2007's 10 Best Actors

What an incredible year actors had in 2007. Normally I create a Top 5 list of standout performances, but this year had an overabundance of fantastic performances by actors in leading roles. I stopped at 10, but the list could have gone on and on... Casey Affleck (Gone Baby Gone), Josh Brolin (No Country for Old Men) and Tommy Lee Jones (In the Valley of Elah) just barely missed making my Top 10.

There Will Be Blood
Daniel Day-Lewis in There Will Be Blood. © Paramount Vantage
Daniel Day-Lewis delivers, hands down, the best performance of the year by an actor (either male or female). Day-Lewis goes huge in There Will Be Blood (humongous is a better word) and he does such a powerful job, his performance lingers in your mind long after the film's over. The film itself didn't make my top 10 list of the best movies of 2007 because I found the score to be so overwhelming and obnoxious that I couldn't concentrate on the dialogue. But fortunately the music did nothing to diminish Day-Lewis' riveting turn as a madman who lives and breathes oil. More »
Rescue Dawn
Christian Bale stars in Rescue Dawn. © MGM

Christian Bale had an amazing 2007. Bale took on roles in three vastly diverse films and made them his own. He tackled the Western genre in 3:10 to Yuma, played one of many Bob Dylan's in the twisted indie film I'm Not There, and delivered yet another career-defining performance in Rescue Dawn. You really need to check out the Rescue Dawn DVD in order to truly appreciate what Bale did in this Werner Herzog movie. More »

3:10 to Yuma
Russell Crowe in 3:10 to Yuma. © Lionsgate Films

Russell Crowe was great in American Gangster but it's his role in the Western drama 3:10 to Yuma that earns him a place on this Top 10 list. Crowe was pitch-perfect as an outlaw who the audience wants to like, despite the fact he's a cold-blooded killer. More »

Into the Wild
Emile Hirsch stars in Into the Wild. © Paramount Vantage
Emile Hirsch is quietly compiling a resumé other actors his age would kill to claim as their own. He's got indie cred and he's shown he can handle roles in big-budget studio films. And with Into the Wild, Hirsch proves he's strong enough to be alone on the screen for extended scenes without any dialogue or anyone to work off of. Plus, his physical transformation throughout the film is very Christian Bale-like, vanity be damned. More »
Eastern Promises
Viggo Mortensen stars in Eastern Promises. © Focus Features

Viggo Mortensen's Russian accent in Eastern Promises is one of the few that hasn't reminded me of Boris and Natasha from Rocky & Bullwinkle. Mortensen also earns extra points for doing a full frontal nude fight scene that is in no way sexual. Reuniting with his A History of Violence director David Cronenberg, Mortensen delivers a mesmerizing performance. More »

American Gangster
Denzel Washington and Josh Brolin in American Gangster. © Universal Pictures
Oscar-winner Denzel Washington is so smooth as a ruthless drug dealer in American Gangster that the character is irresistably charming - despite how he makes his living or the fact he's quick to pull the trigger if provoked. Without a doubt Washington's one of the best American actors alive today, and American Gangster shows he can play super evil super well. More »
Sweeney Todd
Johnny Depp in Sweeney Todd. © DreamWorks LLC and Warner Bros Entertainment
It's about time Johnny Depp wins an Oscar, isn't it? He's edgy and unique, and he plays by his own rules. Depp's depth (trying saying that 10 times fast) as an actor allows him to go from the silliness of a bizarre rock 'n roll-ish pirate dude in a Disney film to singing Sondheim's twisted lyrics in Sweeney Todd, his sixth film with director Tim Burton, without losing a step. More »
Michael Clayton
George Clooney stars in Michael Clayton. © Warner Bros Pictures
It appears that George Clooney owns award season. He may not win every time he's nominated, but that doesn't matter. Clooney's name pops up so often, you've got to wonder if other actors groan whenever Clooney's attached to a drama. More »
Lars and the Real Girl
Ryan Gosling in Lars and the Real Girl. © MGM

Ryan Gosling won over women in The Notebook, thrilled audiences by squaring off against Sir Anthony Hopkins in Fracture, and was so good as a drug-addicted teacher in Half Nelson that he picked up a Best Actor Oscar nomination. In Lars and the Real Girl, Gosling stars as an introverted man who finds true love, via in the Internet, in the form of a life-size doll. Playing opposite a plastic love interest, Gosling made 'Bianca' seem as alive as any of his other flesh and blood co-stars. More »

Atonement
James McAvoy stars in Atonement. © Focus Features

Forest Whitaker won an Oscar for his portrayal of dictator Idi Amin in The Last King of Scotland while McAvoy's co-starring turn as Idi Amin's doctor was totally overlooked, even though it was just as compelling. That's not happening this year with Atonement. Both McAvoy and co-star Keira Knightley are sharing in the film's spotlight, which is great since McAvoy delivers yet another textured performance. More »