"The Best Actor of His Generation"

In the wake of Phillip Seymour Hoffman’s passing, he has been lauded as being the best actor of his (my) generation. With his departure, who takes the title?
My vote is for Edward Norton, as Leo I see as Gen Y; if they are deemed the same generation, it’s a toss up.
For actresses, I’d go with Cate Blanchett.
Others that deserve mention?

What’s the permissible age range?

I believe most people are calling him the best character actor of his generation, which even there is a bit of a stretch. Actors, like musicians, get better after they die (even legitimately great ones).

How about someone in their 40’s? A Gen X-er.

I’ve seen plenty of “best actor” mentions without the attached “character” descriptor.

Javier Bardem was the answer before Hoffman’s passing so it stands to reason he would be now. FYI, he is 2 years younger than Hoffman.

Did you mean specifically American?

James Lipton.
There was an article from The Atlantic that bestowed the same title (“greatest actor”), but I can’t link to it at the moment.

I do not mean only American (as I offered up a non Yank for the actresses).
Bardem is certainly in the conversation, along with Christian Bale, Chiwitel Ojeifor (spelling?), Bradley Cooper…

Lipton also called the Martin Lawrence performance in Nothing to Lose a tour de force. He’s prone to hyperbole is all I’m saying.

Off the top of my head, Christian Bale: he’s terrific with accents, and he pretty much shapeshifts away from his action-hero-who-can-carry-a-franchise look to fire off an Oscar-winning supporting role as a skinny junkie in The Fighter or an Oscar-nominated leading role as a pudgy con artist in American Hustle, and he can play drunk or display intense emotion or whatever as the script requires.

The Atlantic.
There are others.

Great actor, just give it a decade and we will look back on it and make the decision then. Right now it’s not my first pick.

As it is a subjective topic, there is no right answer. For some people, Hoffman was the greatest, for others, Bardem. Who else?

Joaquin Phoenix and Leonard Dicaprio are to turn 40 this year. I’m thinking of the former in “Gladiator” and the latter in “What’s Eating Gilbert Grape?”. Just two films that I’ve seen; not necessarily their best.

Naomi Watts. I’ve only seen “Mulholland Drive,” but the transformation of her character (not only in the second half, but during the casting scene) is breathtaking.

Forest Whitaker. He’s apparently 52 this year so is not within OP criteria, but he’d get my vote for Bird if nothing else.

Ed Norton and Leonardo DiCaprio would both get my vote. They have great range in the characters they play (and master) and both make good movies great and bad movies watchable (with apologies to Death to Smoochie) :smiley:

All terrific suggestions, jerez. Whittaker I would put in a group that I would place Sean Penn on the upper end of and Robert Downey Jr on the young end.
I think that Sam Rockwell has done some good work, and Ben Foster should be a major star. Perhaps Jeremy Renner deserves mention?

I didn’t realize he was getting such lofty praise. He was good, no doubt, but that’s a bit much for me to sign on for.

Do we consider Daniel Day-Lewis in his generation? He’s 10 years older, so I guess he’s out.

If we’re sticking with people in their 40s I think I have to go with Bale, with Leo taking the spot if he’s ruled eligible.

Names that deserve a mention, IMHO, if we’re basing it on acting skill and not just the number of star turns (and depending on where you put the age cutoff):

Paul Giamatti
Russell Crowe
Benicio Del Toro
Jeffrey Wright
Ralph Fiennes
Toby Jones
Hope Davis

Johnny Depp would be up there, if for no other reason than his ability to totally disappear into a role.

Nobody ever seems to agree what a generation of actors is- I don’t think they mean a generation in “people” terms; they mean people who are about the same age or became famous around the same time. And how do you compare someone like Hoffman, who could bring to life even a fairly small and one-dimensional role, to a guy like DiCaprio who’s practically always a leading man?

I’ll just say I’ve never heard anyone say “you know, Philip Seymour Hoffman wasn’t very good in that movie,” and I’m glad I got to see him in Death of a Salesman.