Greatest Acting Performances On Film

There are hundreds of films with some great acting performances. And many films have amazing performances too. But this list goes through the top 10 all time greatest acting performances to ever be seen on camera.

The Top Ten

Heath Ledger - The Dark Knight Heath Ledger - The Dark Knight Product Image

Heath Ledger literally transformed into this character. I've often challenged people to find Heath Ledger here. It is impossible: he simply is not here. Heath IS the Joker.

I am just one man's opinion, but I will go to my grave believing that this performance should be heralded as the single greatest acting achievement of all time. Nothing else even comes close. He completely steals the show by becoming invisible in the role.

Heath Ledger IS the Joker. His should be the first and last performance people think of when they consider the greatest acting performance of all time.

Every actor will eventually achieve a level of greatness that catapults them to another level. Heath somehow managed to shoot past this level and land on a level that is completely empty and devoid of other performances. He is completely and utterly alone here. No other performer has ever come this close to acting nirvana.

Unfortunately how he did it died with him. There is nothing here ...more

Perhaps the greatest performance of all time. Ledger's Joker is such a brilliantly crafted character: the makeup, the walk, the voice and tone, the little habits such as the hand waiving and the creepy lip-licking and the menacing laugh. However, the one thing that still send shivers up my skin the Joker's exhilarating monologues. The number of characters that have immersed me deeply into movies I can count on my hand. This character is the crowning jewel of the Dark Knight, and is which I personally consider it to be one of the greatest movies of all time.

Well I don't have anything to say I can just watch him all day long. Him as in joker. Who's heath ledger?

The Best Acting I Have Ever Seen in my whole life and I am damn sure I will never ever see a performance like this.

Jack Nicholson - One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest Jack Nicholson - One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest Product Image

Pure BEAUTY. Seeing Jack play this troubled man, but yet good person has never been so touching, and inspiring. Really this performance can be described in three words...THE BASEBALL SCENE!

Perfection, he carried nearly every scene in what might be the greatest indie movie of all time. This is his standout performance among all 12 of his Oscar-nominated performances and three Oscar wins. And since it was for Best Actor (not Best Supporting Actor in the case of Ledger's equally amazing Joker), I've give a slight nod to Jack.

Perfect performance. Even Though he is not a method actor ( he may be), the performance was perfect. He is also the greatest actor of all time, better than daniel day lewis, de niro, pacino. Brando is good too!

Jack Nicholson pretty much managed *PERFECTION*. Heath Ledger's Joker doesn't even come *REMOTELY* close. Though I think Ledger was really good.
A 9.9/10 performance from Nicholson.

Daniel Day-Lewis - There Will Be Blood Daniel Day-Lewis - There Will Be Blood Product Image

The essence of the character and the actor are 2 completely different people

There are many actors who give great performances and bring characters to life. Then there are actors like Daniel Day-Lewis. He is the only actor living today, who can BE a character, and this character is showing the best of his talents. The most impressing accmopishment though, is not just how good this performance is, but how he made a character who is just an oil man so much more then what the character should have been. While Heath Ledger, Marlon Brando and Anthony Hopkins were given roles as The Joker, Head of the most powerful mafia family in New York and a genius cannibalistic psychopath, Daniel was given the role of an oil man.
See the movie and then the Oscar speech for the role. It's unbelievable to think that it's the same person.

Completely transformative role, I didn't see Lewis here - I saw Plainview

What A Performance! I Was Just Amazed At How Well He Put On This Character. Simply Wonderful.

Oscar-Best Actor In A Leading Role

Robert De Niro - Taxi Driver Robert De Niro - Taxi Driver Product Image

I Love This Movie. Mainly Because Of The Script, The Directing and Deniro's Performance. You can See His Sanity Slowly Slipping Throughout The Film, Until He Snaps At The End, Classic.

Oscar-Nominated for Best Actor In A Leading Role

I have never seen an acting performance like this. The way De Niro plays Travis is the perfect mix of madness, deranged, allure and chilling. At his prime, GOAT next to Brando. Only he could play the Don the way Brando perfected it.

No one competes with DeNiro. He is the greatest.

He is an acting God!

Marlon Brando - The Godfather Marlon Brando - The Godfather Product Image

Wow. I just can't believe that this incredible piece of actin has been out voted by a pretty boy in a pirate suit. To be fair, I love Pirates of the Caribbean but Orlando Bloom doing okay in the same role for three movies does not make him fit to surpass perhaps the most appropriately done for the film acting performance ever. Marlon Brando made The Godfather. For him to be passed is ridiculous.

If you would just watch how he immerses himself into the Godfather you will how amazing it is, And he is not even Italian but Native American, and he was 48 when he done this movie, and with such pride and effort into his work it became the greatest acting performance of all time

This is by far the greatest performance on film, Marlon Brando has given his all in this role. He well deserved oscar win, for one of the greatest actors in history

Marlon Brando is iconic, he is at his best, and who the h* voted for Orlando Bloom and not Brando, R.I.P, you gave us all you had in this movie

Tom Hanks - Forrest Gump Tom Hanks - Forrest Gump Product Image

Tom Hanks was brilliant as Forrest Gump! Life is like a box of chocolate indeed!

It's a most amazing performance by any actor on the planet I was moved each part of the movie is to perform to perfection and it makes me cry each time I see it I don't have words to tell it's so heart touching and feel real and how to be a nice and innocent man should act its greatest performance of all time.

Tom Hanks is known by many as one of the greatest actors to ever be on film, although I don't think this is completely true I would definitely put him on my top 10 list.

Heath Ledger was good as the Joker, but he is quite overpraised. Tom Hanks, on the other hand, proved in Forrest Gump that performances don't need gritty intensity all the time to be great.

Anthony Hopkins - The Silence of the Lambs Anthony Hopkins - The Silence of the Lambs Product Image

And the Oscar should’ve gone to... Without hardly ever raising his voice, Hopkins knew how to send a chill down your spine and make your heart pound out of your chest. Fantastic performance!

This IS acting. To be able to create the most infamous villain of the late 20th century, with the british pressure actually naming a real serial killer after his character, with only 16 minutes of screen time is a true accomplishment. The creepiest portrayal of a serial killer since Norman bates, and given that he created a character that was scarier than Freddy Krueger or Jason voorhees even when incarcerated, their is no contest

This performance stays with you.

Great movie and great acting. The scariest film I know!

Malcolm McDowell - A Clockwork Orange Malcolm McDowell - A Clockwork Orange Product Image

He was so good, people thought he was actually crazy and was type cast for much of his career since. Fantastic acting, improvisation and narration

One of the greatest performances of all time. McDowell manages to find a middle ground between insane and charming, a charisma that is a pleasure to watch.

Such A Strange Movie, But One Of My Favourites, Alex Is A Freakish Twisted Character, And Malcolm Plays Him Dead On.


This one gets overlooked far to often, while agree with your #1 Alex should be in the top 10

Al Pacino - Scarface Al Pacino - Scarface Product Image

He is god of acting

Not the best by Al Pacino, but the second.
I won't say anything else.

Tony Montana is Immortal đź‘Źđź‘Ź

Eli Wallach - The Good, the Bad and the Ugly Eli Wallach - The Good, the Bad and the Ugly Product Image

With a ton of energy, tenacity, pure luck, emotional investment and pitch perfect comic timing, Tuco was almost literally a role to die for. He was Wallach's hardest role, but it was by far his most rewarding.

As far as sound movies go, this performance is #1.

The Newcomers

? Beulah Bondi - Make Way for Tomorrow Beulah Bondi - Make Way for Tomorrow Product Image
? James Garner - Support Your Local Gunfighter James Garner - Support Your Local Gunfighter Product Image

The Contenders

Christoph Waltz - Inglourious Basterds Christoph Waltz - Inglourious Basterds Product Image

Anyone who has seen this movie must admire this performance. Waltz is just so natural in this role is not even funny.

Best supporting actor of all time. Funny, sadistic, crazy and scary.

Great actor, great role, deserves to be higher

This is the best performance in a Tarantino movie.

Stefán Karl Stefánsson - Polite People

He is number one


number 1

Stefánsson gives a wonderfully subdued performance in this unique comedy-drama.

Anthony Perkins - Psycho Anthony Perkins - Psycho Product Image

This DESERVES to be in the top 5.

It's truly groundbreaking and ahead of its time

Ralph Fiennes - Schindler's List Ralph Fiennes - Schindler's List Product Image

One of the best supporting performances.

Greatest in history, quite simply

Ralph the Great

Acting genius

Toshiro Mifune - Seven Samurai Toshiro Mifune - Seven Samurai Product Image

Brimming with endless energy, Mifune plays the tragicomic Kikuchiyo with a lot of depth and more candid emotion than anyone could ask for.

Al Pacino - The Godfather Al Pacino - The Godfather Product Image

He was better than Marlon Brando in his role, but still you can't give credit away from Brando in his role as the Don, he was so excellent. Both of these performances top ten. This movie launched Pacino's career and almost got him an oscar.

I think this is the most natural by al pachino by any movies he has been on

He puts all the other cast characters in their place at the climax of the film. How he didn't score the Oscar is beyond me.

Pacino changed the way people acted. He perfected every role he had through the 70's and 80's. Acting in such a way we have not seen very often. Brando will always be the Don, but Pacino perfected it.

Song Kang-ho - The Host Song Kang-ho - The Host Product Image

Plays tender man-child Gang-du so effortlessly.

Denzel Washington - Malcolm X Denzel Washington - Malcolm X Product Image

No way Seth Rogen should be higher then Denzel and I love the guy. This work was pure genius

John C. Reilly - Chicago John C. Reilly - Chicago Product Image
Samuel L. Jackson - Pulp Fiction Samuel L. Jackson - Pulp Fiction Product Image

Jackson plays Jules as the straight man to the more impulsive and slightly dim Vincent, a character who, when he's not intimidating his employer's targets, is very easy-going and introspective. Jackson performs with wit and profound maturity.

"Say what again, I dare you, I double dare you motherf***er! "

Does he look like a b****?!?

Leonardo DiCaprio - The Departed Leonardo DiCaprio - The Departed Product Image

Just definitely the full package. This character feels so real it is not funny. Leo can really maintain his realism in this movie.

An amazing realistic performance, kind of reminds you of the average person with debt problems and anxiety!

Leo was extraordinary in this film, how he showed the anxiety and the constant fear his character facing is out of this world. One of my favorite films ever!

The most legendary role of Leo DiCaprio. The realism in this character is so intense and he keeps you on the edge of your seat.

Tim Robbins - The Shawshank Redemption Tim Robbins - The Shawshank Redemption Product Image

One of the greatest acting performance of all time, Robbins and his mind blowing and just perfect picture of Andy Dufresne is unquestionable

best ever

Samuel Vincent - Torn: Dark Bullets

To the family man aspect of Pearce, Vincent brings his usual down-to-earth charm, which makes the fact that Pearce is a racist who doesn't know it all the more unsettling. At times Pearce does randomly shout but it's to show how unhinged he is. Other times he's soft-spoken and deadly, almost malevolent.
Vincent burns up the screen with quiet rage.

Vivien Leigh - Gone With the Wind Vivien Leigh - Gone With the Wind Product Image

Nobody comes close

As much as I love Marilyn Monroe as well as others on this list, I don't see how they are ranked about Vivien Leigh's legendary performance as Scarlett O'Hara.

One of the best oscar winners of all timd

The greatest acting performance of all time. Watch her many many facial expressions when she is happy,sad,angry,worried,jealous,scared,seductive,playful,sexually satisfied, etc.etc.

Jason Miller - The Exorcist
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