WALTER Matthau, Peter Finch, Gary Oldman, and John Malkovich.
Each one, undoubtedly, a fine actor but hardly of the calibre of Daniel Day-Lewis even though they are above him on the list of greatest ever movie actors compiled by the American Film Institute. The AFI puts Day-Lewis at 70 in its Official 100 Greatest Actors Of All Time list.
Perhaps the difference is between “greatest” — ie, most celebrated and notable — and “best”. Daniel Day-Lewis has to be regarded as one of the best actors of all time.
Most actors never retire, some even bequeathing their skulls to an acting company to be used as Yorick in Shakepeare’s Hamlet. Day-Lewis is different, famous for his method acting and for going to extreme lengths to prepare for each role.
He achieved something that no movie actor has ever done — winning three Academy Awards, the last in 2013 for his portrayal of Abraham Lincoln. His portrayal of Christy Brown in the 1989 movie, My Left Foot, was a remarkable tribute to the remarkable writer with cerebral palsy and gained him his first Oscar.
The searing intensity he brought to the role of Bill “the Butcher” Cutting, his heartbreaking portrayal of Gerry Conlon in In The Name Of The Father and his depiction of Daniel Plainview, a cold-blooded and greedy oilman, mark Day-Lewis out as one of the greatest actors of any generation.
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