1- Katherine Hepburn
2- Audrey Hepburn
3- Grace Kelly
4- Meryl Streep
5- Greta Garbo
6- Cate Blanchett
7- Kate Winslet
8- Ingrid Bergman
9- Lauren Bacall
10- Janet Leigh
1- Katherine Hepburn
1- James Stewart
2- Cary Grant
3- Humphrey Bogart
4- Marlon Brando
5- John Wayne
6- Clark Gable
7- James Cagney
8- James Dean
9- Heath Ledger
10- Tom Cruise
Last 60 years, people. No Cary Grant or Jimmy Stew or any of the usual suspects of the Golden age.
This is just my opinion, of course. Acting and all things to do with movies are 100% subjective.
5- Robert DeNiro- Raging Bull-
One of the best transformational performances you will ever see. DeNiro embodies the character he plays to a tee and his ferocity and screen presence are unrelenting.
4- Heath Ledger- The Dark Knight-
Quite possibly the most singularly iconic performance by any actor in cinema history. Ledger immerses himself into his role by completely changing his voice, his laugh, his body language/ mannerisms, and even his facial expressions. He turns an otherwise cartoonish character into a force of nature.
3- Dustin Hoffman- Tootsie-
Funny, charming, and charismatic all wrapped up into one. The sight of Dustin Hoffman prancing around dressed as a woman still causes me nightmares to this day.
2- Daniel Day Lewis- My Left Foot-
Never before has an actor so thoroughly portrayed someone who suffers from a mental or physical disability. There is so much room for error when playing a character like the one DDL played, and yet Mr. Lewis “nails” the part.
1- Heath Ledger- Brokeback Mountain-
Very rarely do you see a young actor give a performance with so much going on underneath the surface. Mr. Ledger does a fantastic job balancing emotional outbursts (Why don’t you just let me be, huh?”) with inner emotional conflict. One of the few examples of a truly flawless performance.
For some people, movies are just a way to pass the time. For others, they are a way to escape your problems and disappear into a world of adventure, thrills, and excitement.
No matter what your relationship is with the world of cinema or what kind of movies you like to watch, the vast majority of us agree on one thing… they don’t make movies like they used to.
For the record, I am not just talking about old, retro-loving geezers. I am talking about everybody. Even the stars of today admit that cinema was at its finest back in the days of the true icons- James Cagney, James Stewart, Audrey Hepburn, Katherine Hepburn, Cary Grant, etc.
There are many talented and brilliant actors and actresses working today- Clooney, Pitt, Depp, Hathaway, etc. But these people pale in comparison to the legends of old (something most of today’s actors admit themselves). The reason for today’s Hollywood roster not living up to the Golden age’s icons is quite simple- the old star system that died out in 60’s needs to come back. That same star system that fell by the wayside when actors and actresses grew tired of being contracted to one studio and decided that a free agent system was much better for them and their “artistic” ways.
Nowadays, success in Hollywood is determined by who has the most connections within the industry and who started working when they were very young. You need to pander to casting directors and pay their friends to give you “classes” to even get into a room to audition for a role. Gone are the days when men and women were plucked out of obscurity from the ranks of theater performers to screen test for major studios for the chance to win a contract.
That’s how it used to work. You were spotted by a scout. You came in for a screen test. If they liked you and found that you had that “IT” factor which consists of charisma and charm and other movie star qualities, you would be given a contract and be guaranteed film parts to see if audiences could relate to you and support you. Until that process returns, Hollywood will never return to its peak, to its dominance and prominence.
The days of the “artist” need to die and the days of the “movie stars” need to return. Only then will Hollywood return to its glory days. Until then, There won’t be any Audrey Hepburns or Gregory Pecks. There won’t be any stars or starlets who come out of nowhere and become the darlings of audiences all over the world.
Look no further than the world of reality TV for proof of this- random people becoming stars overnight because America and the rest of the world wants to see the average Joe making it big. They don’t want to see overly trained “thespians” who needed years of classes just to understand how to spit out one line of dialogue. They don’t want to see stiff, mechanical performs who lack any charm or charisma or grace.
While I still do love today’s world of Hollywood, I fear for its future. A future where the only movies people care to see are the ones that feature dozens of mindless explosions and pointless CGI. What happened to the days of people coming out in droves to see the new Bogart film, or the new Cary Grant film? Are the days of the movie star really gone?
For now, all we can do is hope that the Hollywood big shots come to their senses and realize that the reason for the lack of new stars isn’t that there aren’t any talented people left, it’s that the free agent system for actors and actresses makes it impossible for anyone without significant connections to break into the business.
Let’s go back to the old days, the glory days. Let’s bring back the studio system/ star system. Let’s go back to the days of studios signing actors and actresses to contracts and then featuring them in a handful of films to see if they have that ever elusive “IT” factor. Let’s go back to the days of plucking people out of obscurity and turning them into stars by creating false names and manufacturing fake backgrounds. Until then, Hollywood will only be average. It will never be great, and it will never compare to the Golden age.