…and the quest to see everything

The Ten Best Actors of All Time Relay

So what’s the idea behind the relay? I’ve created a list of what I think are the best actors. At the end I, just like in a real relay race, hand over the baton to another blogger who will write his own post. The blogger will have to remove one actor (that is an obligation) and add his own choice and describe why he/she did this. At the end the blogger chooses another blogger to do the same. The idea is to make this a long race, so that each blogger gets a chance to remove and add an actor. We will end up with a list (not ranked in order) which represents a common agreement of the best actors.

Those were the words of Nostra from MyFilmViews, who has in the Biblical fashion, passed it on to at least two dozen bloggers before it came down to Andrew from Encore Entertainment and eventually from me, who is receiving this baton with excitement and trepidation.

The Previous Entries:


Humphrey Bogart

Marlon Brando

Charlie Chaplin

Daniel Day Lewis

Robert De Niro

Ralph Fiennes

Paul Newman

Jack Nicholson

Richard Burton

Procrastination made me think about the person I was going to excise, flip-flopping between two actors. I chose to oust Jack Lemmon from the list – sorry Anna – and it sucks because I hope to see a comedian before this relay ends. But I did it because of his grating performance in…Irma La Douce, relying on the cutesy America’s Best Friend laurels and  unnecessarily prolonging his gags. I can also never see his as a statesman nor as a villain, just like the other actors who remind me of him. He also spends his later years as the ‘cowering senior citizen’ stereotype, letting stronger personalities like Walter Matthau, Kevin Costner and Kevin Spacey dominate him in scenes.

Before I tell you what I’m looking for in my best actor, before I could even think of a name, that despite bigger box office returns when their names are in the marquee, men aren’t expected to act. Men are the rock of a movie, the star who doesn’t change even the world around them does. And we don’t really want to watch them suffer neither. Or maybe I’m expecting too much from men, wanting to see them embody the two extremes of male form – being their the masculine or the lanky charity case. I also expect them, as any actor of any gender, to transcend not just gender and sexuality but race, class – as a non white straight male these criteria are important to me, despite the limitations age and other divisions. But bodies do betray their thespian inhabitants.

So the person I choose to add can’t be a star and thus has to be a character actor, and we already have a shape shifter or two up there. I first saw – and had a crush on – Bruce Greenwood as the grieving Ontarian father in The Sweet Hereafter. Do yourself a favour and see that and his collaboration with Atom Egoyan before it – Exotica, where he plays a haunted, tenor voiced man addicted the lap dances of his former baby sitter. Even after those movies, you can list the ones he’s been in as part of a new canon, I’m Not There, Star Trek, Super 8 and Meek’s Cutoff. You can call those his defaults – the toothless hick and the effete bourgeois, but even in the fourth decade in his career – he was in First Blood, for God’s sakes – he can still be as versatile as the spectrum, the same way as he has been since we first saw him onscreen.

Bruce Greenwood as Pike in the 2009 film

I pass this on to my good friend Amir (Amiresque) who should take on this challenge quickly and more soberly than I can.

9 responses

  1. Nice to see a character actor on here, I suppose this list doesn’t specify that it has to be a *leading* actor. I like Bruce’s work, he often disappears into his roles but always makes an impression.

    May 4, 2012 at 12:56 pm

  2. Interesting choice, definitely going against the grain from the others. I agree with Ruth — very nice to see a character acto on here!

    I like his work. I always seem to perk up whenever I see him.

    May 4, 2012 at 1:18 pm

  3. Thanks Ruth and Dave for the positive feedback. I was so scared about picking him but I would be lying to myself and to you all if I picked someone else.

    Hope the relay gets around to you, Dave. I have hints on who you’ll pick but I can’t be too sure lol.

    May 5, 2012 at 2:11 am

  4. Nice addition, although I recognise his face I wouldn’t know his name even if I have seen him in dozens of movies. He’s one of those “Oh, that guy!” actors, but always solid 🙂

    May 5, 2012 at 8:02 am

    • I also put him in because I had to put a fellow Canadian on the list. 🙂

      May 5, 2012 at 8:10 am

  5. Interesting addition! Like Nostra says, I definitely recognise the face but didn’t know the name. The Sweet Hereafter is a great film but I haven’t seen it in a long time. Perhaps it’s time for me to brace myself and give it another go.

    May 5, 2012 at 9:14 am

  6. Pingback: The Ten: Best Actors of All Time Relay « Flickers

  7. Pingback: 10 Best Actors of All-Time Relay Race | Taste of Cinema

  8. Pingback: The Ten: Best All-Time Actors Relay Race | 1:37 exactly

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