Hollywood actors

Best Hollywood actors of 2019: Joaquin Phoenix, Leonardo DiCaprio, Robert De Niro and more

2019 has seen some great Hollywood movies and with the year coming to an end, now is the time for us to assess everything we’ve seen in theaters. Performances like Joaquin Phoenix (Joker) and Robert De Niro (The Irishman) were clear favorites even before the movies were released and they lived up to all the hype. Adam Driver (Marriage Story) and Christian Bale (Ford v Ferrari) also managed to shine with their understated but powerful performances.

Here are the best performances by male actors in 2019:

(The list is in chronological order of film releases)

Leonardo DiCaprio – Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

Leonardo DiCaprio plays Rick Dalton in Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.

Leonardo DiCaprio plays Rick Dalton in this Quentin Tarantino film. Rick is a failing actor who is wonderfully supported by his stunt double and friend Cliff, played by Brad Pitt. DiCaprio plays his character as an insecure actor who constantly needs validation, and it’s this vulnerability that makes him instantly likable. The film’s climax has DiCaprio in store for surprises, which has Tarantino written all over it.

Joaquin Phoenix – Joker

joker joaquin phoenix Joaquin Phoenix as Arthur Fleck in Todd Philips’ Joker.

One of Joaquin Phoenix’s finest performances, the film has the actor playing Batman’s nemesis. Phoenix transforms from Arthur Fleck to Joker in a rather menacing way in the origin story. From the bones protruding from his body to the dance he performs on the steps, Phoenix convinces audiences that Arthur is a troubled man. The performance could earn him an Oscar this year.

Robert De Niro – The Irishman

Irish Robert De Niro in The Irishman by Martin Scorsese.

The mob drama Martin Scorsese had Robert De Niro playing the role of Frank Sheeran. De Niro’s acting skills need no superlatives as we have seen him deliver many masterful performances before and here too he does the same. The actor transitions from trucker to mob boss so effectively you’re in awe. His two worlds – work and family – often collide and it’s in these moments that De Niro pulls you into his world.

Adam Driver – Marriage Story

adam driver marriage story Adam Driver in Noah Baumbach’s Marriage Story.

Adam Driver plays Charlie in Noah Baumbach’s acclaimed Marriage Story. Charlie struggles to retain custody of his son as he loses his wife Nicole in a divorce. Adam plays Charlie as a loving father and successful director, but the scenes where his vulnerability comes through are heartbreaking. The scenes where he goes after Nicole or the one where he puts on a brave face after accidentally cutting himself have Adam at his best.

Christian Bale – Ford v Ferrari

Christian Bale Christian Bale in James Mangold’s Ford v Ferrari.

This James Mangold director has Christian Bale playing legendary race car driver Ken Miles. Bale is known for immersing himself in his characters, and while the role isn’t as demanding as Vice or American Psycho, the actor delivered a striking performance.

Matthew Rhys and Tom Hanks – A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

toh hanks matthew rhys Matthew Rhys and Tom Hanks in A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood.

Here, Matthew Rhys plays a jaded journalist who has been assigned to write an article about Mr. Rogers, played by Tom Hanks. While Rhys plays the protagonist here, it’s Hanks’ character that acts as the catalyst in his journey. Rhys’ performance as a traumatized son and scared father has you praying for his mental peace as he digs deeper into his childhood memories.

Hanks as Mr. Rogers seems too good to be true, and much like Rhys, your cynical side takes over when you watch him at first. However, as the film progresses, Hanks’ humility and kindness take over, and you’re left with a warm feeling.

Jonathan Pryce – The Two Popes

jonathan price Jonathan Pryce plays Pope Francis in The Two Popes.

Even though he shares the screen with Anthony Hopkins in The Two Popes, Jonathan Pryce delivers an Oscar-worthy performance. The film is based on Anthony McCarten’s 2017 play The Pope, which chronicles the events of the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI and the subsequent appointment of Pope Francis.

Adam Sandler – Uncut Gems

Adam Sandler Adam Sandler in Safdie Brothers’ Uncut Gems.

After appearing in many hard-to-distinguish movies, Adam Sandler turned in an oddly good performance in Uncut Gems. In the Safdie Brothers film, Sandler plays a gambler who places one risky bet after another. He’s the antagonist of his story arc, and it’s that duality that makes you root for him.