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Your favorite modern actors


Don’t think we’ve ever asked this before. Simple question, complicated answer maybe. Who are your top 5 actors or actresses? And why?

I’ll start.

The Rock - I don’t think anyone has more charisma than him. I wish he’d had better movies, but he was must watch TV when he was in the WWE. He seems like a really great guy. Favorite role: Himself.

Sylvester Stallone - I admire that he was successful when everything was against him. What he did with Rocky was extraordinary, I don’t know if it’s ever been repeated. I kind of feel bad because I think he is a good actor who just never got good parts outside of Rocky (and a couple of other movies) but he knows how to make fun of himself. He’s had a hard life but keeps going and seems to be a positive influence. Favorite role: Rocky.

Brad Pitt - I like that he’s made different movie choices instead of going the safe lazy route. He could have just Tom Cruised it up and did one blockbuster a year, but he went a different path from a young age. Dude was Benjamin Button, that’s as odd as it gets. Favorite role: Snatch.

Ewan McGregor - I don’t know why I like him so much, I can’t think of any recent movie where he’s made an impression. But he feels more like a regular guy than pretty much any movie star I can think of. I think he can act like crazy but he’s picked horrible scripts. Favorite role: Hard to pick, for now it’s A Life Less Ordinary.

Sandra Bullock - I think she’s a better actress than most people give her credit for. In particular though 'd glad she found a place in comedies where she’s maybe one of the best on the planet and you’d wouldn’t have though that given she’s not from stand up comedy. Favorite Role: The Proposal.


Modern actors?

Sam Rockwell’s someone I always look out for - he was the highlight in IM2. Choke was well done. And Moon was great. I’d love to see him do much more. Even TV work.

Vince Vaughn - I might be one of a handful of people who didn’t hate True Detective Season 2, and even rarer thought that Vaughn was good in it. I think there’s more to him than stupid comedies - I’d like to see him in more darker roles.

Nic Cage - I know he’s an internet joke now, but the man can act and he often puts way more effort into performances than some poor scripts deserve.


Nicolas Cage As far as careers go, his is to be admired. He takes weird roles, throws himself into them feet first, and is completely fearless. I wish he’d inch back into more prestigous roles the way Matthew McConaughey did, but it won’t happen, and that’s OK. Favorite role: Con Air.

Seth Rogen I know, people think he just plays the schlubby stoner guy, and he does that a lot, but I like him in pretty much everything and think he’s really underrated as an actor. I’m not sure why Jonah Hill gets all these parts and Oscar noms and he doesn’t, unless he just doesn’t want to or his agent isn’t as good. Favorite role: Observe and Report.

John C. Reilly Another guy I’ll see in anything. He’s good at drama but kills me in comedy, maybe I’m easy. Favorite role: Boogie Nights.

Mark Ruffallo and Brendan Gleeson The two best pure actors currently working, for my money. Who could argue this? Watch them in anything—they just are.

No POC which is bad of me, but they get shit roles don’t they? I think Chadwick Boseman is going to be a superstar after Black Panther and he deserves it, he’s been incredible in everything so far. Don Cheadle’s career has gotten a bit wobbly but I hope the Miles Davis role gets him back on track. And Craig Robinson is great.

For women I’d go with Emily Blunt, Kristen Dunst, Viola Davis, Carey Mulligan, Naomi Watts


The actors I’m most frequently impressed by these days:

Michael Fassbender - Favorite role: Shame.
Brendan Gleeson - Favorite role: Calvary.
Oscar Isaac - Favorite role: Ex Machina or Inside Llewyn Davis.
Tom Hardy - Favorite role: The Drop.
Tatiana Maslany - I’ve only seen her on Orphan Black but in that she plays, what, 8 distinct people? An incredible actress, probably the best actor on TV currently.

All of them are chameleons. Their entire body language changes when inhabiting a role. They make real people on screen, rather than winning us over on star power alone (which takes talent, don’t get me wrong, but is less impressive, imo). They all have a natural charisma and are able to reshape it to each role.


Will Smith is not happy


People I know will always deliver a great performance include;

Brendan Gleeson, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Jodie Foster, John Hurt, Anne Hathaway, Jamie Foxx, Sam Rockwell, Imelda Staunton, Alfre Woodard. Oscar Isaac, Judy Greer, Michael Fassbender, Morgan Freeman, Allison Janney, John Turturro, Viola Davis, Julia Roberts and lots more.

I haven’t seen everything they’ve done. I wouldn’t like all their movies but I know they’re going to do a very good job as the character, whoever that character is.

Phillip Seymour Hoffman was another one. Never a false note, whoever he was being.


I liked Foxx up until Spider-man… but he was weird in that.

Out of your list, I’d name Ejiofor, Hathaway, Isaac and Fassbender as actors who are amazing now, and only getting better; likely destined for legendary status. I’d be tempted to add Emma Watson to the conversation.

Two actors I’ve made sure to take note of are Alicia Vikander - who had an amazing year last year; and the ever popular “guy from sherlock” who I saw last night in Black Mass and was impressed by the subtelty of his performance. Juxtaposed with his potrayals of Turing and Assange, and I’d say he’s got quite an impressive range.

Speaking of Black Mass - Joel Edgerton is a solid actor, but I’ve never seen him play a role outside of a character quietly burning up inside. He does that well, but I’d like to see him do something else.

I’m curious to see how Don Cheadle’s passion project works out. Allegedly it was on the negotiating with Marvel when he took the War Machine rule, although it seems to have been funded independently, so who knows.

Cheadle’s a great actor though, and I’m keen to see him in a role he adores, like in Hotel Rwanda.


Vikander was very good, she’s one to watch.

I forgot Paul Giamatti, another actor who never phones anything in.


I’m not sure I can think of five right now, but here goes.

Nic Cage - He’s done so many great performances that when you happen to see one in a good film (see Bad Lieutenant or Joe for recent examples) it’s great. Sure he does a million movies a year, all of varying quality, but his Academy Award and the list of big name directors he’s worked with (Ridley Scott, Scorsese, Bay, Coppola, Woo, Herzog, De Palma) should speak for themselves.

Marion Cotillard - I haven’t seen that many of her movies I must admit, but she was in Macbeth this year and I thought she was completely magnetic. I can’t believe that film was completely overlooked by the Academy. The way she played the character was so different to how I’d had her in my head, but I thought this was much better. It was astonishing.

Sam Jackson - Say what you will about him just playing one role these days (seemingly Nick Fury), but I’d say he’s been disproving that with stuff like Kingsman, Django Unchained and The Hateful Eight. He’s more versatile than people give him credit for, and really is there anybody who can better perform a monologue than this guy?

I agree about Mark Ruffalo for sure. I think I’d say Jake Gyllenhaal too, who’s been showing a crazy range from Prisoners to Enemy to Nightcrawler to Southpaw. Surely it’s just a matter of time before he gets his Academy Award?


What I’ve learnt from this is that - 1) There’s actors who I would watch in anything, simply because they’re in it, and - 2) There’s actors I think are truly great talents, (sometimes incredibly overlooked) who can play characters pretty seamlessly.

The first one probably doesn’t need explanation as they’re big stars, Denzil Washington, Matt Damon, Brad Pitt, Matthew McConaughey, Liam Neesons.

My favourite actors in terms of talent, though, are -

1. Hands down, the best female actor working today. 10 characters she plays in Orphan Black (as well as the voice of a scorpion), and the differences in portrayal between them is staggering.

2. Brian Cranston - Don’t need an IMDB page for this guy. Or an explanation.

3. An outstanding actor who’s so overlooked, it beggars belief. I first saw him in Basquiat which he was fantastic in and I honestly think that this is a case where colour did play a part in someone not being offered the roles he should have been, following that performance alone.

4. Went with his mate to a casting and ended up being cast himself. He should be in everything.

5. If he’d have went through ‘windy city’ improv circles, he’d be one of the world’s best loved comedy actors, not just loved here in the UK. Like most comedy actors, he’s fantastic at ‘straight’ acting too, and it’s a great pity he’s not on US TV screens in serious roles.

Bonus - Should definitely be playing Jesse Custer instead of Tony Stark’s dad.


He’s up there too, he was amazing in “Show me a hero”, really channelling a young Pacino… but that vein/crease in the middle of his forehead was really distracting.

Similarly, Cotilliard’s forehead mole/bump.


I haven’t seen everything with these actors in it but here is my list.

  1. Ben Affleck - Affleck can act in anything. He got his start in gen-x, slacker comedies (Chasing Amy, Dogma); he’s done serious, heartfelt, Oscar-worthy roles (Good Will Hunting, Hollywoodland, Argo, Gone Girl) and played action heroes (Daredevil, soon to be Batman v Superman). He’s also a pretty great director and seems to be an all around nice guy Favorite role: Chasing Amy

  2. Hugh Jackman - Jackman just inhabited Wolverine. Since then, he’s only gotten better with films like The Prestige and The Fountain. He has an amazing voice which made me love Les Miserables. He can also elevate less than interesting films like Swordfish and Real Steel into enjoyable experiences. I think he’s just at the beginning of his career. He really seems to have a heart of gold under that ripped exterior. Favorite role: X2

  3. Chris Hemsworth - Hemsworth is another one of those guys that I think is just starting to warm up. Like Jackman with Wolverine, he just makes Thor come alive. He was just stellar as James Hunt in Rush. Favorite role: Rush

  4. Russell Crowe - Crowe is another one that just seems to be a great combination of thespian and action star. Films like Proof and A Beautiful Mind have stunning performances while The Quick and the Dead, Gladiator and Noah blend character acting with huge action. His brief stint as Jor-El in Man of Steel was even pretty amazing. He definitely inhabited the role better than Brando. Favorite role: Gladiator

  5. Ewan McGregor - I love McGregors early UK material like Shallow Grave and Trainspotting. I don’t think I was ever more pumped for casting than when he was announced for Star Wars. I thought he did a great job and that film but never really got a chance to fully shine. He’s another one that has a great voice and proved it in Moulin Rouge!. My brother-in-law teased me about the nature of his and Kidman’s relationship in the film due to the song Sheena and I played for the first dance at our wedding. He is also in two films that are that made me like directors I don’t usually care for, Big Fish and The Island. Favorite role: Moulin Rouge!

Sorry mine are all white dudes. It doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy some female and minority actors/actresses. These just seemed to be the ones that came to mind. It’s oddly weighted towards Australians too. Will Smith and Tom Cruise would have been on there in years past but I haven’t been drawn to some of their recent output.


And three Aussies (yeah, we’ll still claim Crowe)!


I’m not sure why it fell out that way. I’ve honestly never seen Romper Stompers either which I hear was a huge role for him.


Hemsworth seems to have great comedic timing, I’d like to see him in a role that lets him play that up a bit more.

Crowe’s actually a Kiwi, but until he unleashes a drunken, racist tirade we’ll claim him as ours.

Jackman’s almost infuriatingly nice-seeming as a person on top of his solid acting and singing and dancing ability.

My fave actors are Pacino and DeNiro but both have signed up for garbage roles or garbage films for the most part over the last 15 years.


Oops. Shit. I totally didn’t realize that. Didn’t he make his name in Australian cinema?

He just seems incredible. I think he still has a long career ahead of him even after his body can no longer handle the insane diet/exercise regime that Wolverine requires. It was such a contrast to see him against Crowe in Les Miserable. Crowe is a great actor but struggles with his singing. My wife says he tries to push his chest register too hard and the part would have sounded odd in head register (falsetto).


I’m looking forward to seeing him in the Annie Potts role in the Ghostbusters reboot.


You can see that in all of his Marvel movies. He is so goofy in some scenes.


I wasn’t initially interested in that movie, less because of the gender flip controversy and more because I didn’t see the need for a new Ghostbusters, but I really like a lot of the actresses/actors involved. I may end up giving it a shot.


There was no need for a new Star Wars either, I don’t see why Ghostbusters would be different.