Over the years, many great actors have portrayed many great people. There’s also been a good few movies produced which focus on those most evil and notorious. It’s incredibly tedious a task to shortlist just 10 such performances as being the best, but something that must be done.
10. Phillip Seymour Hoffman as Lester Bangs in ‘Almost Famous’
An under-rated actor taking up the role of an under-rated literary and pop culture figure. Although not the lengthiest or most central role in the movie, Hoffman portrays rock writer Lester Bangs with an even mix of humour, insight, tragedy and radicalism. Acting as a mentor for the young protagonist, Hoffman’s role brings to life an important figure in music criticism in a very imaginative and effective manner.
9. Jesse Eisenberg as Mark Zuckerberg in ‘The Social Network’
In this movie marking the rise to prominence of the ominous and all-consuming Facebook, the role of creator Mark Zuckerberg is played authentically by a young man at the top of his game. Although the real Zuckerberg denies the likenesses (in most cases very forcefully) put forward by the film, it is non-the-less a very entertaining watch- documenting the rise of a modern wonder from day one until now.
8. Forest Whitaker as Idi Amin in ‘The Last King of Scotland’
Whitaker tackles this role as 1970’s Ugandan dictator/psychopath Idi Amin as though he was born to. Doing extremely well to animate a repressor who gained notoriety worldwide for his apparent charm and fondness of genocide in equal measure, Whitaker really made his mark with this joint lead shared by an up and coming James McAvoy- even snatching an Oscar for Best Actor in the process.
7. Ray Liotta as Henry Hill in ‘Goodfellas’
Who doesn’t love a good gangster flick? Who doesn’t love said gangster flick even more if it’s based on true events? Exactly. Ray Liotta made his breakthrough with this portrayal of mob foot-soldier Henry Hill, who was active in New York’s famous criminal underworld during the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s. Far from being the only outstanding performance to be seen in this movie (Robert DeNiro and Joe Pesci co-star, of course) Liotta pulls off Hill as a purely charismatic and self-justified hoodlum, getting into all sorts of trouble with his equally intriguing friends and foes alike. Excellent role, excellent film
6. Leonardo DiCaprio as Frank Abegnale Jr, in ‘Catch Me If You Can’
Steven Spielberg directs this biographical crime film which tells the story of the famous Frank Abegnale Jnr. A teenage con-artist who successfully passed himself off as a Pan-Am pilot, a doctor and a lawyer, turning over millions of dollars in fraudulent cheques in the process- all the while on the run from the law. DiCaprio captures the precarious nature of Frank with stunning vividness, giving a performance which contrasts the extreme confidence and insecurity of the character effectively. Tom Hanks and Christopher Walken co-star as the cop chasing his paper trail and the estranged, perhaps responsible father.