Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Old Lists: Burton, O’Toole and other Actors

Making lists is one of my favourite, bizarre hobbies. Thus, The Film Experience’s monthly Team Experience polls which ask us to give a top 10 on various topics always delights/exasperates me. Thrilling because lists are fun, but exasperating because lists are also hard.

The most recent was a top 10 of my favourite Academy Award Best Actor nominated performances.

It was considerably easier than making the similar list for Best Actress performances (I should post that list in the future); both because I’ve seen less of the men and because actors are just less exciting to watch than women.

Still, I’m especially fond of each of these ten performances (and the slew of named and unnamed) runners up.

10. Dustin Hoffman in The Graduate (1967)
9. Anthony Hopkins in The Remains of the Day (1993)
8. Jack Lemmon in The Apartment (1960)
7. Marlon Brando in A Streetcar Named Desire (1951)
6. Sean Penn in Dead Man Walking (1995)
5. Albert Finney in Tom Jones (1963)
4. Daniel Day Lewis in In the Name of the Father (1993)
3. Al Pacino in Dog Day Afternoon (1975)
2. Peter O’Toole in The Lion in Winter (1968)
1. Richard Burton in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf (1966)
Amir, who organises these, told me to stop overthinking my choices so much but as much as I could quibble or ex out names not in the ten for those inside I’d say the top 10 is a fairly good assessment of my favourites even though it highlights some of my weird habits. There’s, for example, no performance cited from before 1951 but THREE cited from the nineties which has as much to do with preference as it does with what I’ve seen. I’ve seen every 90s Best Actor nominee, for example, but maybe a half of those pre-1950.

I doubt I’ll find a performance that I love as much as my #1, though. He didn’t make the TFE’s list but Richard Burton in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf is, for me, the apex of male acting.

Randomness: Four of the ten men on my list saw their female counterparts winning Best Actress prizes.

Runners-Up: Robert DeNiro in Taxi Driver (1976); Spencer Tracy in Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner (1967); Woody Allen in Annie Hall (1977), Montgomery Clift in From Here to Eternity

Decades unmentioned:
1930s – James Stewart in Mr Smith Goes to Washington
1940s – Henry Fonda in The Grapes of Wrath
1980s – Warren Beatty in Reds
00s – Jude Law in Cold Mountain


What are the most glaring omissions on my list? What are your favourites?

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