By Séamus Smyth

5. Denzel Washington

Nobody communicates such paramount emotion with only a concentrated stare like Denzel. Washington can play the craziest mofo on the planet (see Training Day,) or a beyond-loyal father in John Q, all with a determination scarcely seen in Hollywood. With every film, Washington demands that the audience steps inside a world of uncensored truth and humility. He can carry any movie because he just doesn’t stop caring, which forces the audience to temporarily mimic his intensity.

4. Matt Damon

Not only one of the most sincere, but easily one of the most intelligent actors of the decade. He managed to overcome the ridicule that bestowed him in the cartoon-comedy Team America, and has continued to remain one of the most respected actors of the era. Damon can be red-faced serious, but also knee-slapping hilarious because unlike Brad Pitt and Leo DiCaprio, Damon comes across as the dude banging on your backdoor with a case of beer in tow.

3. Leonardo DiCaprio

Nobody believed him when he roared “I’m the King of the world,” as his ascent to the throne was a long and arduous path. But DiCaprio was the poster boy that refused to be type-casted after a career-defining performance in Titanic. He wisely and patiently waited for the premier directors to start buzzing him. And they did. Spielberg enlisted Leo in Catch me if you can, and Martin Scorsese would groom DiCaprio to be a re-engineered Bobby DeNiro for a new generation. His one and only downfall is his persistent, almost obsessive decision to continue to choose movies that he thinks the Academy Awards will favour. It has resulted in Leo sometimes choosing roles that leave the crowd yearning for a mattress.

2. Christian Bale

He is the American psycho. He is the Terminator. And least forgettable of all, he is the Batman. Being able to list these three titles on one’s resume not only equals immediate job offerings, but earns instantaneous credit from any respectable man or woman.  Bale doesn’t just seek out strange and complex characters, he craves them. He willingly lost a dangerous amount of weight, (see The Machinist) to gaining so much muscle that the Directors of Batman actually had to ask him to slim down a bit, which all demonstrates his ruthless dedication to his craft. There is a natural mystery surrounding Bale, a trait that can’t be bought or taught, but just a divine-inserted gene located deep in his DNA.

1. Brad Pitt

What separates Pitt from the wolf pack is his persistent knack to refuse any role that he does not perceive as a challenge. His list of already iconic characters should put him in the same paragraph as Brando and De Niro, expect not even these two can compete with the range that Pitt travels. If he had begun to flop after Seven and Fight Club, Pitt would still be considered an icon, no longer how brief that period was. But he didn’t stall at these two aphotic sagas, in fact, quite the opposite.  Pitt decided to fly back in time for Troy, adopt a harsh, almost indecipherable accent in Snatch, and even hang out with Julia Roberts in Mexico. It’s not cliché, but a matter of fact, that Pitt is getting astonishingly better with age. Babel, Inglorious Bastards, and The Assassination of Jesse James, are all respectable candidates for his best work and all equate to the most polished and decadent selection of films of any actor over the past ten years.