Over the last few months The Snooty Ushers have been counting down their favourite actors, now, as you will have noticed from the first two parts, this is a list of our favourite actors, not necessarily the best or the greatest. What do you mean you haven’t caught the first two parts? Get that sorted by clicking here for part 1 and here for part 2.
So here are the final 5. We promise you a surprise at number 1…
No 5. Nicolas Cage
Now, Nicolas Cage has become a slightly ridiculous figure in the last few years, given his mounting debts he has adopted a “will do anything” attitude to accepting roles. Stolen, Trespass, Pay The Ghost, Left Behind and many more. Let us not forget however this is an Academy Award winning actor (Leaving Las Vegas, 1995). He is not a bad actor by any stretch, he has just become a bit of a caricature of himself due to some questionable career choices.
Born Nicolas Coppola, he is the nephew of legendary director Francis Ford Coppola. So as not to trade on the family name he changed his when he went into acting, taking the surname of one of his favourite comic book characters Luke Cage and the legend was born.
He always, regardless of the quality of the work, brings his trademark intensity, really losing himself in his roles. The Cage Rage has become iconic.
Nicolas Cage has made in excess of 70 films, I own 56 of them. While I agree that not all of them are of the best quality, there are some real classics in his back catalouge. The highlights of his early work include an injured solider trying to reach his mentally ill childhood friend in Alan Parker’s brilliant Birdy (1984), or as the bumbling criminal with a heart of gold in the Coen Brother’s Raising Arizona (1987) and in one of his finest hours as the unstable drifter in the David Lynch’s classic Wild At Heart (1990) In the mid 90s he reinvented himself somewhat as he made a trio of now classic action films. The Rock, Con Air and Face/Off, not to mention he was soooo close to playing Superman! He eventually did get to play a comic book hero when he took on the role of Ghost Rider in 2007. Sadly, it was beyond terrible, somehow got another chance in 2012 in Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance, with much better results.
In and around the late 00s, Cage got himself into trouble when some real estate deals went bad and the tax man came calling, this more than anything is behind his choice of roles in the last 5-10 years. There have been some hidden gems in there however, he was the best thing in Kick Ass (2010), he headed up the voice cast in the massive Dreamworks hit The Croods and if you can, I suggest catching Joe (2013), which harks back to some of his best work in the 90s. Even some of his more questionable titles are fun, in particular, Season Of The Witch (2011). where Cage forms a great double act with Ron Pearlman as they both mug it up and pretend they are in a better film and Drive Angry (2011) where he plays as man literally trying to out run the devil. Both are great fun.
Dave’s Favourite Role: Cameron Poe, Con Air (Simon West, 1997)
“Put… the bunny… back… in the box”
This was a near on impossible choice, I love so many of his film, but Cameron Poe just edged it in the end. A noble army ranger who is in the wrong place at the wrong time, finding himself on a hijacked plane full of ruthless killers. A man of few words, he successfully “saves the fxxkin day” A brilliant performance in a truly iconic 90s action film. Benjamin Franklin Gates from National Treasure, Sailor from Wild At Heart and Memphis Raines from Gone In 60 Seconds were all in the top spot before I was done.
James’s Favourite Role: Terence McDonagh, Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans (Werner Herzog, 2009)
The enigma that is Nic Cage. Even in his latter-day, say-yes-to-anything phase, he still pulls out great performances like Joe, and can turn on the huge movie star schtick in his role as Big Daddy in Kick-Ass. But it’s Cage dropping f-bombs on an old woman that makes this such an entertaining performance. It sums up everything great about Nic Cage.
Dan’s Favourite Role: Terence McDonagh, Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans (Werner Herzog, 2009)
Welshy’s Favourite Role: Castor Troy, Face/Off (John Woo, 1997)
No 4. Tom Hanks
Hanks had a great career as a comedy actor before he started to take on the dramatic roles. In the late 80s he starred in Dragnet (a guilty pleasure), the classic Big, the underrated The ‘Burbs, and another guilty pleasure Tuner and Hooch. A few years later in the mid 90s, he made Philadelphia, Forrest Gump, Apollo 13, and Toy Story. That is four GREAT films, with four GREAT performances, and all so differently entertaining.
Surely that’s enough for one career? Hanks was only getting started! Saving Private Ryan, The Green Mile, Cast Away, Road To Perdition, Catch Me If You Can… these all show an actor at the top of his game, willing to play against type and take on some unlikable characters. I may be in the minority in liking The Ladykillers AND The Terminal. And The Cloud Atlas was really entertaining, even if I don’t think I fully understand why. The there’s 2013’s double whammy of Saving Mr Bank and Captain Philips, both of which could have earned another Oscar nomination.
In the interests of balance, I don’t particularly care for Sleepless in Seattle and You Got Mail. And as Robert Langdon in The Da Vinci Code and Angels & Demons he’s a bit dull, like the films. That’s pretty much all the bad stuff I can think of.
And when it comes down to it, he’s just my favourite actor.
James’s Favourite Role: Carl Hanratty, Catch Me If You Can (Steven Spielberg, 2002)
I’m a huge fan of Hanks early comedy work, and he has had more critically acclaimed roles than this, but this is my favourite role of Hanks long career. A driven, focused man, Hanratty isn’t as fun as DiCaprio’s Frank Abagnale, but as always in this type of film, it’s the straight role that holds the films together. Dustin Hoffman can only do what he does in Rain Man because of Tom Cruise’s performance. More recently, Christian Bale’s Oscar win in The Fighter owes a lot to Mark Wahlberg’s measured, mature turn. In Catch Me If You Can, Hanks gives one of the great straight man performances.
And Hanratty’s “knock, knock” joke is the best “knock, knock” joke on film, perfectly delivered by Hanks.
Dave’s Favourite Role: Michael Sullivan, Snr, Road To Perdition, (Sam Mendes, 2002)
Hanks at his best playing against type as a ruthless hitman and loving family man, desperately trying to keep his son from following his footsteps into a life of crime. A towering performance, of this role Hanks said “”I just got this guy. If you’re a man, and you’ve got offspring … emotionally, it’s devastating.” Sums it up perfectly.
Dan’s Favourite Role: Captain Miller – Saving Private Ryan (Steven Spielberg, 1998)
Welshy’s Favourite Role: Forrest Gump – Forrest Gump– (Robert Zemeckis, 1994)
No 3. Jack Nicholson
Dan: Though it is a list of favourite actors, and not the best, I still feel a certain somebody is getting revenge for Rocky losing out on our Top 10 Boxing Films list. That aside Jack Nicholson is a once in a lifetime kind of actor. There are few people who can successfully play big characters in distinctly different genres and never fail. Sure he’s renowned for playing brilliant bad guys (The Joker, Jack Torrance, Col. Jessup) but he has also expertly embraced his lighter side in films like About Schmidt, Anger Management and As Good as It Gets. Without a shadow of a doubt not only do I have Nicholson as my favourite actor, I think he is the best who ever lived.
Dan’s Favourite Role: R.P. McMurphy, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (Milos Forman, 1975)
R.P. McMurphy is a complex and diverse character who displays both the best of, and worst of his being. He is not only an intriguing character to watch, you spend the whole film unravelling his personality. Despite his evident flaws, McMurphy stands as a beacon of light against institution, and his inability to uniform his behaviour is something we can all relate to in some way shape or form. Much like a many of his roles, the character is a great example of the acting ability of Nicholson.
Dave’s Favourite Role: Col. Nathan R. Jessup, A Few Good Men (Rob Reiner, 1992)
“You can’t handle the truth”
Only in 3 scenes but his presence is felt throughout. A towering performance from one of the all time greats. His climatic monologue still gives me goosebumps
James Favourite Role: Jack Torrance, The Shining (Stanley Kubrick, 1980)
Undoubtedly a great actor, how many of Nicholson’s films would I re-watch right now? Batman and The Shining. A great performance in a great film.
Welshy’s Favourite Role: Colonel Nathan R. Jessup– A Few Good Men (Rob Reiner, 1992)
No 2. Tom Cruise
James: The 21st century’s biggest movie star, on a run of great films. Just film after film that have hit the mark. Edge of Tomorrow, Oblivion, and Jack Reacher were all much, much better than expected, with Cruise bring his movie star presence to these films, and showing that he wasn’t afraid to risk original material in a landscape of sequels and connected universes. Of course, Cruise has also got the Mission Impossible franchise going for him at the same time, so he’s never going that far out on a limb. The fact that the fifth installment was so good earlier this year is down to Cruise’s ongoing energy and enthusiasm.
His turns as Stacee Jaxx in Rock Of Ages and Len Grossman in Tropic Thunder has shown he is not afraid to take a risk and make himself look silly when the right role comes along. Even before that, Collateral and Magnolia were not the types of characters you would have expected from the actor who played Ethan Hunt and Maverick. Risky Business and The Color Of Money are also two really underrated performances from Cruise.
Vanilla Sky and Minority Report were his first steps into the world of sci-fi, and since then he has produced some of his best work. The Last Samurai and Valkeryie were slight misfires, but not because of Cruise, he gave both of them the full beans. And War Of The Worlds was the perfect everyman/hero performance.
Dave: James nailed it when he said that Cruise is the century’s biggest movie star, he has never been scared of taking on roles that might be viewed as risky, he was widely criticized when he was cast as the vampire Lestat in Interview With The Vampire, a role in which he excelled, his risk taking turn as the misogynistic Frank Mackie is PTA’s brilliant Magnolia really should have seen him bag an academy award or even more recently, when he was cast in the role of literary man mountain Jack Reacher, a role he was over a foot short for. He took on these roles and made them his own.
For me though the role that sums up Cruise isn’t his franchise stalwart Ethan Hunt, or his cocky pilot Maverick but his unforgettable turn as the Sports Agent with a conscience in Jerry Maguire, it reminds off all the reasons we love him. The crazy turn on Oprah aside, he doesn’t take himself too seriously as James pointed out with his roles in Rock of Ages and in particular Tropic Thunder. Other standout roles for me are Vincent in Color of Money, in which we saw early signs of his potential greatness, Charlie Babbitt in Rain Man, a tough role for any actor up against Dustin Hoffman’s stunning performance but he more than holds his own, and Chief Anderson in Spielberg’s thrilling Minority Report.
James’s Favourite Role: Charlie Babbitt, Rain Man (Barry Levinson, 1988)
Like with Tom Hanks, I had to choose one of Cruise’s less flashy roles. Dustin Hoffman (who made the list in part 1) won the Oscar for best actor, but this is my favourite Cruise role – just beating out Jerry Maguire, which of course is at the other extreme! Cruise is the real centre of Rain Man, his character is the one who really needs help, and Cruise’s performance gets me every time.
Dave’s Favourite Role: Daniel Kaffee, A Few Good Men (Rob Reiner, 1992)
“The doctor’s report says Santiago died of asphyxiation brought on by acute lactic acidosis. And that the nature of the acidosis strongly suggests poison. I don’t know what any of that means, but it sounds pretty bad”
Yes, I realise that this is the 3rd time I have chosen a character from this film during this countdown, but I just love it. It is in my Top 5 films of all time (no 3) and I think I have seen it more than any other film. Here, Cruise plays a cocky young naval lawyer with a track record for talking his way out of a trial. He is handed a high-profile murder case that will have high reaching consequences. Cruise is at his cocky confident best here, he was made for this role and more than holds his own against a towering performance from Jack Nicolson. I can pretty much recite every word of this film, to the annoyance of anyone who watched it with me. The above quote sums up the character perfectly, using humour and bluster to cover up the fact that knows much more than he is letting on. A Brilliant performance.
Dan’s Favourite Role: Vincent – Collateral (Michael Mann, 2004)
Welshy’s Favourite Role: Vincent – Collateral (Michael Mann 2004)
No 1. Jason Statham
If you want to watch an action film, Statham is the best there is. And when you watch a Jason Statham film, he always delivers. Always. That is why he has won this vote.
A truly great physical actor – his fight scenes stunt work are the best in the business. He has an intensity that just makes him enjoyable to watch. And he doesn’t take himself seriously at all – as this year’s Spy showed.
But there is always something more in his films, in his performances. There is a film called Homefront from 2013, a pretty typical film with Statham as a man trying to live a quiet life in a small town, who starts getting hassled by the local drug dealer (James Franco). Statham naturally fights back to protect his daughter and you can probably guess the rest. But Statham is so good in this vanilla, cliched role. Sir Kenneth Brannagh loves Statham’s work in The Transporter. The Mechanic is a remake of a Charles Bronson film, and Statham gives a great performance as an assassin, involved in a battle of wits with another killer. And of course there is the break out roles in Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels and Snatch, Statham smashed it out of the park from the get go and has never looked back. He is the reason The Expendables works as more than just a nostalgia piece. Hell, he almost makes In The Name Of The King watchable… almost.
Dave: When we sat down to do this list, we decided, rather than picking the best actors or performances we would go with our favourites, now some times they overlap, but here we have Jason Statham at No. 1. Dan didn’t speak to me or James for a week after the results were in 🙂
For me, the key thing in any film experience (most of the time) is escapism, to watch something for 2 hours and totally forget everything around you, my top 3 actors were Cage, Wahlberg and Statham. Their films are perfect for this.
Getting his start in Guy Ritchie’s Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels as part of the central quartet, he moved into the nominal lead in Ritchie’s second film Snatch. He is a wonderful physical actor and has carved out a nice niche for himself as an action hero, with The Transporter series and as Lee Christmas, the heart of The Expendables. His addition to The Fast and Furious Franchise just upped those movies to a level I didn’t think was possible. Even as a supporting character he is great, in particular as Handsome Rob in The Italian Job remake (with Wahlberg) and excels in the thug role in the underrated Chris Evans vehicle Cellular.
All in all, a guy who makes me watch a film just because he is in it, I have a back log on Netflix as the wife isn’t a fan, which I just can’t understand!
A surprising winner, I am sure you will agree.
James’s Favourite Role: Chev Chelios, Crank (2006, Mark Neveldine & Brian Taylor) & Crank 2 High Voltage (2009, Mark Neveldine & Brian Taylor)
This just edges out Blitz, which is a brutal, realistic British police drama with Statham and Paddy Considine chasing Aidan Gillen’s cop-killer. Everything about Chev Chelios is entertaining, from minute one to the end of the credits of the sequel. It’s a man giving everything to make the film as good as possible. A hitman is injected with a deadly poison, and only adrenaline can keep the lethal drug at bay. Cue an hour and a half of mayhem. The sequel sees a Chinese crime boss steal his heart, replacing it with a synthetic heart, that needs an electric to keep it doing. Cue another hour and a half of mayhem.
Two of the funnest films I have ever seen. One of the great, over the top, fully committed, action-comedy performances.
Dave’s Favourite Role: Turkish, Snatch, (Guy Ritchie, 2000)
“What do I know about diamonds? I’m a boxing promoter, I was a happy boxing promoter until a week ago then: what do I know about diamonds? Don’t they come from Antwerp?”
Snatch was Guy Ritchie’s follow-up to his break out hit Lock Stock, it is a more polished multi layered crime caper with some memorable characters, sure it is an ensemble piece with Brad Pitt, Alan Ford and Dennis Farina in the showy roles, but it is Statham’s Turkish who is the focal point, the narrator who pulls the story together, and along with Stephen Graham’s Tommy are the heroes. He is laid back, cool and calculating, but is not to be messed around. As his character is backed into a corner, he never loses his cool. I am not normally a fan of narration, sometimes it is really grating, but here it is pitch perfect. No 4 on my all time favourite film list and The Stath is a big part of that.
Dan’s Favourite Role: Monk, Mean Machine (Barry Skolnick, 2001)
Welshy’s Favourite Role: Frank Martin, The Transporter, (Corey Yuen, Louis Letterrier, 2002)
What better way to celebrate our number one than this:
Well, there you have it. Surprised? Thank you so much from all The Ushers for reading and allowing us to share some of our favourite actors and performances with you.
Just a quick insight into how we are came to the order of the countdown. We all voted for our Top 10 actors, with each actor getting a score. 1 = 10 points 2= 9 points and so on. If there was a tie, we all voted on which of the tied actor was our favourite. So as a special bonus, here is the Top 10s from each Usher:
- Nicolas Cage
- Mark Wahlberg
- Jason Statham
- Dwayne Johnson
- Humphrey Bogart
- George Clooney
- Tom Cruise
- Kevin Bacon
- Robert Downey, Jnr
- Jason Clarke
- Jack Nicolson
- Bruce Campbell
- Mel Gibson
- Kurt Russell
- Michael Shannon
- Jeff Bridges
- Robin Williams
- Will Ferrell
- Ethan Hawke
- Sean Bean
Just a quick note on my list, I based this on film not TV (so no Bryan Cranston, Rowan Atkinson, or Benedict Cumberbatch), and made a conscious effort to not just choose someone for just 1 great role (so no Daniel Craig or Hugh Jackman). And films I don’t like them in obviously reduces my enjoyment (so the long careers of Nicolson, Pacino and De Niro sort of knocked them off the list, and Matthew McConaughey will be gutted to miss out), but even I recognise I’ve missed out plenty (Bale, McKellen, Chan, so many more). So remember – MY FAVOURITE ACTORS!
- Tom Hanks
- Clint Eastwood
- Jason Statham
- Tom Cruise
- Dustin Hoffman
- George Clooney
- Paul Bettany
- Simon Pegg
- Bill Murray
- Paddy Considine
- Al Pacino
- Steve McQueen
- Matt Damon
- Vincent Cassell
- Edward Norton
- Kevin Bacon
- Gary Oldman
- Jason Isaacs
- Jason Lee
- Jason Clarke