Top Five Male Acting Performances Of The Current Century (Re-Post)

It has been 4 years since I compiled this list  what performances would you add to it?

Due to a recent viewing of the Paul Thomas Anderson film, The Master, I was forced to look at what acting performances have been better than the several I just finished witnessing on the screen. This lead to a top five list of the greatest male performances of this century, being from the year 2000 to the present. This list will be a subject of debate but none the less, has what I consider the greatest performances we have seen in the last 12 years.

5.Sean Penn:  Mystic River

After having out grown his “bad boy” persona, but not his passion for what he believes, Sean Penn would team up with Hollywood royalty in director, Clint Eastwood for an adaptation of the Dennis Lehane novel, Mystic River. Playing former convict and very small time ring leader of loyal enforcers Jimmy Markum, Penn pulls out one of the most emotional roles of his storied career. This would earn Penn his first Oscar win for which he seemed quite humbled by the honor. Penn’s performance is undeniably genuine and flawless from beginning to end.

4.Leonardo DiCaprio:  Blood Diamond

Leonardo DiCaprio made Blood Diamond amid a streak of fabulous performances in 3 straight Martin Scorsese films. It was the Blood Diamond that, to me, showed DiCaprio’s talent and commitment to every role he undertakes. Playing the role of Danny Archer, a South African smuggler and somewhat of an unforgiving pirate who’s life is turned upside down when he help’s a poor farmer rescue his son from the rebel forces who kidnapped him forcing him to fight. Archer does all of this in exchange for a rare pink diamond found and hidden by the boy’s father. DiCaprio mastered a perfect South African accent and for once, even managed to seem somewhat evil and ruthless, while we believe and see his heart actually change along the way.

3.Christian Bale:  The Fighter

Christian Bale was clearly at the peak of his career and, almost couldn’t help but put out hit after hit when he took on the role of the real life former boxer and crack addict, Dick Ecklund. The physical transformation Bale underwent, while remarkable, is only a side note to his incredible and spot-on portrayal of Dick Ecklund. Between a pitch perfect Boston accent, to the heart warming, in film transformation from sunken crack addict, to passionate and driven boxing trainer, is near remarkable.

2.Mickey Rourke:  The Wrestler

The film and role of a lifetime could never have been done with out Mickey Rourke’s involvement. The story that brought out so many emotions in Rourke, and hit so close to home that it could have distanced Rourke from making the role, that late in his life would define his career. Rourke saw so many similarities between Randy “The Ram” and his life and believed so highly in Darren Aronofsky that he did nothing short of throw himself deep into the role, making for some of the most compelling acting seen on screen in years, with a true reality that makes you feel every emotion felt not only by “The Ram”,  but by Rourke himself.

1.Heath Ledger:  The Dark Knight

Not much can be said that hasn’t already been said about Ledger and his portrayal of The Joker, in the truly epic middle story of Christopher Nolan’s Batman saga. His commitment and transformation not only was superb, but truly frightening in achieving what Ledger and Nolan set out to accomplish, by making The Joker seem so real it would strike fear in all that saw it. No one wanted to see what happened to Ledger after filming, but there is no doubt it’s the film he will be remembered for and it is a movie and role anyone would be proud to have it be their calling card.

34 thoughts on “Top Five Male Acting Performances Of The Current Century (Re-Post)”

  1. Here are my picks for top 5 male performers from this century:

    5) Steve Martin in “The PInk Panther”
    4)Martin Lawrence in “Big Mama’s House”
    3)Nicholas Cage in “The Wicker Man”
    2) Adam Sandler in “Jack and Jill”
    1) Nick Swardson in “Bucky Larson: Born to be a Star”

    I will take my tongue out of my cheek now.

  2. It’s impossible to decide obviously, but yours are all pretty recent. I found Bale’s performance in “The Fighter,” like the whole movie, pretty tame…but otherwise you’ve got some really monumental roles up there. I really want to see THE MASTER

  3. Didn’t see Mystic River or Blood Diamond but your list is great and makes me wonder who would be on mine… I truly loved Russell Crowe in both Gladiator and Cinderella Man, but not sure he’d make my list.

  4. Top 5 is very limited list if you are searching for century. I would have said for last 5 years would be apt.
    All the name mentions deserves the praise. Planning on one such list now. I would add collin firth for kings speech and russel crowe for gladiator.must

  5. mystic river was painful to watch, but for a good reason – the performances of not just penn but also tim robbins. their scene at the bar and then at the bay behind the bar was disturbingly great. then that brings me to tim robbins in “the shawshank redemption.”

    my issue with your list would be not including tom hanks in forrest gump, which to me is the single best male performance i can think of. i would have to replace christian bale in “the fighter” for two reasons: 1. i didn’t see it, and 2. i sometimes think movies are set in boston only because someone wants the challenge of nailing a boston accent.

  6. nice list . though would have had sean penn on it for milk instead and have to admit heath and micky would have been in the top on my version of the list for heath epsically nailed the joker brought out the clowns price of crimes creepiness to a t

  7. Totally agree with these. Good list. I might also include Christophe Waltz in Inglourious Basterds and Daniel Day Lewis in There Will Be Blood.

  8. Rourke’s escape from his miserable home life was boxing. He trained at Miami’s 5th Street Gym, from where Muhammad Ali had sprung and, by 16, he was sparring with Luis Rodriguez, the number one ranked middleweight, ahead of Rodriguez’s world title fight. Two severe concussions put paid to his hopes of turning pro and he fell into acting almost by accident.

  9. Unfortunately I haven’t seen The Wrestler or The Fighter but for mine, Daniel Day Lewis in There Will Be Blood would have to be in there somewhere. Heath Ledger as the Joker was chilling.

  10. I agree with at least some of your top 5 I didn’t see Blood Diamond, or The Wrestler, so I don’t know about the Leo or Mickey. But the other 3 were FANTABULOUS!!!! And I don’t really care for Sean Penn but he was good in that one.

  11. Amazing list. It is great to see Leo for Blood Diamond on your list. We have similar tastes. I was so impressed by his accent there as well, and, as you rightly pointed out, he looked more like a “baddy” there. He should have won an Oscar for that. I would also have added Daniel Day-Lewis for either There Will be Blood or Lincoln.

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