Popular Opinion The Best Actors in Film History  

Ranker Community
Originally by Ranker Community
1.4M votes 81.9k voters 1.2M views 998 items

List Rules Male actors only! Vote based on each actor's FILM career only.

The best actors ever are ranked here in this list of the best actors in film history. These are the greatest actors ever to appear on the silver screen - male only (to vote on both genders, check out this list of the greatest film actors and actresses). These gentlemen were part of some of the greatest movies of all time (or were perhaps the reason they were the best movies ever), with countless Academy Awards between them.

What are the qualities of the best actors of all time? Is it the raw emotion they show, the parts they choose, their acting methods, or simply their effortless charm and charisma? There's no denying some of these amazing actors belong on the list of the hottest male celebrities, but behind the 1000 watt smiles lies the talent that defines generations of actors.

Who is the best actor of all time? Is it a classic actor like Marlon Brando, a comedic genius like Charlie Chaplin, a double-threat like Clint Eastwood, or a method actor like Daniel Day Lewis? There are so many choices for the greatest movie actor ever that you may have a hard time choosing just one (although you can vote for as many of the actors on this list of the greatest actors ever as you'd like). If your favorite leading man isn't on the list, make sure to add him so others can vote for him to receive the title of best actor in film history.
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51
3,212 1,788
Jack Lemmon is listed (or ranked) 51 on the list The Best Actors in Film History
Jack Lemmon JFK, Some Like It Hot, The Apartment See The Best Jack Lemmon Movies

52
3,729 2,120
Robert Redford is listed (or ranked) 52 on the list The Best Actors in Film History
Robert Redford Captain America: The Winter Soldier, The Sting, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid See The Best Robert Redford Movies

53
4,022 3,515
Sean Penn is listed (or ranked) 53 on the list The Best Actors in Film History
Sean Penn Fast Times at Ridgemont High, Being John Malkovich, Mystic River

See: The Best Sean Penn Movies

54
3,473 1,941
Donald Sutherland is listed (or ranked) 54 on the list The Best Actors in Film History
Donald Sutherland The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 1, National Lampoon's Animal House See The Best Donald Sutherland Movies

55
3,841 1,985
Steve McQueen is listed (or ranked) 55 on the list The Best Actors in Film History
Steve McQueen The Great Escape, The Magnificent Seven, Bullitt See The Best Steve McQueen Movies

56
3,220 1,992
Alec Guinness is listed (or ranked) 56 on the list The Best Actors in Film History
Alec Guinness Star Wars, Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back, Return of the Jedi See The Best Alec Guinness Movies

57
3,344 2,344
Charlton Heston is listed (or ranked) 57 on the list The Best Actors in Film History
Charlton Heston Hercules, Planet of the Apes, Ben-Hur See The Best Charlton Heston Movies

58
3,704 2,033
Bill Murray is listed (or ranked) 58 on the list The Best Actors in Film History
Bill Murray Ghostbusters, Groundhog Day, Caddyshack

59
4,065 1,974
Hugh Jackman is listed (or ranked) 59 on the list The Best Actors in Film History
Hugh Jackman X-Men, X-Men: First Class, X-Men: The Last Stand

60
4,262 2,421
John Wayne is listed (or ranked) 60 on the list The Best Actors in Film History
daker added John Wayne The Searchers, The Longest Day, Stagecoach See The Best John Wayne Movies

61
3,328 1,842
Steve Buscemi is listed (or ranked) 61 on the list The Best Actors in Film History
Steve Buscemi Pulp Fiction, Reservoir Dogs, The Big Lebowski

62
3,014 1,630
Clark Gable is listed (or ranked) 62 on the list The Best Actors in Film History
Clark Gable Gone with the Wind, It Happened One Night, Mutiny on the Bounty See The Best Clark Gable Movies

63
3,016 1,649
Willem Dafoe is listed (or ranked) 63 on the list The Best Actors in Film History
Willem Dafoe Finding Nemo, Spider-Man, Spider-Man 2

64
2,657 1,769
Christopher Lee is listed (or ranked) 64 on the list The Best Actors in Film History
Christopher Lee The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers

65
2,819 1,808
Forest Whitaker is listed (or ranked) 65 on the list The Best Actors in Film History
Forest Whitaker Platoon, Fast Times at Ridgemont High, Good Morning

66
2,967 2,105
Joaquin Phoenix is listed (or ranked) 66 on the list The Best Actors in Film History
Joaquin Phoenix Gladiator, Signs, Hotel Rwanda

67
3,687 2,524
Bruce Willis is listed (or ranked) 67 on the list The Best Actors in Film History
Bruce Willis Pulp Fiction, Die Hard, The Sixth Sense

68
3,591 1,915
Matthew McConaughey is listed (or ranked) 68 on the list The Best Actors in Film History
Matthew McConaughey Dazed and Confused, The Wolf of Wall Street, Tropic Thunder

69
3,086 1,435
Ed Harris is listed (or ranked) 69 on the list The Best Actors in Film History
Ed Harris Apollo 13, A Beautiful Mind, Gravity

70
3,130 1,619
John Malkovich is listed (or ranked) 70 on the list The Best Actors in Film History
mrblond added John Malkovich Juno, Being John Malkovich, Transformers: Dark of the Moon See The Best John Malkovich Movies

71
2,875 1,882
Michael Douglas is listed (or ranked) 71 on the list The Best Actors in Film History
Michael Douglas One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, Fatal Attraction, Basic Instinct

72
2,756 1,902
Joe Pesci is listed (or ranked) 72 on the list The Best Actors in Film History
Jabapac added Joe Pesci Goodfellas, Raging Bull, Home Alone

73
3,160 1,882
Spencer Tracy is listed (or ranked) 73 on the list The Best Actors in Film History
Spencer Tracy Amélie, It's a Mad, Mad See The Best Spencer Tracy Movies

74
2,834 1,467
Patrick Stewart is listed (or ranked) 74 on the list The Best Actors in Film History
Patrick Stewart X-Men, X-Men: The Last Stand, X-Men 2

75
2,490 1,250
Gene Wilder is listed (or ranked) 75 on the list The Best Actors in Film History
Gene Wilder Young Frankenstein, Blazing Saddles, Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory

76
2,499 1,751
Jeremy Irons is listed (or ranked) 76 on the list The Best Actors in Film History
Jeremy Irons The Lion King, Die Hard with a Vengeance, The Time Machine

77
2,811 2,005
Kevin Costner is listed (or ranked) 77 on the list The Best Actors in Film History
Kevin Costner Dances with Wolves, Man of Steel, Field of Dreams

78
2,521 1,859
Viggo Mortensen is listed (or ranked) 78 on the list The Best Actors in Film History
Viggo Mortensen The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers

79
2,568 1,330
Michael Keaton is listed (or ranked) 79 on the list The Best Actors in Film History
Michael Keaton Batman, Toy Story 3, Beetlejuice

80
2,804 1,282
James Earl Jones is listed (or ranked) 80 on the list The Best Actors in Film History
James Earl Jones Star Wars, Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back, The Lion King

81
2,716 1,703
Woody Harrelson is listed (or ranked) 81 on the list The Best Actors in Film History
Woody Harrelson The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 1, No Country for Old Men

82
3,760 2,519
Will Smith is listed (or ranked) 82 on the list The Best Actors in Film History
Will Smith Men in Black, Independence Day, Men in Black 3

83
2,265 1,644
James Cagney is listed (or ranked) 83 on the list The Best Actors in Film History
vinnyknowsbest added James Cagney Mutiny on the Bounty, Yankee Doodle Dandy, White Heat

84
2,197 1,530
Ewan McGregor is listed (or ranked) 84 on the list The Best Actors in Film History
mrblond added Ewan McGregor Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace, Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith, Trainspotting

85
3,475 2,850
Tom Cruise is listed (or ranked) 85 on the list The Best Actors in Film History
Tom Cruise Top Gun, Jerry Maguire, Rain Man

86
2,584 1,786
Christoph Waltz is listed (or ranked) 86 on the list The Best Actors in Film History
PeteBoyle added Christoph Waltz Inglourious Basterds, Django Unchained, Water for Elephants

87
2,069 1,691
Orson Welles is listed (or ranked) 87 on the list The Best Actors in Film History
Orson Welles Citizen Kane, The Muppet Movie, The Third Man

88
1,985 1,543
Richard Harris is listed (or ranked) 88 on the list The Best Actors in Film History
Richard Harris Gladiator, Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

89
2,120 986
Kurt Russell is listed (or ranked) 89 on the list The Best Actors in Film History
Kurt Russell Forrest Gump, The Thing, The Fox and the Hound

90
2,861 2,405
George Clooney is listed (or ranked) 90 on the list The Best Actors in Film History
George Clooney South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut, Batman & Robin

91
2,212 1,691
James Dean is listed (or ranked) 91 on the list The Best Actors in Film History
DracoZhu added James Dean Rebel Without a Cause, Giant, East of Eden

92
2,995 2,187
Jim Carrey is listed (or ranked) 92 on the list The Best Actors in Film History
Jim Carrey Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Batman Forever, Dumb and Dumber

93
2,174 1,463
Robert Mitchum is listed (or ranked) 93 on the list The Best Actors in Film History
Robert Mitchum Cape Fear, Scrooged, The Night of the Hunter

94
1,952 1,575
Richard Burton is listed (or ranked) 94 on the list The Best Actors in Film History
Richard Burton The Longest Day, Cleopatra, Where Eagles Dare

95
2,109 1,160
John Goodman is listed (or ranked) 95 on the list The Best Actors in Film History
Coolza added John Goodman The Big Lebowski, Monsters, Inc.

96
2,098 1,445
Burt Lancaster is listed (or ranked) 96 on the list The Best Actors in Film History
Burt Lancaster Field of Dreams, From Here to Eternity, Judgment at Nuremberg

97
2,255 1,438
Gary Cooper is listed (or ranked) 97 on the list The Best Actors in Film History
Gary Cooper High Noon, Cinema Paradiso, The Pride of the Yankees

98
2,099 1,436
Walter Matthau is listed (or ranked) 98 on the list The Best Actors in Film History
Walter Matthau JFK, The Bad News Bears, Grumpy Old Men

99
2,064 1,528
Colin Firth is listed (or ranked) 99 on the list The Best Actors in Film History
Colin Firth The English Patient, The King's Speech, Shakespeare in Love

100
2,209 1,075
Gary Sinise is listed (or ranked) 100 on the list The Best Actors in Film History
Gary Sinise Forrest Gump, The Green Mile, Captain America: The Winter Soldier