As 2010 turns to 2011, it’s that time of year for the year-end entertainment countdowns. Earlier this week I offered my picks for The Top 5 Actresses of 2010, and now I’ve compiled a list of the top give actors. These aren’t necessarily the best performances of 2010, but the actors who have had the best year in terms of current and future projects.
Who are your top actors of 2010? Do you agree with my picks? Who did I leave off the list who deserved a spot? Sound off in the comments section. But first, on with the countdown.
Honorable mention — The cast of “The Social Network”
David Fincher cast so many talented young actors in his take on the founding of Facebook that it’s impossible to highlight the achievements of one without mentioning the others. One particular standout from the cast made the top five list, but all of them have bright futures ahead of them.
Jesse Eisenberg, who was primarily known for awkward but likable Michael Cera-esque roles in “Zombieland” and “Adventureland,” proved he has serious acting chops as the narcissistic, highly motivated Mark Zuckerberg. Justin Timberlake should have no trouble transitioning from music to the big screen thanks to his portrayal of paranoid entrepreneur Sean Parker. And Armie Hammer is particularly impressive pulling double duty as both Cameron and Tyler Winkelvoss.
Next up, Eisenberg has the comedy “30 Minutes or Less” and the indie “Free Samples,” Timberlake is filming the sci-fi romance “Now” and has the comedies “Friends with Benefits” and “Bad Teacher” and Hammer was just cast in Clint Eastwood’s “J. Edgar.”
5. Leonardi DiCaprio (“Shutter Island,” “Inception”)
DiCaprio hit the jackpot this year with not one but two mind-bending films from powerhouse directors. He kicked off the year with his go-to director Martin Scorsese in the thriller “Shutter Island” and scored box office gold in the summer with Christopher Nolan’s sci-fi epic “Inception.” Next up, he’ll continue his streak as the star of choice for big-time directors as J. Edgar Hoover in Clint Eastwood’s biopic “J. Edgar,” alongside Hammer.
4. Jeff Bridges (“Tron Legacy,” “True Grit”)
Bridges has had quite a year. He kicked off 2010 with an Oscar win for “Crazy Heart” and followed it up with two box office victories at the end of the year. He clearly has fun reprising his role as programmer Kevin Flynn in “Tron Legacy,” and he’s earning Oscar buzz for the second year in a row thanks to his portrayal of drunk and determined Rooster Cogburn in “True Grit.” Bridges doesn’t have any movies lined up for 2011 yet, but something tells me unless he just wants to take a break, he’ll have his pick of potential projects.
3. Tom Hardy (“Inception”)
Hardy has been working steadily since he landed a role in the mini-series “Band of Brothers” in 2001, but few people knew his name until his breakthrough role in Christopher Nolan’s “Inception.” As the wisecracking forger Eames, Hardy stole every scene he was in. Nolan clearly approved of his performance, as he quickly cast him in an unspecified role in “The Dark Knight Rises,” possibly as Hugo Strange. With four other projects lined up for 2011 and 2012, the appreciation for Hardy’s work extended to directors beyond Nolan. He has lead roles in “Warrior,” “This Means War,” “Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy” and “The Wettest County in the World.”
2. James Franco (“Date Night,” “Eat Pray Love,” “Howl” and “127 Hours”)
Franco has quickly transformed from Spider-Man’s sidekick/nemesis to a quirky Jack of All Trades. With four films in theaters in 2010, including his buzzed about performance as Aron Ralston in “127 Hours,” Franco made his mark this year in everything from comedies to indies. He also reprised his role as a devious artist named, of course, Franco on the soap opera “General Hospital,” released a book of short stories called “Palo Alto” and enrolled at Yale to pursue his Ph.D. in English. Hollywood’s biggest overachiever will also co-host the Oscars this year with Anne Hathaway and has four films in the works for 2011, starting with the medieval stoner comedy “Your Highness.”
1. Andrew Garfield (“Never Let Me Go,” “The Social Network”)
2010 was a year in which many young actors rose from unknown status to stars in their own right, and Garfield was the leader of the pack. He dominated the fall awards season with two notable performances in the dystopian drama “Never Let Me Go” and Facebook flick “The Social Network.” Particularly as ousted Facebook co-founder Eduardo Saverin, Garfield exhibited a charm and command of performance that showed his truly leading man potential. Director Marc Webb took notice and cast Garfield as Peter Parker in his reboot of “Spider-Man,” despite taking some flak for casting a 27-year-old as the teen-aged Parker. But with a superhero blockbuster in the works and Oscar buzz for “The Social Network,” Garfield clearly isn’t going away any time soon.
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