Who's The Man? Great Movie Actors
May 8, 2003 1:44 AM   Subscribe

De Niro non disputandis est or, in English, don't fuck with Bobby De Niro. Which is what the English have been doing recently, naming Al Pacino as the greatest movie star of all time. Askmen.com is a little more appreciative but also brackets Pacino with De Niro. The American Film Institute [pdf format] will be giving De Niro their 31st Lifetime Achievement Award on June 12 but - there they go again - he's merely described as "widely regarded as one of the most skillful actors of the last three decades". Is nothing sacred anymore? Who's the man [read "of a certain age, experience and cojones"], after all? I mean, after Jack Nicholson, of course. Now I'm all confused!
posted by Carlos Quevedo (31 comments total)
I would agree had I not somehow managed to have seen both Rocky and Bullwinkle and Analyze That.

After those two, he should be grateful for his second banana status.
posted by Space Coyote at 2:02 AM on May 8, 2003

Ever seen 'Sea of Love'? *shudder*

I have to say that it's impossible to toss every actor in the same top 100. No way does a young Ewan McGregor top Cary Grant.

Nicholson is another obvious choice. Where's Walken? Brad Pitt just after Steve McQueen? It's a bit apple and orange-ish isn't it?

I can also overlook DeNiro's 'Frankenstein' and that other disaster film where he couldn't talk, but he still has some winners to his credit.

(Drat. DeNiro's recent Canadian museum-robber fiasco flick was a lost cause too. Tough call.)
posted by hama7 at 2:41 AM on May 8, 2003

Very male-dominated. I'm not sure whether this is down to the kind of people voting (male film geeks I would guess) or the kind of roles offered to women in Hollywood. A bit of both I think. Strange that when I think of great female movie stars - Bette Davis, Vivien Leigh, Katherine Hepburn, Jane Russell, Jean Harlow - they're all from at least fifty years ago. What have we got now? Julia Roberts? Nicole Kidman? Halle frigging Berry? Empty vessels, all of them.
posted by Summer at 3:50 AM on May 8, 2003

you wrote 'fuck' on the Front Page

(as SpaceCoyote poited out, because of stuff like "Analyze That" DeNiro has no credibility anymore. I like money too, but, really, he should have more respect for his talent and the great movies he made when he was young)
posted by matteo at 3:59 AM on May 8, 2003

Juliette Binoche
Edward Norton

I've always felt there needed to be an Academy award for "Best Actor - For His/Her Last Five Films". Give some credit to those rare souls who could string together five good performances.
posted by ?! at 4:44 AM on May 8, 2003

Before everyone gets all precious over who should & shouldn't be above whoever else, I'll point out that the vote was for the 100 greatest movie stars. Being an ac-tor isn't the only part of being a movie star and the producers probably worded the title to reflect the anticipated popularity contest. And of course contemporary stars will have the advantage over past/dead ones.

I'll agree with hama7 (eek! ;-) on the apples & oranges of the list but that's probably a good thing. If it had been compiled by movie critics or actors it could have been too worthy. No matter how much some people may dislike Arnie, Tom Hanks, Julia Roberts or whoever, there is no denying that they are big stars who could crush us like the bugs we are should they wish.

PS Carlos: It was a poll for a British TV channel.
posted by i_cola at 4:55 AM on May 8, 2003

After those two, he should be grateful for his second banana status.

Second banana to the star of S1mone? Meh, De Niro/Pacino/Nicholson do the one thing they do really well but they have no range. Give me a Peter O'Toole or Johnny Depp or Meryl Streep etc. etc. any day. These are performers who are almost always a surprise. For quite awhile I didn't realize that Depp was one of my favorite actors because the characters he played would push him to the side. I always know I'm watching De Niro, even when he puts on thirty pounds or shaves his head.
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 4:56 AM on May 8, 2003

I'll point out that the vote was for the 100 greatest movie stars.

Then I'll just add that Shannon Tweed wuz robbed.

posted by PinkStainlessTail at 5:01 AM on May 8, 2003

disputandis off, miggy! :-)
posted by quonsar at 5:08 AM on May 8, 2003

What i_cola said really, I voted in this and specifically remember not picking people based purely on how well they acted, but the whole package, such as looks, charisma and other vacuous ways in which we define a "movie star".
You had to pick ten people and I'll be buggered if I can remember who I voted for. I know both De Niro* and Pacino were in there, along with James Stewart and I think Christopher Walken.
Yes, very male dominated, but that's Hollywood for you.

* I know, he's a caricature now, especially how he repeats everything he says when he's trying to be a tough guy, but still, it's Robert De Niro, how could you not put him on the list? How could you not put him on the list, huh? How could you not put him on the fucking list? The fucking list, how could you not put him on it?
posted by chill at 5:28 AM on May 8, 2003

ewan mcgregor, no way.
his best role was waiting tables in gennaros.
posted by sgt.serenity at 5:46 AM on May 8, 2003

I would agree had I not somehow managed to have seen both Rocky and Bullwinkle and Analyze That.

My God, I was going to suggest that any man who was in Midnight Run could not be considered a movie 'star', but you've beaten me with those.

Midnight Run was quite good actually. SPOILER: It has that guy from The Matrix, GTAIII and who played Ralph in The Sopranos in it as well.

And also hobo train gags, which, as The Simpsons and Futurama have taught us, are always funny.
posted by tapeguy at 6:17 AM on May 8, 2003

How about John Cazale, of Dog Day Afternoon, The Godfather parts I and II and The Deer Hunter (which he made while dying)?

He only ever acted in four mainstream films before his death in the late 1970's and was overshadowed by the legends of his friends DeNiro and Pacino, but he was probably better than them (and I think they've said as much too).

He's always been ignored, and I think it's tragic. His final scenes as Fredo Corleone are genius.
posted by tomcosgrave at 6:31 AM on May 8, 2003

Who is or was the greatest movie star in all time?

Charlie Chaplin. Hands down.
posted by cx at 6:35 AM on May 8, 2003

In answer to the question, Miguel, you're my hero.

Oh wait, is this the right thread?...
posted by soyjoy at 6:48 AM on May 8, 2003

Ok, if this is "star" power and not just acting. Then De Niro and Pacino belong nowhere near the top of this list.

I can't believe that Charlie Chaplin (50) and John Wayne (56) would be so low. And Joan Crawford, Douglas Fairbanks, Mary Pickford, Mary Astor are not on the list at all.

This list would be better named "90 People Currently Making Movies and 10 Dead People"

But lists like these never really make much sense anyway.
posted by obfusciatrist at 6:54 AM on May 8, 2003

Of all time? I'm partial to Buster Keaton myself.

On the actresses just I want to say it's tough for me to judge. It's hard for me to separate skillz from sex appeal and with the dearth of poor roles (at least in the movies I tend to see) it's not usually worth the trouble. I'd have to say Michelle Yeoh was pretty amazing all the way around in Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon.
posted by wobh at 7:04 AM on May 8, 2003

Greta Garbo. 'Movie Star' and 'of all time' seem to suit her.
posted by dabitch at 7:23 AM on May 8, 2003

Word on Cazale. The best actor nobody knows by name.

25 year old gossip -- Cimino knew Cazale was dying of bone cancer as they began Deer Hunter, and so filmed his scenes first. When the studio found out they wanted to drop him, and Meryl Streep threatened to bail if they did. She and Cazale were engaged to be married, but his time ran out...
posted by luser at 7:32 AM on May 8, 2003

For a thorough DeNiro vs Pacino analysis, you really have to turn to ESPN's Bill Simmons with this article.
posted by jonson at 7:48 AM on May 8, 2003

Eastwood below Pitt? What the frig?

posted by xmutex at 8:15 AM on May 8, 2003

The post is borked, but I'm curious if Burt Lancaster is on the list.
posted by Beholder at 9:19 AM on May 8, 2003

Sean Penn out of the list? Is that correct? Ohhh, it's a joke! IT'S A JOKE!!! Hohoho.
Isn't it? No? Uh. Oh my.

About De Niro, I think he, Pacino and Nicholson are exchangeable as the number ONE of the modern times (70's to 00's), so it's not a major problem. Still about this matter, what is Harrison Ford doing BEFORE Jack in the list? Ohhh, it's a joke! It's a joke! >;)
posted by nandop at 9:21 AM on May 8, 2003

I'll second John Cazale, a great talent who was cut down by cancer at the prime of his career. He was also suitably melancholic in The Conversation.

And, with deference to the Great Silent Trio, Buster Keaton kicks Chaplin's ass hands down. No one else could communicate with their body like that. (And, on DVD, you can really appreciate his ability in slo-mo.)

By the way, am I the only one having problems accessing the Channel Four list?
posted by ed at 10:44 AM on May 8, 2003

Robert DeNero has long been my favorite actor, Ronin and Goodfellas being two of my favorites of his.

I hurt somebody's feelings once...
posted by woil at 11:03 AM on May 8, 2003

Of course I can't even spell his name correctly. DeNiro. DeNiro. DeNiro.
posted by woil at 11:04 AM on May 8, 2003

I second Peter O'Toole. They never even gave the man a damned Oscar, and he's deserved like 10. They should have just given him a bag of Oscars after The Lion in Winter.
posted by Hildago at 11:45 AM on May 8, 2003

It's amazes me that anyone who can praise the likes of old time actors, then knock DeNiro for his crap performance in R & B. Most of these stars did so much crap its unbelievable. Easy to forget cowboy movies and "city hall" (that devil-theme movie with keanu).

DeNiro is still working off the many films he did when he was "just an actor" and Scorsesse was "just a director". He became a movie star!

posted by xtian at 12:23 PM on May 8, 2003

Nicholson doesn't act in films. He just plays himself. Its a great act, but it ain't nearly acting. ( just my $.02, YMMV)
posted by BentPenguin at 12:55 PM on May 8, 2003

There are actors (mainly supporting actors) and movie stars (mainly leads). Julia Roberts, for example, is a movie star, not an actor.

Al Pacino's eulogy in the otherwise unremarkable City Hall is excellent.

Speaking of The Lion in Winter, a younger Peter O'Toole was also great as a younger Henry II in Beckett.

And Ewan McGregor was great in Shallow Grave.
posted by kirkaracha at 12:59 PM on May 8, 2003

Nicholson owes me nine bucks for Anger Management.
posted by Optamystic at 1:08 PM on May 8, 2003

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