10 Best Actors of the 21st Century

How do you make a list of best actors of the 21st century? Should we select actors with better films on his resume. Or should we pick ones with wider acting range. Honestly, I am tempted to go with the latter. Some actors work a lot less than others. While others are just plain unlucky. And that’s why someone like Naomi Watts was placed much higher in our best actresses of the 21st century list. Her resume may not have a lot of great films, but we all know what a diverse range she posses and how easily she can slide into any character.

For this list too, we are going to employ a similar measure. Judge an acting talent for his skills rather than his resume (though, obviously, the more impressive the resume, the more opportunities an actor has had to show his skills). Joaquin Phoenix may not have plenty of great films to show off, but we all know he is easily one of the most talented actors in town. With that said, here is the list of top 10 actors of the 21st century.


10. Tony Leung Chiu-Wai

You only need to watch ‘In the Mood For Love’ to know what a gem of an actor he is. While in ‘In the Mood For Love’ he plays an very understated, quiet role, in ‘The Grandmaster’ he transforms into a martial arts grandmaster. He has also gone on from playing a lonely policeman in Chungking Express to a gay Chinese expatriate living in Argentina in Happy Together. Leung first gained international exposure in Hou Hsiao-hsien’s 1989 film A City of Sadness, which won the Venice Golden Lion. Obviously, his close association with director Wong Kar-wai has helped him show his vast talent. There’s no question that he is among the best acting talents around not just in Asian cinema but in the world. Even actors like Robert De Niro and Brad Pitt are among long admirers of his work.


9. Heath Ledger

The untimely demise of Heath Ledger shocked the film fraternity and the movie lovers all over the globe. Handsome and charming, the man from Down Under had won millions of hearts worldwide with his blue eyes and heart-piercing smile. He was an actor par excellence and brought the sense of realism in every single role he portrayed on-screen. From his sensitive portrayal of a gay cowboy in ‘Brokeback Mountain’ to his wickedly smart Joker in ‘The Dark Knight’, he let himself go in each of the characters he played. A testament of truly great actor.


8. Jake Gyllenhaal

An actor who has been on a terrific form lately. In fact, one can easily say that he has been the best actor in business for the last three years just by the sheer volume of great work he has done. Not that he wasn’t a great actor during the last decade — he was exceptional in ‘Brokeback Mountain’ and Zodiac’ — but lately he has risen to a completely different level. Let’s down the films he has done over last three and you will know what we are talking about: ‘End of Watch’, ‘Prisoners’, ‘Enemy’, ‘Nightcrawler’, ‘Southpaw’, ‘Everest’, ‘Demolition’ and ‘Nocturnal Animals’. Wow.. just wow.


7. Javier Bardem

Be it an effeminate poet or an evil contract killer or an undead sea pirate  in the forthcoming Pirates Of The Caribbean movie, his sheer ability to transform into any role makes him unique. Brooding looks, unconventionally handsome and eyes that have depth of the oceans. Among his peers, he’s the one actor whose intensity is unparalleled.. Born into a family of artists, Javier remained faithful to it and started making waves in the corridors of Spanish films. As author Erica Jong puts it, everyone has a talent but only a few have the courage to follow it to the dark places where it leads. It was just a matter of time, before Javier burst into limelight through his effervescent performances, winning numerous accolades on the way.


6. Christian Bale

Right from his breakout performance as a psychopathic millionaire in ‘American Psycho’, it became well established that Christian Bale enjoyed playing unconventional roles. A British actor who had a slow yet steady rise to stardom, Bale is today one of the most successful actors in the world. His commitment and dedication to his craft is evident from his excellent performances in ‘The Machinist’ and ‘The Fighter’. But it was his role as Bruce Wayne/Batman in Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy that truly catapulted him to worldwide popularity; he managed to give emotional depth to a caricatured comic-book role, without ever going over-the-top. Bale continues to give out excellent performances with films like ‘American Hustle’ and ‘The Big Short’ and we strongly believe his best is yet to come.


  • Without a doubt, Andrew Garfield should have been on this list. His range is vast. Transforms into every role and has only shown a smidge of what he is capable of. Not to mention, and I am not writing this to be rude, but he is alive. The two who have passed were truly amazing, don’t get me wrong, but I think they should be mentioned in some type of side list. Understandably, narrowing actors down to a list of ten is almost an impossible task, but I think.there is a stronger argument for Andrew Garfield than some of the other actors on the list.

  • How is Di Caprio on the top 5? The most overrated actor ever
    Philip Seymour Hoffman is very better, and where is Fassbender?