Top 15 Male Performances on Screen by Sam

I must say, this has been one of the more tougher lists to compile as there are so many outstanding male performances – of which, even with the research I conducted to shift my memory back through the films I’ve watched over my “not so long” lifespan, there will be many I will have forgotten.

Please bear in mind I have not seen every movie created (so far), and so therefore there may be some people missing from this list that perhaps enrages you at the fact they are not there, and this is simply because I haven’t seen that particular performance.

Additionally, I would like to say that I have combined a few movies (under the same performer), as I cannot set the two apart, and would struggle not to include them in the list.

Enough jibber jabber, let’s get rolling.



15. Don Cheadle – Hotel Rwanda (2004)


Whilst I was aware he was a ‘good’ actor, Don Cheadle really showed that he is great actor with his role in Hotel Rwanda. The emotion that he brought to the plate was incredible.



14. Brad Pitt – Fight Club (1999)

I am a big fan of Brad Pitt, and I would not have said the same thing 2 or 3 years ago. I have watched a lot of his movies of late, and have really appreciated the great acting skills this guy has. Fight Club is a great performance, and he sold his character amazingly.



13. Ryan Gosling – Lars and the Real Girl (2007)


It was only on the off chance that I was able to see this movie, and Gosling delivers a stellar performance as the socially awkward ‘Lars.’ He nailed the emotional aspects of the character and brought all his mannerisms to life.



12. Johnny Depp – The Pirates of the Caribbean (2004)

Johnny Depp is a lot of people’s favourite actors, and it’s because of the way he transforms what we know Mr. Depp’s personality to be like, into these crazy, completely different characters. Depp delivered probably his best character to date as Captain Jack Sparrow in The Pirates of the Caribbean series.



11. Kevin Spacey – The Usual Suspects (1995)

The late 90’s was a brilliant time to see Kevin Spacey at work. Spacey’s work in The Usual Suspects was masterful, and he portrayed the handicapped character of Roger ‘Verbal’ Kint very convincingly.



10. Anthony Hopkins – The Silence of the Lambs (1991)

Sir Anthony Hopkins total amount of screen time in The Silence of the Lambs amounts to roughly 16 minutes, give or take, which therefore makes his performance the shortest amount of screen time to win a Best Actor Oscar at the Academy Awards. Need I say more?



9. Mathieu Amalric – The Diving Bell and the Butterfly (2007)

This is a beautiful film about a man, who has what is referred to as “locked in syndrome,” which is complete paralysation, yet the brain is fully functioning. Mathieu Amalric doesn’t say much for the most part of this film, but nonetheless, he delivers a great performance.



8. Adrien Brody – The Pianist (2002)

Brody delivers a very realistic and frightening portrayal of a Jewish man during World War II. Adrian Brody really made a name for himself in this movie, and proved this by beating 4 other Oscar winners to the Best Actor prize at the 2003 Academy Awards. Not only that, but Brody is the youngest winner of the Oscar too.



7. Edward Norton – Primal Fear (1997)

Edward Norton is a fine actor, and debuted his film career with this film, and as a result of such a convincing portrayal of Aaron Stampler, a young choirboy convicted of murder, his career sky rocketed, and rightly so.



6. Leonardo DiCaprio – The Aviator (2004)/Blood Diamond (2006)


Leonardo DiCaprio is without a doubt one of my favourite actors, as I am convinced he cannot give a bad performance. I couldn’t decide which of his performances were better or more convincing, as both were outstanding, so I put them both in. Give this man an Oscar already.



5. Michael Clarke Duncan – The Green Mile (1999)

Michael Clarke Duncan gave one of the most emotionally driven performances I’ve seen in my life in his portrayal as a convicted death row inmate, John Coffey. His performance garnered him an Oscar nomination for best supporting actor, but in my opinion he should have won.



4. Forest Whitaker – The Last King of Scotland (2006)

I hired The Last King of Scotland on a night that I was bored, and didn’t expect to see a brilliant performance given by the, then relatively unknown to me, Forest Whitaker. He was amazingly convincing as the corrupt dictator, Idi Amin, and deserved his Oscar for Best Actor.



3. Tom Hanks – Philadelphia (1993)/Forrest Gump (1994)

Tom Hanks had an awesome decade and a bit with his film career, starting with Big in 1989 through to his performance in Cast Away in 2000, Hanks garnered 5 Oscar nominations, winning two for his performances in Philidelphia and Forrest Gump. Again, both of these were so great that I had to include them both. Hanks’ performance as a man suffering with AIDS is extremely realistic, and his performance as Forrest Gump, an ordinary man in extraordinary circumstances is brilliant, and proves Hanks is one of the greatest actors of our time.



2. Denzel Washington – Glory (1989)

Hanks’ supporting performer in Philidelphia is Denzel Washington, another one of my favourite actors. Every performance of his is extremely convincing, and I was forced to pick one out of the many I have seen, and just recently I was able to watch the Civil War film, Glory. A magnificent film, and Denzel’s performance is mind blowing. He earned an Oscar win for his performance, and rightly so.



1. Heath Ledger – The Dark Knight (2008)

I can honestly say that I was blown away at the performance Heath Ledger gave as one of Batman’s greatest villains, The Joker. Heath Ledger was no longer Heath Ledger when he stepped into the shoes of The Joker, and at no point was I aware that this was someone “acting” the part of The Joker, it just was The Joker – a rare achievement. It was a big loss to the acting world when Heath died months before The Dark Knights release, as you could tell he was only just beginning what could have been a series of spectacular performances. In his short, but substantial acting career, Heath became a legend of the screen.


So let me know your thoughts, where you disagree, where you agree. I love hearing them.

Over to you.



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3 Comments on “Top 15 Male Performances on Screen by Sam”

  1. Con Says:

    Rodney Dangerfield in Caddyshack.

  2. Karen Says:

    I have a great admiration for Tom Hanks, so would have to agree with you about Philadelphia and Forrest Gump. Bu I also loved him in The Green Mile. And I like Harrison Ford in The Fugitive, Anthony Hopkins in War and Peace and Omar Sharif in Dr Zhivago. Very old movies but great performances from these men, in my book!

    • filmstank Says:

      Very much agree about Tom Hanks in The Green Mile, that’s such a great movie. Those men are definitely – without question – veteran’s of the screen. What do you think about Anthony Hopkins in Silence of the Lambs?

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