Greatest Acting Performances (Male and Female)

I have been on an acting binge lately and have determined to publicize a list of the greatest acting performances of all time; this is conjunction with my current two-part series on acting that can be found in my pages, as well as my earlier list of my favorite actors.  I’m sure a list of my favorite actresses will come next.  With this list, I see little to no necessity to divide based on gender or—worse yet—to divide into four, first by gender then again by the ever-present lead-role/supporting-role dynamic.  So, I have made a list wherein all acting performances that I personally have witnessed (irregardless of gender or prevalence in the film) are given equal footing and wherein only the best are counted.  The selection of number one, I know, is bold.  But I dare anyone to see this person in this movie and tell me that I’m wrong.  Of course, I think I’m right.  It’s my opinion.

The reason, I think, people don’t put men and women together in these races is that history is against women naturally considering the famine that surrounds lead female roles in movies.  With that consideration in mind, however, I think the women represent themselves pretty well in my list: they make up 36% of it, including the top spot.

  1. Maria Falconetti—The Passion of Joan of Arc
  2. Peter O’Toole—Lawrence of Arabia
  3. Klaus Kinski—Aguirre: The Wrath of God
  4. Bibi Andersson—Persona
  5. Robert DeNiro—Raging Bull
  6. Marlon Brando—On the Waterfront
  7. Meryl Streep –Sophie’s Choice
  8. Alec Guinness—The Bridge on the River Kwai
  9. Anthony Hopkins—The Silence of the Lambs
  10. Peter Sellers—Dr. Strangelove: or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb
  11. Gloria Swanson—Sunset Boulevard
  12. Bette Davis—All About Eve
  13. Laurence Olivier—Hamlet
  14. George C. Scott—Patton
  15. Marlon Brando—The Godfather
  16. Cate Blanchett—Blue Jasmine
  17. Enzo Staiola—The Bicycle Thief
  18. Katharine Hepburn—The African Queen
  19. John Wayne—The Searchers
  20. Orson Welles—Citizen Kane
  21. James Stewart—It’s A Wonderful Life
  22. Setsuko Hara—Tokyo Story
  23. Anna Magnani—Rome, Open City
  24. Takashi Shimura—Ikiru
  25. Paul Newman—The Hustler
  26. Charlie Chaplin—City Lights
  27. Daniel Day-Lewis—There Will Be Blood
  28. Peter Finch—Network
  29. Al Pacino—The Godfather Part II
  30. Robert Mitchum—The Night of the Hunter
  31. Emil Jannings—The Last Laugh
  32. Dustin Hoffman—Midnight Cowboy
  33. James Stewart—Mr. Smith Goes to Washington
  34. Bette Davis—Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?
  35. Karuna Banerjee—Aparajito
  36. Peter Lorre—M
  37. Charles Laughton—Witness for the Prosecution
  38. Marcello Mastroianni—La Dolce Vita
  39. Moira Shearer—The Red Shoes
  40. Lillian Gish—Broken Blossoms, or the Yellow Man and the Girl
  41. Charlie Chaplin—The Great Dictator
  42. James Stewart—Vertigo
  43. George O’Brien—Sunrise
  44. Lamberto Maggiorani—The Bicycle Thief
  45. Humphrey Bogart—The Treasure of the Sierra Madre
  46. Ralph Fiennes—Schindler’s List
  47. Robert DeNiro—Taxi Driver
  48. Jean Gabin—La bête humaine
  49. Rosalind Russell—His Girl Friday
  50. Peter O’Toole—The Ruling Class
  51. Ingrid Bergman—Notorious
  52. Humphrey Bogart—Casablanca
  53. Anthony Perkins—Psycho
  54. Alec Guiness—Kind Hearts and Coronets
  55. Gong Li—To Live
  56. Johnny Depp—Pirate of the Carribean: The Curse of the Black Pearl
  57. Ingrid Bergman—Casablanca
  58. Claude Laydu—Diary of a Country Priest
  59. Arletty—Children of Paradise
  60. Laurence Olivier—Wuthering Heights
  61. Isabella Rossellini—Blue Velvet
  62. Maria Casares—Children of Paradise
  63. Katharine Hepburn—The Lion in Winter
  64. Giulietta Masina—Nights of Cabiria
  65. Victor Sjöström—Wild Strawberries
  66. Ingrid Thulin—Winter Light
  67. Barbara Stanwyck—Double Indemnity
  68. James Dean—Rebel without a Cause
  69. Vivien Leigh—Gone With the Wind
  70. Laurence Olivier—Richard III
  71. Katharine Hepburn—The Philadelphia Story
  72. Elizabeth Taylor—Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
  73. Phillip Noiret—Cinema Paradiso
  74. Dita Parlo—L’Atalante
  75. Walter Brennan—Rio Bravo
  76. Bette Davis—Jezebel
  77. Buster Keaton—The General
  78. Takashi Shimura—Rashomon
  79. Jean-Pierre Léaud—The 400 Blows
  80. Gary Cooper—The Pride of the Yankees
  81. Humphrey Bogart—In a Lonely Place
  82. Teresa Wright—The Men
  83. Gene Wilder—Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory
  84. Heath Ledger—The Dark Knight
  85. John Wayne—The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance
  86. Agnes Moorehead—The Magnificent Ambersons
  87. Marlene Dietrich—Witness for the Prosecution
  88. Orson Welles—The Third Man
  89. Michel Simon—Boudu Saved from Drowning
  90. Sylvester Stallone—Rocky
  91. Tom Hanks—Saving Private Ryan
  92. Arletty—Le jour se leve
  93. Monica Vitti–-L’eclisse
  94. Peter O’Toole—Becket
  95. Gregory Peck—To Kill a Mockingbird
  96. Chishû Ryû—There Was a Father

  97. Irène Jacob—The Double Life of Véronique

  98. Jean Gabin—Le jour se leve

  99. Michel Simon—L’Atalante

  100. Audrey Hepburn—My Fair Lady
  101. Gunnar Björnstrand—Winter Light
  102. Charles Laughton—The Private Life of King Henry VIII
  103. Cary Grant—Bringing Up Baby
  104. Jean-Paul Belmondo—Breathless
  105. Jack Lemmon—The Apartment
  106. Tom Hanks—Philadelphia
  107. Frances McDormand—Fargo
  108. Harrison Ford—Star Wars
  109. Paul Newman—Cat on a Hot Tin Roof
  110. Josephine Hull—Harvey
  111. Charles Laughton—Mutiny on the Bounty
  112. Harriet Andersson—Through a Glass Darkly
  113. Jacques Tati—Mr. Hulot’s Holiday
  114. Groucho Marx—Duck Soup
  115. Clark Gable—Mutiny on the Bounty
  116. Robert Mitchum—Out of the Past
  117. Lauren Bacall—The Big Sleep
  118. Diane Keaton—Annie Hall
  119. Debbie Reynolds—Singin’ in the Rain
  120. Judy Garland—A Star is Born
  121. Richard Harris—This Sporting Life
  122. Greta Garbo—Grand Hotel
  123. Shirley MacLaine—The Apartment
  124. Dustin Hoffman—Kramer vs. Kramer
  125. Marilyn Monroe—Bus Stop
  126. Danielle Darrieaux—The Earrings of Madame de…
  127. Marcello Mastroianni—8 ½
  128. Juliette Binoche—Three Colors: Blue
  129. Rosell Zeche—Veronica Voss
  130. Kathy Bates—Misery
  131. Toshiro Mifune—Yojimbo
  132. Gene Hackman—The Conversation
  133. Richard Burton—Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
  134. George C. Scott—Dr. Strangelove: or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb
  135. Toshiro Mifune—High and Low
  136. Jack Lemmon—Some Like It Hot
  137. Donna Reed—From Here to Eternity
  138. F. Murray Abraham—Amadeus
  139. Joan Fontaine—Letter from an Unknown Woman
  140. Judith Anderson—Rebecca
  141. Rex Harrison—My Fair Lady
  142. Gene Kelly—An American in Paris
  143. Val Kilmer—Tombstone
  144. Jean Gabin—Grand Illusion
  145. Audrey Hepburn—Breakfast at Tiffany’s
  146. Takashi Shimura—Seven Samurai
  147. Lee J. Cobb—12 Angry Men
  148. Jack Nicholson—Chinatown
  149. Claude Rains—Notorious
  150. Jodie Foster—Taxi Driver
  151. Faye Dunaway—Chinatown
  152. Clark Gable—Gone With the Wind
  153. James Stewart—Harvey
  154. Christopher Walken—The Deer Hunter
  155. Marlon Brando—The Men
  156. Kenneth Branagh—Henry V
  157. Ingrid Bergman—Gaslight
  158. Faye Dunaway—Network
  159. Montgomery Clift—A Place in the Sun
  160. Dustin Hoffman—Rain Man
  161. Robert Duvall—Apocalypse Now
  162. Kim Novak—Vertigo
  163. Greta Garbo—Ninotchka
  164. Henry Fonda—The Grapes of Wrath
  165. Celia Johnson—Brief Encounter
  166. Kurt Douglas—Paths of Glory
  167. Marcel Dalio—The Rules of the Game
  168. Tony Curtis—Sweet Smell of Success
  169. Jack Nicholson—One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest
  170. Errol Flynn—The Adventures of Robin Hood
  171. Robin Williams—Good Morning, Vietnam
  172. Spencer Tracy—Boy’s Town
  173. Barbara Stanwyck—The Lady Eve
  174. Louise Brooks—Pandora’s Box
  175. Omar Sharif—Doctor Zhivago
  176. Clark Gable—It Happened One Night
  177. Woody Allen—Manhattan
  178. Peter Sellers—Being There
  179. Anthony Quinn—La Strada
  180. Catherine Deneuve—Belle de Jour
  181. Christian Bale—Empire of the Sun
  182. Ingrid Thulin—Cries and Whispers
  183. Johnny Depp—Ed Wood
  184. Richard Harris—A Man Called Horse
  185. Olivia de Havilland—Gone with the Wind
  186. Robert Mitchum—Cape Fear
  187. Tom Hanks—Cast Away
  188. Javier Bardem—No Country for Old Men
  189. John Wayne—True Grit
  190. Carlheinz Böhm—Peeping Tom
  191. Corinne Marchand—Cléo from 5 to 7
  192. Buster Keaton—Sherlock, Jr.
  193. Catharine Deneuve—Repulsion
  194. Hanna Schygulla—The Marriage of Maria Braun
  195. Paulette Goddard—Modern Times
  196. Michael Keaton—Birdman or (the Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)
  197. Bela Lugosi—Dracula
  198. Charles Laughton—The Hunchback of Notre Dame
  199. Claudette Colbert—It Happened One Night
  200. Jean Renoir—The Rules of the Game
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One thought on “Greatest Acting Performances (Male and Female)

  1. Pingback: Gene Wilder (1933-2016) | A Slice of Cake

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