popular opinion The Best Actors in Film History  

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Originally by Ranker Community
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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.
list ordered by

1
24,384 9,072
Tom Hanks is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best Actors in Film History
Tom Hanks Forrest Gump, Saving Private Ryan, Toy Story

See: The Best Tom Hanks Movies

2
20,597 15,497
Al Pacino is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best Actors in Film History
Al Pacino The Godfather, The Godfather Part II, Scarface

See: The Best Al Pacino Movies

3
19,923 14,699
Robert De Niro is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best Actors in Film History
Robert De Niro Goodfellas, The Godfather Part II, Taxi Driver

See: The Best Robert De Niro Movies

4
18,170 15,082
Jack Nicholson is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best Actors in Film History
Jack Nicholson The Shining, The Departed, Batman

See: The Best Jack Nicholson Movies

5
15,168 8,749
Marlon Brando is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best Actors in Film History
Marlon Brando The Godfather, Apocalypse Now, Superman

See: The Best Marlon Brando Movies

6
11,200 6,278
Anthony Hopkins is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best Actors in Film History
Anthony Hopkins The Silence of the Lambs, Thor, Thor: The Dark World

See: The Best Anthony Hopkins Movies

7
12,155 5,716
Dustin Hoffman is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best Actors in Film History
Dustin Hoffman The Graduate, Being John Malkovich, Rain Man

See: The Best Dustin Hoffman Movies

8
19,529 15,002
Leonardo DiCaprio is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best Actors in Film History
Leonardo DiCaprio Titanic, Inception, The Departed

See: The Best Leonardo DiCaprio Movies

9
12,526 8,744
Morgan Freeman is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best Actors in Film History
Morgan Freeman The Dark Knight, The Dark Knight Rises, Batman Begins

See: The Best Morgan Freeman Movies

10
11,802 5,034
James Stewart is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best Actors in Film History
James Stewart It's a Wonderful Life, Vertigo, Rear Window

See: The Best James Stewart Movies

11
9,627 3,989
Paul Newman is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best Actors in Film History
Paul Newman The Sting, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, Cars

See: The Best Paul Newman Movies

12
10,458 4,589
Clint Eastwood is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best Actors in Film History
Clint Eastwood Good, Unforgiven, Dirty Harry

See: The Best Clint Eastwood Movies

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13
12,013 9,267
Daniel Day-Lewis is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best Actors in Film History
Daniel Day-Lewis Gangs of New York, The Last of the Mohicans, There Will Be Blood

See: The Best Daniel Day-Lewis Movies

14
8,757 3,658
Michael Caine is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best Actors in Film History
Michael Caine The Dark Knight, The Dark Knight Rises, Batman Begins

 See: The Best Michael Caine Movies

15
8,591 4,209
Gary Oldman is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best Actors in Film History
Gary Oldman The Dark Knight, The Dark Knight Rises, Batman Begins

See: The Best Gary Oldman Movies

16
11,450 7,903
Denzel Washington is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best Actors in Film History
Denzel Washington Remember the Titans, Glory, Training Day

See: The Best Denzel Washington Movies

17
7,414 3,561
Humphrey Bogart is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best Actors in Film History
Humphrey Bogart Casablanca, The Maltese Falcon, The African Queen

See: The Best Humphrey Bogart Movies

The Most Rewatchable Movies

18
8,844 3,623
Gene Hackman is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best Actors in Film History
Gene Hackman Superman, The French Connection, Young Frankenstein

See: The Best Gene Hackman Movies

19
11,881 10,457
Johnny Depp is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best Actors in Film History
Johnny Depp A Nightmare on Elm Street, Platoon, Edward Scissorhands

See: The Best Johnny Depp Movies

20
9,522 4,647
Kevin Spacey is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best Actors in Film History
Kevin Spacey American Beauty, Seven, The Usual Suspects

See: The Best Kevin Spacey Movies

21
8,647 3,151
Robert Duvall is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best Actors in Film History
Robert Duvall The Godfather, The Godfather Part II, Apocalypse Now

See: The Best Robert Duvall Movies

22
6,353 3,828
Edward Norton is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best Actors in Film History
Edward Norton Fight Club, The Incredible Hulk, American History X

 See: The Best Edward Norton Movies

The Greatest Romantic Comedies of All Time

23
7,196 4,085
Harrison Ford is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best Actors in Film History
Harrison Ford Star Wars, Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back, Blade Runner

See: The Best Harrison Ford Movies

24
6,638 2,822
Sean Connery is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best Actors in Film History
Sean Connery Goldfinger, The Untouchables, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade

See: The Best Sean Connery Movies

25
6,391 2,581
Gregory Peck is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best Actors in Film History
Gregory Peck To Kill a Mockingbird, Cape Fear, The Omen

 See: The Best Gregory Peck Movies

26
8,490 4,452
Robin Williams is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Best Actors in Film History
Robin Williams Aladdin, Good Will Hunting, Dead Poets Society

 See: The Best Robin Williams Movies

27
5,642 2,714
Cary Grant is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Best Actors in Film History
Cary Grant North by Northwest, Bringing Up Baby, His Girl Friday

See: The Best Cary Grant Movies

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28
7,066 3,466
Christian Bale is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Best Actors in Film History
Christian Bale The Dark Knight, The Dark Knight Rises, Batman Begins

See: The Best Christain Bale Movies

29
6,182 3,152
Liam Neeson is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Best Actors in Film History
Liam Neeson The Dark Knight Rises, Batman Begins, Schindler's List

See: The Best Liam Neeson Movies

30
6,342 2,945
Henry Fonda is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Best Actors in Film History
Henry Fonda Once Upon a Time in the West, 12 Angry Men, The Grapes of Wrath

See: The Best Henry Fonda Movies

31
5,856 2,684
Christopher Walken is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Best Actors in Film History
Christopher Walken Pulp Fiction, Annie Hall, Batman Returns

See: The Best Christopher Walken Movies

32
5,627 3,075
Russell Crowe is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Best Actors in Film History
Russell Crowe Gladiator, Man of Steel, A Beautiful Mind

See: The Best Russell Crowe Movies

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33
5,827 3,115
Samuel L. Jackson is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Best Actors in Film History
Samuel L. Jackson The Avengers, Pulp Fiction, Goodfellas

See: The Best Samuel L. Jackson Movies

34
6,295 3,950
Brad Pitt is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Best Actors in Film History
Brad Pitt Fight Club, Seven, The Departed

See: The Best Brad Pitt Movies

35
5,809 2,095
Tommy Lee Jones is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Best Actors in Film History
Tommy Lee Jones No Country for Old Men, Men in Black, Captain America: The First Avenger

See: The Best Tommy Lee Jones Movies

36
6,921 3,587
Robert Downey Jr. is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Best Actors in Film History
Robert Downey Jr. The Avengers, Iron Man, Iron Man 3

See: The Best Robert Downey Jr. Movies

37
4,747 2,243
Ian McKellen is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Best Actors in Film History
Ian McKellen The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, X-Men

See: The Best Ian McKellen Movies

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38
4,867 2,402
Charlie Chaplin is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Best Actors in Film History
Charlie Chaplin City Lights, The Gold Rush, Modern Times

See: The Best Charlie Chaplin Movies

39
4,244 2,309
Laurence Olivier is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Best Actors in Film History
Laurence Olivier Spartacus, Clash of the Titans, Rebecca

See: The Best Laurence Oliver Movies

40
4,280 1,749
Alan Rickman is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Best Actors in Film History
Alan Rickman Die Hard, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone

See: The Best Alan Rickman Movies

41
5,585 2,465
Heath Ledger is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Best Actors in Film History
Heath Ledger The Dark Knight, Brokeback Mountain, The Patriot

See: The Best Heath Ledger Movies

42
4,194 2,227
Sidney Poitier is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Best Actors in Film History
Sidney Poitier In the Heat of the Night, Guess Who's Coming to Dinner, Sneakers

See: The Best Sidney Poitier Movies

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43
3,748 2,306
Peter O'Toole is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Best Actors in Film History
Peter O'Toole Lawrence of Arabia, Ratatouille, Prometheus

See: The Best Peter O'Toole Movies

44
3,771 2,094
Ben Kingsley is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Best Actors in Film History
Ben Kingsley Schindler's List, Iron Man 3, Shutter Island

See: The Best Ben Kingsley Movies

45
3,581 2,027
Philip Seymour Hoffman is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Best Actors in Film History
Philip Seymour Hoffman The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 1, The Big Lebowski

See: The Best Philip Seymour Hoffman Movies

46
3,474 1,752
Jeff Bridges is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Best Actors in Film History
Jeff Bridges Iron Man, The Big Lebowski, Tron

See: The Best Jeff Bridges Movies

47
4,532 2,555
Matt Damon is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Best Actors in Film History
Matt Damon Saving Private Ryan, The Departed, Good Will Hunting

See: The Best Matt Damon Movies

48
2,892 1,978
Ralph Fiennes is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Best Actors in Film History
Ralph Fiennes Schindler's List, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

See: The Best Ralph Fiennes Movies

49
4,015 2,644
Mel Gibson is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Best Actors in Film History
Mel Gibson Braveheart, Lethal Weapon, Pocahontas

See: The Best Mel Gibson Movies

50
3,644 3,107
Sean Penn is listed (or ranked) 50 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