10. Matthew McConaughey
Dallas Buyers Club (2013)
Matthew McConaughey lost 40 pounds for this role. But that is not the only incredible thing about his performance; the fine balance of compassion and sternness he achieves in his character, caught in the midst of the AIDS crisis, is impeccable.
9. Natalie Portman
Black Swan (2010)
It is Natalie Portman’s strong grip on her character’s mental state and psyche that allows us to witness this dark psychological journey. And her ballet dancing isn’t that bad either.
8. Denzel Washington
Training Day (2001)
Shouting out swear swords, smoking cigarettes, beating people up, Denzel Washington’s portrayal of a street smart cop is astonishingly close to reality. Moreover, we are always kept guessing about the true intentions of his character.
7. Leonardo DiCaprio
The Aviator (2004)
Martin Scorsese brings out the best of his long-tine collaborator, Leonardo DiCaprio in this biopic on the legendary Howard Hughes. Leo beautifully captures the eccentricity, passion and madness of his character and really makes us realize why Howard Hughes was such an iconic personality.
6. Audrey Tautou
Audrey Tautou brings an incredible amount of warmth and charm in her portrayal of Amelie. You can see the innocence in her eyes as she navigates through the streets of Paris. She is undoubtedly the driving force of the film.
5. Adam Sandler
Punch-Drunk Love (2002)
Yes, Adam Sandler. This is not a mistake! His performance is stunning and his character is totally different from the usual ones he plays. The amount of emotional depth he portrays in his fragile character is incredible. If Adam Sandler is capable of producing performances of this magnitude, he really is wasting his talent acting in the usual mediocre comedy films he does.
4. Ellen Burstyn
Requiem For a Dream (2000)
Ellen Burstyn performance as an old woman who suffers from drug addiction will surely send chills down your spine. Her character goes through such immense pain and suffering throughout the film, that it becomes difficult to watch at times. A truly brave performance!
3. Heath Ledger
The Dark Knight (2008)
Heath Ledger deeply immerses himself into the mind of The Joker. The extent to which he makes his insane character believable will leave you in awe. Rest in Peace, Heath.
2. Joaquin Phoenix
The Master (2012)
Joaquin Phoenix, one of the finest actors of this generation, pulls off his greatest performance in the Master. His character is frightening yet innocent. Moreover, Phoenix adds a great level of intensity in his character. You can literally see his veins popping out of his head in the famous ‘processing’ scene. His performance is also perfectly complemented by his co-stars, Amy Adams and Phillip Seymour Hoffman.
1. Daniel Day-Lewis
There Will Be Blood (20007)
It took some time for me to decide which actor will occupy which position on this list, except for this position. Daniel Day-Lewis immediately comes to mind when you think about the best performance of the 21st century. The sheer intensity and relentlessness he puts into his character is unbelievable. You can see it in his eyes. You can see it in his movements. You can see it in the way he talks. Daniel Day-Lewis truly becomes one with his character in There Will Be Blood.