Much deserved Oscar for supporting actor in this magnificent film.

44. Jason Miller

Actor | The Exorcist

Character actor and playwright Jason Miller had a variety of jobs before he started a writing career and wrote his own play, "That Championship Season", for which he received the Pulitzer Prize Award. Miller gave up his professional writing career in the early seventies to start acting. In 1973, he...

For: The Exorcist (1973). Compelling and beautifully realized portrait of the tortured Priest in this wonderful, suspenseful film.

45. Al Pacino

Actor | Serpico

Alfredo James "Al" 'Pacino established himself as a film actor during one of cinema's most vibrant decades, the 1970s, and has become an enduring and iconic figure in the world of American movies.

He was born April 25, 1940 in Manhattan, New York City, to Italian-American parents, Rose (nee Gerardi)...

For: The Godfather (1972). It does not get much better than a young Al Pacino, who gained the Michael Corleone role at the insistence of Coppola, and made it an iconic portrayal. The metamorphosis of Michael from the baby boy serviceman to The Godfather is brilliant and memorable.

46. Jeff Bridges

Actor | The Big Lebowski

Jeffrey Leon Bridges was born on December 4, 1949 in Los Angeles, California, the son of well-known film and TV star Lloyd Bridges and his long-time wife Dorothy Dean Bridges (née Simpson). He grew up amid the happening Hollywood scene with big brother Beau Bridges. Both boys popped up, without ...

For: The Last Picture Show (1971). The talented Jeff Bridges just shines among the brilliant ensemble in Peter Bogdanovich's iconic masterpiece.

47. Donald Sutherland

Actor | The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

The towering presence of Canadian actor Donald Sutherland is often noticed, as are his legendary contributions to cinema. He has appeared in almost 200 different shows and films. He is also the father of renowned actor Kiefer Sutherland, among others.

Donald McNichol Sutherland was born in Saint ...

For: M.A.S.H. As Hawkeye Pierce, the ultimate maverick, Donald is simply wonderful in the cutting edge entertaining film.

48. Geneviève Bujold

Actress | Dead Ringers

Genevieve Bujold spent her first twelve school years in Montreal's oppressive Hochelaga Convent, where opportunities for self-expression were limited to making welcoming speeches for visiting clerics. As a child she felt "as if I were in a long dark tunnel trying to convince myself that if I could ...

For: Anne of the 1000 Days. (1969). Lovely Ms. Bujold was astonishing and more than equaled her talented acting counterpart, the wonderful Richard Burton. It was the performance of Genevieve that elevated this film to classic.

49. Sidney Blackmer

Actor | Rosemary's Baby

Sidney Blackmer, the Tony-award winning actor who played Teddy Roosevelt in seven movies, is best remembered by today's movie audiences for his turn as the warlock/coven-leader Roman Castevet in Roman Polanski's Rosemary's Baby (1968).

Born and raised in Salisbury, North Carolina, where he made his ...

For: Rosemary's Baby (1968). Veteran Sidney Blackmer was frighteningly menacing in this wonderful classic form Roman Polansky.

50. Katharine Ross

Actress | The Graduate

Katharine Juliet Ross was born on January 29, 1940 in Hollywood, California, to Katharine W. (Hall) and Dudley T. Ross. Her father, who also worked for the Associated Press, was away in the US Navy when she was born. His navy career shuttled the family around to Virginia, then Palo Alto, and ...

For: The Graduate (1967).

51. Paul Scofield

Actor | A Man for All Seasons

Though his number of film roles amount to a bit over 30, Paul Scofield has cast a giant shadow in the world of stage and film acting. He grew up in West Sussex, the son of a schoolmaster. He attended the Varndean School for Boys in Brighton. The love of acting came early. While still high school ...

For: A Man for All Seasons (1966).

52. Tom Courtenay

Actor | 45 Years

Acting chameleon Sir Tom Courtenay, along with Sirs Alan Bates and Albert Finney, became a front-runner in an up-and-coming company of rebel upstarts who created quite a stir in British "kitchen sink" cinema during the early '60s. An undying love for the theatre, however, had Courtenay channeling a...

For: Doctor Zhivago (1965).

53. Peter Sellers

Actor | Being There

Often credited as the greatest comedian of all time, Peter Sellers was born Richard Henry Sellers to a well-off acting family in 1925 in Southsea, a suburb of Portsmouth. He was the son of Agnes Doreen "Peg" (Marks) and William "Bill" Sellers. His parents worked in an acting company run by his ...

For: Dr. Strangelove, (1964).

54. Sidney Poitier

Actor | In the Heat of the Night

A native of Cat Island, The Bahamas (although born, two months prematurely, in Miami during a visit by his parents), Poitier grew up in poverty as the son of farmers Evelyn (nee Outten) and Reginald James Poitier, who also drove a cab. He had little formal education and at the age of 15 was sent to...

For: Lilies of the Field. (1963).

55. Gregory Peck

Actor | To Kill a Mockingbird

Eldred Gregory Peck was born on April 5, 1916 in La Jolla, California, to Bernice Mary (Ayres) and Gregory Pearl Peck, a chemist and druggist in San Diego. He had Irish (from his paternal grandmother), English, and some German, ancestry. His parents divorced when he was five years old. An only ...

For: To Kill a Mockingbird. (1962).

56. George C. Scott

Actor | Patton

George C. Scott was an immensely talented actor, a star of screen, stage and television. He was born on October 18, 1927 in Wise, Virginia, to Helena Agnes (Slemp) and George Dewey Scott. At the age of eight, his mother died, and his father, an executive at Buick, raised him. In 1945, he joined the...

For: The Hustler (1961).

57. Jack Lemmon

Actor | The Apartment

Jack Lemmon was born in Newton, Massachusetts, to Mildred Lankford Noel and John Uhler Lemmon, Jr., the president of a doughnut company. His ancestry included Irish (from his paternal grandmother) and English. Jack attended Ward Elementary near his Newton, MA home. At age 9 he was sent to Rivers ...

For: The Apartment. (1960).

58. Arthur O'Connell

Actor | Anatomy of a Murder

Though veteran character actor Arthur O'Connell was born in New York City in 1908, he looked as countrified as apple pie, looking ever more comfy in overalls than he ever did in a suit. He made his stage debut in the mid 1930s and came into contact with Orson Welles' Mercury Theatre. As a result, ...

For: Anatomy of a Murder (1959).

59. David Niven

Actor | Murder by Death

David Niven was named after the Saint's Day on which he was born, St. David, patron Saint of Wales. He attended Stowe School and Sandhurst Military Academy and served for two years in Malta with the Highland Light Infantry. At the outbreak of World War II, although a top-line star, he re-joined the...

For: Separate Tables (1958).

60. Charles Laughton

Actor | Witness for the Prosecution

Charles Laughton was born in Scarborough, Yorkshire, England, to Eliza (Conlon) and Robert Laughton, hotel keepers of Irish and English descent, respectively. He was educated at Stonyhurst (a highly esteemed Jesuit college in England) and at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (received gold medal). ...

For: Witness for the Prosecution (1957).

61. Yul Brynner

Actor | The Ten Commandments

Exotic leading man of American films, famed as much for his completely bald head as for his performances, Yul Brynner masked much of his life in mystery and outright lies designed to tease people he considered gullible. It was not until the publication of the books "Yul: The Man Who Would Be King" ...

For: The Ten Commandments (1956).

62. Frank Sinatra

Actor | From Here to Eternity

Frank Sinatra was born in Hoboken, New Jersey, to Italian immigrants Natalina Della (Garaventa), from Northern Italy, and Saverio Antonino Martino Sinatra, a Sicilian boxer, fireman, and bar owner. Growing up on the gritty streets of Hoboken made Sinatra determined to work hard to get ahead. ...

For: the Man with the Golden Arm. (1955).

63. Rod Steiger

Actor | In the Heat of the Night

Rodney Stephen Steiger was born in Westhampton, New York, to Augusta Amelia (Driver) and Frederick Jacob Steiger, both vaudevillians. He was of German and Austrian ancestry. After his parents' divorce, Steiger was raised by his mother in Newark, New Jersey. He dropped out of Westside High school at...

For: On the Waterfront (1954).

64. Thelma Ritter

Actress | All About Eve

Thelma Ritter appeared in high school plays and was trained at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts. In the 1940s she worked in radio. Her movie career was started with a bit part in the 1946 Miracle on 34th Street (1947). In the movie she played a weary Xmas shopper. Her performance in the short ...

For: Pick-Up on South Street. (1953).

65. José Ferrer

Actor | Dune

José Ferrer was born on January 8, 1912 in Santurce, Puerto Rico as José Vicente Ferrer de Otero y Cintrón. He was an actor, known for Dune (1984), Cyrano de Bergerac (1950) and Moulin Rouge (1952). He was married to Stella Daphne Magee, Rosemary Clooney, Phyllis Hill and Uta Hagen. He died on ...

For: Moulin Rouge (1952).

66. Fredric March

Actor | The Best Years of Our Lives

Fredric March began a career in banking but in 1920 found himself cast as an extra in films being produced in New York. He starred on the Broadway stage first in 1926 and would return there between screen appearances later on. He won plaudits (and an Academy Award nomination) for his send-up of ...

For: Death of a Salesman (1951).

67. George Sanders

Actor | All About Eve

George Sanders was born of English parents in St. Petersburg, Russia. He worked in a Birmingham textile mill, in the tobacco business and as a writer in advertising. He entered show business in London as a chorus boy, going from there to cabaret, radio and theatrical understudy. His film debut, in ...

For: All about Eve (1950).

68. Ralph Richardson

Actor | Doctor Zhivago

Sir Ralph Richardson was one of the greatest actors of the 20th Century English-language theater, ascending to the height of his profession in the mid-1930s when he became a star in London's West End. He became the first actor of his generation to be knighted. He became Sir Ralph in 1947, and was ...

For: The Heiress (1949).

69. Humphrey Bogart

Actor | Casablanca

Humphrey DeForest Bogart was born in New York City, New York, to Maud Humphrey, a famed magazine illustrator and suffragette, and Belmont DeForest Bogart, a moderately wealthy surgeon (who was secretly addicted to opium). Bogart was educated at Trinity School, NYC, and was sent to Phillips Academy ...

For: Treasure of the Sierra Madre. (1948).

70. Richard Widmark

Actor | The Alamo

Richard Widmark established himself as an icon of American cinema with his debut in the 1947 film noir Kiss of Death (1947) in which he won a Best Supporting Actor Academy Award nomination as the killer "Tommy Udo". Kiss of Death (1947) and other noir thrillers established Widmark as part of a new ...

For: Kiss Of Death (1947).

71. James Stewart

Actor | Anatomy of a Murder

James Maitland Stewart was born on May 20, 1908 in Indiana, Pennsylvania, to Elizabeth Ruth (Johnson) and Alexander Maitland Stewart, who owned a hardware store. He was of Scottish, Ulster-Scots, and some English, descent. Stewart was educated at a local prep school, Mercersburg Academy, where he ...

For: It's a wonderful, Life. (1946).

72. Ray Milland

Actor | The Lost Weekend

Ray Milland became one of Paramount's most bankable and durable stars, under contract from 1934 to 1948, yet little in his early life suggested a career as a motion picture actor.

Milland was born Alfred Reginald Jones in the Welsh town of Neath, Glamorgan, to Elizabeth Annie (Truscott) and Alfred ...

For: Lost Weekend. (1945).

73. Edward G. Robinson

Actor | Key Largo

Emanuel Goldenberg arrived in the United States from Romania at age ten, and his family moved into New York's Lower East Side. He took up acting while attending City College, abandoning plans to become a rabbi or lawyer. The American Academy of Dramatic Arts awarded him a scholarship, and he began ...

For: Double Indemnity (1944).

74. Claude Rains

Actor | Casablanca

William Claude Rains, born in the Clapham area of London, was the son of the British stage actor Frederick Rains. The younger Rains followed, making his stage debut at the age of eleven in "Nell of Old Drury." Growing up in the world of theater, he saw not only acting up close but the down-to-earth...

For: Casablanca (1943).

75. James Cagney

Actor | Angels with Dirty Faces

One of Hollywood's preeminent male stars of all time, James Cagney was also an accomplished dancer and easily played light comedy. James Francis Cagney was born on the Lower East Side of Manhattan in New York City, to Carolyn (Nelson) and James Francis Cagney, Sr., who was a bartender and amateur ...

For: Yankee Doodle Dandy (1942).

76. Sydney Greenstreet

Actor | The Maltese Falcon

Sydney Greenstreet's father was a leather merchant with eight children. Sydney left home at age 18 to make his fortune as a Ceylon tea planter, but drought forced him out of business and back to England. He managed a brewery and, to escape boredom, took acting lessons. His stage debut was as a ...

For: The Maltese Falcon. (1941).

77. Spencer Tracy

Actor | Guess Who's Coming to Dinner

Spencer Tracy was born four years after his brother Carroll to truck salesman John Edward and Caroline Brown Tracy. He attended Marquette Academy along with Pat O'Brien and the two left school to enlist in the Navy at the start of World War I. He was still at Norfolk Navy Yard in Virginia at the ...

For: Edison, the Man (1940).

78. Olivia de Havilland

Actress | The Heiress

Olivia Mary de Havilland was born July 1, 1916, in Tokyo, Japan, to British parents Lilian Augusta (Ruse), a former actress, and Walter Augustus de Havilland, an English professor and patent attorney. Her sister, Joan, later to become famous as Joan Fontaine, was born the following year. Her ...

For: GWTW. (1939).

79. James Cagney

Actor | Angels with Dirty Faces

One of Hollywood's preeminent male stars of all time, James Cagney was also an accomplished dancer and easily played light comedy. James Francis Cagney was born on the Lower East Side of Manhattan in New York City, to Carolyn (Nelson) and James Francis Cagney, Sr., who was a bartender and amateur ...

For: Angels with Dirty Faces (1938).

80. Spencer Tracy

Actor | Guess Who's Coming to Dinner

Spencer Tracy was born four years after his brother Carroll to truck salesman John Edward and Caroline Brown Tracy. He attended Marquette Academy along with Pat O'Brien and the two left school to enlist in the Navy at the start of World War I. He was still at Norfolk Navy Yard in Virginia at the ...

For: Captain's Courageous (1937).

81. Paul Muni

Actor | Scarface: The Shame of the Nation

Paul Muni was born Sept. 22, 1895, in Lemberg, Austro-Hungarian Empire, to Salli and Phillip Weisenfreund, who were both professionals. His family was Jewish, and spoke Yiddish. Paul was educated in New York and Cleveland public schools. He was described as 5 feet 10 inches, with black hair and ...

For: The Story of Louis Pasteur. (1936).

82. Victor McLaglen

Actor | The Quiet Man

Rambunctious British leading man (contrary to popular belief, he was of Scottish ancestry, not Irish) and later character actor primarily in American films, Victor McLaglen was a vital presence in a number of great motion pictures, especially those of director John Ford. McLaglen (pronounced ...

For: The Informer (1935).

83. William Powell

Actor | The Thin Man

William Powell was on the New York stage by 1912, but it would be ten years before his film career would begin. In 1924 he went to Paramount Pictures, where he was employed for the next seven years. During that time, he played in a number of interesting films, but stardom was elusive. He did ...

For: The Thin Man (1934).

84. Paul Muni

Actor | Scarface: The Shame of the Nation

Paul Muni was born Sept. 22, 1895, in Lemberg, Austro-Hungarian Empire, to Salli and Phillip Weisenfreund, who were both professionals. His family was Jewish, and spoke Yiddish. Paul was educated in New York and Cleveland public schools. He was described as 5 feet 10 inches, with black hair and ...

For: I Am a Fugitive From a Chain Gang (1933).

85. Wallace Beery

Actor | Dinner at Eight

In 1902, 16-year-old Wallace Beery joined the Ringling Brothers Circus as an assistant to the elephant trainer. He left two years later after a leopard clawed his arm. Beery next went to New York, where he found work in musical variety shows. He became a leading man in musicals and appeared on ...

For: The Champ (1932).

86. Lionel Barrymore

Actor | Key Largo

Famed actor, composer, artist, author and director. His talents extended to the authoring of the novel "Mr. Cartonwine: A Moral Tale" as well as his autobiography. In 1944, he joined ASCAP, and composed "Russian Dances", "Partita", "Ballet Viennois", "The Woodman and the Elves", "Behind the Horizon...

For: A Free Soul (1931).

87. Gary Oldman

Actor | Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy

Gary Oldman is a talented English movie star and character actor, renowned for his expressive acting style. One of the most celebrated thespians of his generation, with a diverse career encompassing theatre, film and television, he is known for his roles as Sid Vicious in Sid and Nancy (1986), ...



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