10. Dustin Hoffman
Our top 10 male actors list begins with Dustin Hoffman. From Midnight Cowboy to Rain Man, there aren’t many better than Mr. Hoffman at breathing life into a character. More than words in a script, Hoffman brings any story to life.
Iconic roles since 1960, Mr. Hoffman’s career has spanned film, television, and theater. He has been known for his versatile portrayals of antiheroes and vulnerable characters.
9. Paul Newman
Often called one of the best-looking male actors ever, Paul Newman made it look easy. But in addition to being good looking, Newman is one of the top male actors ever.
Mr. Paul Newman won numerous awards, including an Academy Award for best actor for his performance in the 1986 Martin Scorsese film The Color of Money.
And the list of accomplishments continues with eight more nominations, six Golden Globe Awards (including three honorary ones), a BAFTA Award, a Screen Actors Guild Award, a Cannes Film Festival Award, an Emmy Award, and many honorary awards.
8. Ben Kingsley
Although his movies have been the huge blockbuster types (think Gandhi 1982), Ben Kingsley is one of the best male lead actors in the business. Mr. Kingsley was born in Scarborough, Yorkshire, England.
His father, Rahimtulla Harji Bhanji, was of Gujrati Indian descent, and his mother, Anna Lyna Mary (Goodman), was British. Ben began to act in stage plays during the 1960s. He soon became a successful stage actor and also began to have roles in films and TV.
7. Daniel Day Lewis
Good male actors can bring out the written word with ease. Daniel Lewis goes beyond the words on the page to always create something special for the screen. As a result, he is the only person in film history to win the Oscar award for Best Actor three times.
Born in London, England, he is the second child of Cecil Day-Lewis (A.K.A. Nicholas Blake) (Poet Laureate of England) and his second wife, Jill Balcon. His maternal grandfather was Sir Michael Balcon, an important figure in the history of British cinema, head of the famous Ealing Studios. Well, that may explain why he’s so good.
6. Jack Nicholson
Our top male actors of all-time list continue with Jack. John Joseph “Jack” Nicholson (born April 22, 1937) is an American actor, film director, producer, and writer. Throughout his career, Nicholson has portrayed unique and challenging roles, many of which include dark portrayals of excitable, neurotic and psychopathic characters.
His performances in Chinatown, One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest, and The Shining cannot be missed. In fact, the Oscars has confirmed Nicholson as one of the top male actors of all time with 12 Academy Award nominations make him the most nominated male actor in the Academy’s history.
5. Denzel Washington
When you think of popular black male actors, Denzel Washington immediately comes to mind. Washington has received much critical acclaim for his film work since the 1990s, including his portrayals of real-life figures such as South African anti-apartheid activist Steve Biko (Cry Freedom 1987) and the Muslim minister and human rights activist Malcolm X (Malcolm X 1992).
The good looking male actor has also played convincing characters such as the boxer Rubin “Hurricane” Carter (The Hurricane 1999), football coach Herman Boone (Remember the Titans 2000), poet and educator Melvin B. Tolson (The Great Debaters 2007), and drug kingpin Frank Lucas (American Gangster 2007).
4. Anthony Hopkins
Sir Anthony Hopkins has been delighting both stage and film audiences for decades. In fact, the classically trained thespian tried several times earlier in his career to make the leap from theater to movies with no luck.
It’s hard to image an actor with such range and depth as Hopkins not shining sooner on the big screen. Influenced by Richard Burton, he decided to study at College of Music and Drama and graduated in 1957. Ten years later he made his first film for television, A Flea in Her Ear (1967).
3. Al Pacino
One of the greatest actors in all of film history, Al Pacino established himself during one of film’s greatest decades, the 1970s, and has become an enduring and iconic figure in the world of American movies.
His roles in The Godfather, Scarface, Serpico, and Dog Day Afternoon are iconic. Respected by fellow actors, and idolized by fans, Pacino and cinema go hand and hand.
2. Robert De Niro
Watching De Niro play a young Vito Corleone in The Godfather Part II or playing a mob guy gone soft in Analyze This, is both entertainment and acting lessons wrapped in one.
If Pacino delivers big performances, De Niro gets you with his subtle brilliance on film. Able to do both comedic and serious roles with ease, Mr. De Niro commands the camera’s attention in every shot he’s in.
1. Marlon Brando
Ask anyone on this best male actor list who are the best male actors of all time, and most would place Marlon Brando near the top. Would there be a Pacino, De Niro, or Hoffman if there were no Brando? Hard to say.
We’re not taking anything away from the other popular male actors, but no single name has been credited for starting acting careers than his. From his earlier performance in A Streetcar Named Desire, to his perfectly acted role as The Godfather, Marlon Brando is viewed by many to be the best.