Best Actor #10: Ben Kingsley
The two movies where I thought he had outstanding performances in were Gandhi and Schindler's List. Both movies were outstanding and his performances in them were memorable and moving. Gandhi is one of my all time favorite movies and his performance is so believable, you feel like you are watching Gandhi himself. His performance (along with the movie Amadeus) fueled my love of history which continues to this day.
Best Actor #9: Tom Hanks
He has had an impressive career and an incredible rise from silly TV sitcom actor to academy award winner. I started watching Tom Hanks back in his Bosom Buddies days and through his Oscar winning years. My favorite Tom Hanks performances are in Forrest Gump, Big, The Terminal and Green Mile. He's an impressive actor who can switch between comedy and drama with incredible ease.
Best Actor #8: Peter O'Toole
I took an interest in movies that were both historical and had stage versions and the best actor I saw in these was Peter O'Toole. I saw him in "Lion in Winter", "Man of La Mancha" and "Becket" and was impressed every time. These are all great scripts and he did an amazing job bringing these incredible characters to life. He's an actor who commands our attention when he is on screen and becomes the character, making iconic roles like Don Quixote his own.
Best Actor #7: Charlie Chaplin
This early actor has stood the test of time for me. I find his work to be worthy of study even to this day. I always enjoyed his work but was most impressed by "The Great Dictator" which is a powerful comedy that takes on one of the most powerful leaders of the day (Hitler). He used comedy to make commentaries about the social and moral climate of the world at the time in movies like "Modern Times." And some of his work is just plain fun like the "Gold Rush."
Best Actor #6: Harrison Ford
This is an actor who originally was on my Most Entertaining Actor list but I moved him to this list because of some of his powerful performances. He is an actor who has fun performances in Star Wars and Indiana Jones which have become iconic. But he also has proven he has the ability to do more dramatic roles in movies like "Witness" and "Regarding Henry." He has been one of my favorite actors for many years and his ability to create characters that are well known and memorable makes him worthy of this top 10 best actor list.
Best Actor #5: Kevin Kline
It appears that a lot of actors on my list have the ability to do both comedy and drama. That is a good quality in an actor... someone who can make us laugh and drive us to tears. Kevin Kline is another impressive actor who can be hilarious in movies like "A Fish Called Wanda" which earned him an Academy Award. But he can also be a powerful dramatic actor as well in movies like "Cry Freedom." I also really enjoyed him in "Soapdish" which featured his comedy abilities and "Dave" which showed a wide range for the actor.
Best Actor #4: Jeff Bridges
The first time I was impressed by Jeff Bridges was in "Fisher King". He created a character we disliked at first then cared about. He was an actor I already liked from his early days in "Tron" but "Fisher King" showed his greatness as an actor. I hadn't watched "Starman" until much later but that was an earlier work that showed his ability to create a strong character. And the moment when I knew he was one of the greatest actors of all time was his incredible performance in "True Grit" where he blew me away and totally outdid the legend John Wayne. I'm not always fond of Westerns or remakes, but Jeff Bridges performance in "True Grit" helped me to enjoy both.
Best Actor #3: Denzel Washington
This is an actor who first got my attention when I saw him in the movie "Glory" and he has been impressing me ever since. He has incredible screen presence and always has the audience's undivided attention when he is on the screen. He proved he could cross racial lines and take on roles that were not specifically for a certain race. I really was impressed by his performances in "Cry Freedom" and "Malcolm X" but also liked his work in "Book of Eli" which could have been a mediocre movie if it hadn't been for his powerful performance which gave the movie dignity over other post-apocalyptic fare. Denzel continues to impress me including his recent role in “The Magnificent Seven.” Hmmm… maybe I like Westerns and remakes after all.
Best Actor #2: Robin Williams
When I look at his career, he has some pretty amazing performances. He may have started out in a goofy TV role as Mork the alien but he quickly showed he had the ability to do serious work in movies like "The World According to Garp." I was really impressed with his ability to mix comedy with drama in movies like "Dead Poet's Society" which is a movie that inspired me to be a teacher. And he showed an incredible ability to add comedy to a tough subject in "Good Morning Vietnam" where he supposedly did improv in much of the movie. And he even crossed gender lines in the comedy "Mrs. Doubtfire" creating a very memorable character. And one of my favorite movies of all time is "The Fisher King" which he does an amazing job with a character that struggles with his sanity. It is a very moving performance where you gain a lot of sympathy for his character and want to see him find his happy ending.
Best Actor #1: Dustin Hoffman
I have been enjoying Dustin Hoffman for many years and he continues to impress me every time I see one of his movies. "Tootsie" was probably the first time I saw him and I was blown away. It's always tricky when someone crosses gender lines but Dustin Hoffman pulls it off incredibly to create a believable female version of himself. He is not an actor you'd expect to be able to look different enough to appear female but he manages to pull it off. I saw him in "Death of a Salesman" where he successfully pulls off the iconic theatre role of Willy Loman, a much older character. And he continued to blow me away with his autistic character in "Rainman." Then just when I thought he was done doing new and interesting roles, he played Captain Hook (in "Hook"). He was the last actor I expected to play this cartoony character but managed to pull it off and even perform better in this silly movie than Robin Williams and Julia Roberts (two fellow Academy Award winners). Recently I saw one of his older movies, Krammer vs. Krammer, and was blown away once again. He has so many great performances and is worthy of being number one on my list of best actors.