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15 Best Actors Of The Decade

As we bid farewell to the 2010s, Close-up Culture’s James Prestridge names his 15 best film actors of the decade.

Let us know your favourite actor of the decade in the comment section below!


15) Florence Pugh – *BEST FILMS* The Falling (2014), Lady Macbeth (2016), Fighting With My Family (2018), Midsommar (2019), Little Women (2019)

Pugh’s rise in the second half of the decade has been nothing short of incredible. Two underappreciated British films (The Falling and Lady Macbeth) demonstrated her captivating talent before she took mainstream cinema by storm in the last two years. The 23 year old’s transformative performance in Midsommar is one of the most compelling of the decade.

14) Mahershala Ali – The Place Beyond The Pines (2012), Free State Of Jones (2016), Moonlight (2016), Hidden Figures (2016), Green Book (2018), Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse (2018)

Ali would be higher on this list had he been given more of the lead roles he deserves. The 45 year old showed the type of breath-taking and impactful performances he is capable of in Green Book and Moonlight.

13) Jennifer Lawrence – Winter’s Bone (2010), The Hunger Games (2012), Silver Linings Playbook (2012), American Hustle (2013), Mother! (2017)

Lawrence emerged as Hollywood’s golden child at the start of the decade, following her striking performance in Winter’s Bone. That quickly led to her being the face of The Hunger Games franchise – which she handled impressively. That being said, Lawrence’s collaborations with Bradley Cooper and director David O. Russell produced her best work of the 2010s.

12) Christian Bale – The Fighter (2010), The Dark Knight Rises (2012), American Hustle (2013), The Big Short (2015), Hostiles (2017), Vice (2018)

Whether he’s an lean race car driver or an overweight politician, Bale dives so deep into his character that it makes almost all of his films unmissable experiences. It’s this level of dedication that makes every detail of his performances, even meticulously piecing together a combover, fascinating to watch.

11) Jake Gyllenhaal – Source Code (2011), End Of Watch (2012), Prisoners (2013), Nightcrawler (2014), Nocturnal Animals (2016), Okja (2017), Stronger (2017), Wildlife (2018), Spider-Man: Far From Home (2019)

A number of intense and powerful performances cemented Gyllenhaal’s place as one of the best actors around. His work on Prisoners, Nightcrawler and Nocturnal Animals were particular highlights.

10) Ryan Gosling – Blue Valentine (2010), Drive (2011),The Place Beyond The Pines (2012), The Big Short (2015), The Nice Guys (2016), La La Land (2016), Blade Runner 2049 (2018), First Man (2018)

This has been a decade filled with interesting and diverse roles for Gosling – from a balding divorcee in Blue Valentine to history-making astronaut in First Man. It’s also important to shine a light on his brilliant portrayals of quiet heroes in Drive and Blade Runner 2049.

9) Marion Cotillard – Inception (2010), Midnight In Paris (2011), Rust And Bone (2012), Two Days, One Night (2014), It’s Only The End Of The World (2016)

Cotillard added to her glowing reputation with two magnificent performances – in Rust And Bone and Two Days, One Night – this decade. An extraordinary actress.

8) Emma Stone – Easy A (2010), The Help (2011), The Amazing Spider-Man (2012), Birdman (2014), La La Land (2016), The Favourite (2018)

The latter three films mentioned have turned Stone’s decade from impressive to outstanding. The 31 year old has a special talent for injecting incredible life, authenticity and energy into her films. Qualities that give her a spellbinding on-screen presence.

7) Natalie Portman – Black Swan (2010), I’m Still Here (2010), Jackie (2016), Annihilation (2018), Vox Lux (2018)

Portman set the standard for the decade scarily high with her relentless performance in Black Swan. Unfortunately, her breath-taking performances in Jackie and Annihilation gathered nowhere near the acclaim they deserved.

6) Joaquin Phoenix – I’m Still Here (2010), The Master (2012), Her (2013), You Were Never Really Here (2018), Joker (2019)

Interestingly, it is Phoenix’s gentle performance in Her that stands out against his other striking roles this decade.

5) Saoirse Ronan – Hanna (2011), How I Live Now (2013), The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014), Brooklyn (2015), Loving Vincent (2017), Lady Bird (2017), Mary Queen Of Scots (2018), Little Women (2019)

It has been a joy for cinema-goers to witness Ronan’s growth as an actor through the 2010s. The mature and mesmerising performances she has produced in the second half of the decade – particularly Brooklyn and her two films with director Greta Gerwig – suggest Ronan will be a leading force for many years to come.

4) Rooney Mara – The Social Network (2010), The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo (2011), Ain’t Them Bodies Saints (2013), Side Effects (2013), Her (2013), Carol (2015), Una (2016), Lion (2016), A Ghost Story (2017)

Mara brings a unique quality to the big-screen – something director Benedict Andrews referred to in a Q&A for Una. Carol might be her best and most notable performance of the 2010s, but both of her works with David Lowery – Ain’t Them Bodies Saints and A Ghost Story – produce the same level of piercing poignancy and beauty.

3) Amy Adams – The Fighter (2010), The Master (2012), Her (2013), American Hustle (2013), Arrival (2016), Nocturnal Animals (2016), Vice (2018)

It is nothing short of maddening that Adams has not won an Academy Award this decade. Her performance in Arrival is our pick for the best of the decade – and all of the above roles would also look deserving near the top of that list.

2) Leonardo DiCaprio – Shutter Island (2010), Inception (2010), Django Unchained (2012), The Great Gatsby (2013), The Wolf Of Wall Street (2013), The Revenant (2015), Once Upon A Time In Hollywood (2019)

This decade saw DiCaprio win his elusive first Oscar, but the reality is he could have easily picked up another two or three. An outstanding run of films and performances that push him into the same category as Bogart, Nicholson and Brando.

1) Kristen Stewart – Welcome To Rileys (2010), Clouds Of Sils Maria (2014), Still Alice (2014), Certain Women (2016), Personal Shopper (2016), Lizzie (2018)

Stewart rose above the noise of Twilight haters to prove she is the most captivating actor in the world right now. Her work with Olivier Assayas – on Clouds Of Sils Maria and Personal Shopper – gave us two of the finest performances of the 2010s. Both of which showcased her electric on-screen presence and special charisma. She also turned in standout performances in Welcome To Riley, Still Alice and Certain Women.

Stewart is truly a once-in-a-generation talent.


Check out the 25 best film performances of the 2010s

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