10. Joe Pesci, Goodfellas: One of the more memorable performances to win Best Supporting Actor, Joe Pesci is simply outstanding as the hot-headed yet psychopathic and unpredictable mob member Tommy DeVito. Despite Pesci's higher pitched voice making him seem less intimidating, Pesci definitely doesn't let that fool you when you watch his portrayal.
9. Daniel Day-Lewis, My Left Foot: Now the film itself is quite meh, but the best thing about it was its actors, especially DDL. This is the film that won DDL his first Oscar out of his three and after watching this film, I would say deservingly so. As the film progressed, I found myself becoming captivated by his performance and the true dedication he brings to his artistry as he plays a man with cerebral palsy. As I said, the film is meh, but it is worth a watch just for DDL's performance.
8. Javier Bardem, No Country For Old Men: Javier Bardem not only is terrifying in the role of Anton Chigurh because of his horrific haircut, but because of his stillness. He never goes over-the-top and he never gives an evil cackle or anything like that. All Bardem does is give a piercing look and when you watch his performance, you just shiver. I know chills were sent down my spine when I saw it and it is no surprise that Bardem's performance is starting to become iconic.
7. Tom Hanks, Forrest Gump: Now onto an already iconic performance, Tom Hanks won his 2nd Oscar in a row for his brilliant portrayal of a mentally challenged man in the classic that is Forrest Gump. Hanks is lovable and endearing, and as you are watching the film, he allows you to be taken on his character's unique journey. Luckily, we, the audience want to be taken on that journey.
6. Edward Norton, American History X: In a film that is a VERY tough watch, Edward Norton gives one of the most dynamic performances in recent memory as a man who transitions from a sadistic neo-Nazi skinhead to a man who becomes broken after being released from prison where he learns the error of his ways and once released, struggles to prevent his brother from going down the same path. After the film was over, I couldn't come out with any words at all, but it shows how powerful this film and Norton's performance is.
5. Ralph Fiennes, Schindler's List: The film Schindler's List is very powerful and one reason is because of Ralph Fiennes' portrayal of the real-life demonic being known as Amon Goeth. While Fiennes may not be as physically intimidating as Anton Chigurh or Jason Voorhees, he still leaves a large presence when on screen and gives a character that is very empty of emotions plenty of depth.
4. Kevin Spacey, American Beauty: In American Beauty, Kevin Spacey may not play the most likable human being on the planet, but he pulls his character off so well, that we do find ourselves on his side. However, Spacey definitely isn't afraid to showcase his character's rather unappealing qualities as well. I always enjoy watching Kevin Spacey on screen, whether he plays the good or bad guy, but here I get to enjoy watching him play someone in between.
3. Johnny Depp, Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl: Probably the most comedic performance on this list, and one of the more entertaining, Johnny Depp's portrayal of the now famous drunken pirate Captain Jack Sparrow has not only showcased his range as an actor, but made him the household name that he is today. This is actually the performance that made me such a big fan of his and is one that I have watched again and again. I never grow tired of watching this portrayal.
2. Anthony Hopkins, Silence of the Lambs: To describe how terrific Hopkins is, I'll say this: Anthony Hopkins won the Oscar for Best Lead Actor even though he has about 25 total minutes of screen time and when he is on screen, he has a large and commanding presence. Who doesn't remember the film's famous "flava beans and Chianti" scene? I know Hopkins not only pulled off a brilliant performance as the charismatic anti-hero known as Hannibal Lecter, but helped make it as famous as it is today.
1. Heath Ledger, The Dark Knight: I remember when I first heard that Heath Ledger was going to play The Joker and I, like many comic book fans, had my doubts. But then, I saw the film and in the film's 2 and a half hour screen time, not once did I feel like I was watching an actor playing a part when I watched Heath Ledger's portrayal of The Joker. All I saw was The Joker. It was like a psycho just happened to walk on to the set, but that is just how phenomenal Heath Ledger was. He may have departed too soon, but Ledger went out with a bang with this performance.
Here are a few honorable mentions that didn't make it onto my list:
Christian Bale, The Fighter
George Clooney, Up in the Air
Leonardo DiCaprio, The Wolf of Wall Street
Jesse Eisenberg, The Social Network
Jamie Foxx, Ray
Philip Seymour Hoffman, Capote/The Master
Ian McKellen, Gods and Monsters
Gary Sinise, Forrest Gump
Christopher Walken, Catch Me If You Can
Christoph Waltz, Inglourious Basterds/Django Unchained
Denzel Washington, Training Day
Robin Williams, Good Will Hunting
So, that was my list of the Top 10 Male Oscar Performances and my list of honorable mentions. Thanks for reading and as always, please feel free to write in the comments section.