It’s all too common to hear things about the death of cinema these days. Too much saturation, too many sequels, not enough originality. These are the charges levelled; and they are fair ones. It’s true that cinema ‘isn’t what it was’ - whatever that means - but while it’s easy to lament, it’s just as easy to see that one aspect of cinema is booming: the acting.
Not since the golden age of cinematic performance (the late 60s and 70s) have the movies had such a rich bench of acting talent, and, while the guys on this list might fall slightly short of the level set by De Niro, Pacino, Nicholson and co., the fact remains that today’s leading men (if you can call them that) are a damn-fine bunch of performers.
With that said, let’s set some criteria for the list that will follow: these are all actors who have come to prominence in the last decade or so. While they might have appeared in big films before this time, it is only since 2005 that they have truly hit the proverbial heights; whether that be as leading men or character actors or something in between. For this reason, names that would otherwise appear on any list of great, working actors - Brad Pitt, Leonardo Di Caprio, George Clooney, Ethan Hawke, Christian Bale - miss out by proxy.
With no further ado, here are the 10 Greatest Actors Alive (And Currently Working).
10. Jack O'Connell
Jack O’Connell has come a long way since Skins, a show he was routinely the only thing worth watching for. A volatile presence, he combines his natural, working-class, jack-the-lad Englishness with something more approaching star quality—as made evident by Angelina Jolie’s casting of him in her failed war-time epic, Unbroken.
As Louis Zamperini, O’Connell showed his movie-star potential, but his true nature lies in smaller, darker, ultimately more unsettling fare. He was magnetic in ’71, one of last year’s most underrated films, and he was a true phenomenon in Starred Up, a performance which looks set to define him. Those films showed O’Connell in all his combustible energy, and, at only 24, there should be plenty more to come from an actor who provides a welcome respite from the WASP-ish talents of British cohorts like Eddie Redmayne and Benedict Cumberbatch.
See Him In: The Runaway: a TV mini-series based on the Martina Cole novel of the same name.