Top 10 Decade Defining Actors: 2010s

Written by Sean Harris The film industry is enjoying a renaissance right now, and these are the most successful renaissance men! Join WatchMojo.com as we count down our picks for the top 10 Decade Defining Actors of the first half of the 2010s! For our series on the Top 10 Decade Defining Male Actors Per Period, we’ve made our choices based on a combination of their commercial success, their box-office scores, their productivity, their awards and how they helped set the tone and raise the standard in Hollywood for the era. Special thanks to our users Grungeman23 and Ceione Pafford for submitting the idea through our suggestions tool at WatchMojo.comSuggest
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Written by Sean Harris

Top 10 Decade Defining Actors of the 2010s


The film industry is enjoying a renaissance right now, and these are the most successful renaissance men! Welcome to WatchMojo.com and today we’re counting down our picks for the top 10 Decade Defining Actors of the first half of the 2010s!

For our series on the Top 10 Decade Defining Male Actors Per Period, we’ve made our choices based on a combination of their commercial success, their box-office scores, their productivity, their awards and how they helped set the tone and raise the standard in Hollywood for the era.

#10: Tom Hardy
1977 -

To start, he’s sharp and he’s so now! Tom Hardy has really established himself within the past few years, after angrily announcing himself onto the scene in the title role of “Bronson”. A major part as Eames in “Inception” followed in 2010, and Hardy’s been living in a cinematic dream since then. He can play the good guy, the bad guy, and everywhere in between. Set to take over from Mel Gibson in the “Mad Max” remake, Hardy’s headed for big, big things!

#9: Bryan Cranston
1956 -

After relative success in “Malcolm in the Middle” and gaining global recognition in “Breaking Bad”, Bryan Cranston has confirmed himself as one of the top actors working today. Since wowing us as Walter White, he landed the lead role in 2014’s “Godzilla”, and has been tapped for many more major parts in the future. Before international superstardom had truly set in, Cranston also had a part to play in 2012’s “Argo” as well as 2011’s “Drive”.

#8: Channing Tatum
1980 -

He can play the romantic lead, the action-hero lead, and the comedian. Mr. Tatum has rapidly become one of Tinsel Town’s top draws, and one of their finest specimens. With meticulously maintained good looks he had us bawling in “Dear John”, biting our nails in “White House Down”, and breaking out in fits of laughter during “21 Jump Street”. In college he was an athlete but now, Channing’s a champion actor as well!

#7: Jonah Hill
1983 -

Tatum’s partner in crime, Jonah Hill has established himself as one of the funniest faces in all of film. Leading roles in “The Watch” and “This is the End” mean that Hill’s hilariously sarcastic brand of comedy has become a silver-screened standard. But while many try to follow, Jonah just does it best! What’s more impressive is that Hill still has more to give! Roles in “Moneyball” and “The Wolf of Wall Street” are proof that he’ll pioneer for years to come!

#6: Christoph Waltz
1956 -

He may be best known as the supporting actor, but there is nothing second-rate about this guy’s performances. When Christoph Waltz and Quentin Tarantino get together, it seems the Academy Award is as good as won! In 2009, Waltz picked up the Oscar for his portrayal of Hans Landa in “Inglourious Basterds”, and in 2012 he repeated the feat by playing Dr. King Schultz in “Django Unchained”. He has had other successes as well, but we’re all waiting for the next time he receives a phone call from Quentin!

#5: Ryan Gosling
1980 -

A former Mickey Mouse Clubber, Gosling has grown into one of the twenty-first century’s top stars! 2011 was the Canadian’s ‘big year’. In 12 months he managed to rack up 3 major movies, and 3 diverse roles. Gosling’s the lovable ladies man in “Crazy, Stupid Love”, he’s all violence and fast cars in “Drive”, and he’s portraying the political in “The Ides of March”. By 2012, he had been compared to George Clooney and Marlon Brando… And that says everything about his talent!

#4: Joseph Gordon-Levitt
1981 -

Gordon-Levitt dropped out of college to pursue a career in acting, and we’re sure glad he did! The former child star is now an all-out superstar! A role as Arthur in “Inception” was a career defining step-up the ladder, and a part alongside Christian Bale’s Batman in “The Dark Knight Rises” propelled the Californian a few rungs further. Gordon-Levitt starred in “Looper” in 2012, and time-travelled his way to the highest heights of fame!

#3: Michael Fassbender
1977 -

Stepping onto the podium and wearing the bronze medal particularly handsomely, Michael Fassbender has proven a fairly fast learner when it comes to international acting success. Pre-2010 roles in “300” and “Inglourious Basterds” provided him with a springboard, and post-2010 parts in “X-Men: First Class”, “Prometheus” and “12 Years a Slave” have showcased him in all his trickery. At his age, Fassbender isn’t quite a fledgling actor, but he has a fantastic future ahead of him!

#2: Bradley Cooper
1975 -

Collecting the silver award, Bradley Cooper is another for whom there seems to exist few genre limitations. “He’s Just Not That Into You” and “The Hangover” might have had him typecast as the fetching funny man. However, although he has been ‘Hungover’ two more times since, Cooper can do more than comedy! “Limitless” was liked, but “Silver Linings Playbook” and “American Hustle”, they were loved! Cooper has collected award nominations aplenty, and it’s only a matter of time before he gets his hands on the trophies themselves!

Before we unveil our pick for Decade Defining Actor of the first half of the 2010s, here are a few honorable mentions:
- Chris Hemsworth
1983 -
- James Franco
1978 -
- Idris Elba
1972 -
- Tom Hiddleston
1981 -
- Jon Hamm
1971 -

#1: Matthew McConaughey
1969 -

If this list has proven anything, it’s this; in order to achieve success, the modern day actor must be a versatile one! Apparently, this guy has versatility to spare! Until recently, he had largely been rom-com-ing his way to recognition, but with a role in “The Wolf of Wall Street” and an Oscar winning performance in “Dallas Buyers Club”, many have dubbed the 2010s as a ‘McConaissance’. Whatever you call it, everyone’s enjoying it, and long may it continue!

Do you agree with our list? Which actor from the first half of the 2010s do you think is the most iconic? For more classic Top 10s published daily, be sure to subscribe to WatchMojo.com.
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