Sunday, July 21, 2024

NY Times 25 Best Actors of 21st Century Revised: Here’s Our List, Starting with Meryl Streep, to Be Picked Apart Just Like Theirs

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Want to cause upset and wreck havoc? Just make a list of the best anything: singers, actors, baseball players. There will be howls of objections from all corners. The New York Times today has made a list of the 25 Best Actors of the 21st Century. It’s specious and nutty. Their list omits several people with serious theater chops, includes some who are popular but not exactly thespians. And where is Meryl Streep? They’ve excised her just to cause trouble. They’ve included several foreign actors and one of two total unknowns just to make you Google them. And of course, in the article, the tributes are written by their friends. Give me a break.

So first their list, then mine. My list includes three gentlemen who have passed away, but recently enough that their 21th century resumes are substantial:

1. Denzel Washington
2. Isabelle Huppert
3. Daniel Day-Lewis
4. Keanu Reeves
5. Nicole Kidman
6. Song Kang-ho
7. Toni Servillo
8. Zhao Tao
9. Viola Davis
10. Saoirse Ronan
11. Julianne Moore
12. Joaquin Phoenix
13. Tilda Swinton
14. Oscar Isaac
15. Michael B. Jordan
16. Kim Min-hee
17. Alfre Woodard
18. Willem Dafoe
19. Wes Studi
20. Rob Morgan
21. Catherine Deneuve
22. Melissa McCarthy
23. Mahershala Ali
24. Sonia Braga
25. Gael Garcia Bernal

Now mine:

1. Meryl Streep
2. Daniel Day-Lewis
3. Nicole Kidman
4. Philip Seymour Hoffman*
5. Denzel Washington
6. Judi Dench
7. David Oyelowo
8. Isabelle Huppert
9. Viola Davis
10. Saoirse Ronan
11. Julianne Moore
12. Joaquin Phoenix
13. Tilda Swinton
14. Oscar Isaac
15. Chadwick Boseman*
16. Cate Blanchett
17. Alfre Woodard
18. Willem Dafoe
19. Al Pacino
20. Robert De Niro
21. Catherine Deneuve
22. Jennifer Lawrence
23. Mahershala Ali
24. Michelle Yeoh
25. Jessica Chastain

And my list, if it had gone on, would have included Octavia Spencer, Anthony Hopkins and Frances McDormand (they’re going to win Oscars next April), Ethan Hawke, Claire Foy, Forest Whitaker, Dianne Wiest, Cherry Jones, Diane Keaton, Glynn Turman, Juliette Bincoche, Cicely Tyson, Ryan Gosling, Emma Stone, and so on and so on and so. Too many people discount Leonardo DiCaprio’s work, but it’s excellent, top notch, and never to be excluded. If Dustin Hoffman hadn’t been forced into early semi-retirement, he’d be at the top. Jane Fonda, Shirley MacLaine, Annette Bening are superstars. Don Cheadle will blow you away. The Times’s limitation of 25 simply isn’t fair, and even my extended list doesn’t do justice to the dozens, hundreds of great talents from every country. I’ll give the Times, credit for one name: Alfre Woodard. We can’t live without her.
PS If Philip Seymour Hoffman had lived and continued to work, he was the best actor of his generation. He would have been number 1.

Roger Friedman
Roger Friedmanhttps://www.showbiz411.com
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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