Chris Evans is an actor who has made a career about either being the best part of bad comic book adaptations (Fantastic Four), or one of the best things about ones you instantly recognize (MCU) or ones you may now know are comic book adaptations (Scott Pilgrim, The Losers and Snowpiercer). Evans is certainly most recognizable for his seven appearances as Steve Rogers/Captain America. The Captain America films have been the best individual trilogy of any Marvel Cinematic Universe solo hero, and Evans’s principled, evolving Rogers has been the moral fulcrum of the Avengers. The actor tends to make smaller films when not in superhero mode, the best of which (Gifted) really show both the humor and talented dramatic skills Evans brings to every film in which he takes part.
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Bradley Cooper’s best role may be as an weapons-obsessed, semi-homicidal raccoon, but the actor has put together a solid list of performances in which he is not knee-high and betailed. When Alias exploded on ABC, everyone thought Jennifer Garner was going to be the breakout star from the cast, but, over the years, Cooper has emerged as the most talented member of that fantastic ensemble cast. He’s hit or miss as a leading man, with his best solo performance undoubtedly being sniper Chris Kyle in American Sniper. Where Cooper shines is as part of an ensemble. He works best when paired with other high caliber actors (American Hustle, Silver Linings Playbook) and can easily do drama, comedy, or action. His achievement with Rocket is not glib praise. Cooper completely transforms his voice to play one of the MCU’s most popular characters, and manages to make a character that is silly in concept, a hysterical, often moving example of voice acting at its finest.
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Benedict Cumberbatch, in addition to being one the finest actors working today, possesses THE most English of English names ever to be bestowed upon an Englishman. In case you doubted it was his real name, it’s actually shortened. His full name is Benedict Timothy Carlton Cumberbatch. He has, however, endeared himself to geeks and non-geeks alike by already indelibly visiting the worlds of Tolkien (Smaug and the Necromancer), Star Trek (nobody blames Into Darkness on him), and the MCU (where he is the resident Sorcerer Supreme: Dr. Stephen Strange). Cumberbatch, with his distinctive, mesmerizing voice and talent for squeezing his narrow frame into giant characters both fictional and real (Julian Assange, William Pitt, Alan Turing), has already made a lasting mark on the big screen and small, where he has achieved an impossible feat with Stephan Moffat and Martin Freeman in updating Sherlock Holmes for contemporary times, while still maintaining the spirit of Conan Doyle’s master detective better than any adaptation in my lifetime (if not period).
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Zoe Saldana was originally a ballet dancer before her interest in theater drew her into films. She has been part of, perhaps, three of the best action/adventure films of this millennium in Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl, Star Trek, and Guardians of the Galaxy. Between reinventing Uhura in Star Trek, portraying Gamora in the MCU, and Avatar (and its upcoming four sequels), Saldana has taken the torch from Sigourney Weaver in becoming science fiction’s action queen. Her dance background makes her extremely gifted with fight choreography and in motion capture, and her acting skills don’t require make-up. She’s held her own with Tom Hanks in The Terminal, Mark Ruffalo in Infinitely Polar Bear, and Christian Bale in Out of the Furnace. I hope the grind of the Ava-sequel shoot doesn’t prevent her wholly from doing other films, because she’s always an outstanding addition to any ensemble she joins.
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George Clooney was a journeyman TV actor until he became the initial breakout star from one of the best dramas in TV history: ER. The first five years of ER can stand against any drama, and Clooney’s departure signaled an end to the show’s best creative period. Despite nearly breaking Batman, Clooney quickly transitioned from standard box office fare to more cerebral dramas over which he has exerted more and more control as his career has progressed. Despite a slump over the last few years, Clooney’s resume has more than its share of outstanding films like Michael Clayton, Up in the Air, Goodnight and Good Luck, The Ocean’s Trilogy, The Ides of March, Syriana, and more. Clooney’s acting has improved enormously from his initial days on ER (during which he seemed to rely primarily on head bobbing and smiling) to powerful performances that have justly earned him critical acclaim. Half of his award nominations, though, are for his work behind the camera either as producer, director, or screenwriter. He’s at his best when dealing with complex, intelligent material and in control of as much of the process as possible, which can’t be said for many talents. Continue reading George Clooney’s 10 Best Movies