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Viggo Mortensen

Highlights: The Lord of the Rings trilogy, A History of Violence, Eastern Promises, The Road

Breaking into the mainstream with his role as Aragon in The Lord of the Rings trilogy, smouldering character actor Viggo Mortensen carved out a decade filled with a broad range of edgy, thought provoking work, his one-two punch of A History of Violence and Eastern Promises (both with director David Cronenberg) prime examples.   




Brad Pitt

Highlights: Snatch, Babel, Burn After Reading, Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Inglourious Basterds

Successfully shaking off his beefcake tag with a series of strong, quirky, and always entertaining performances, Brad Pitt claimed the respect he deserved as a character actor to go along with his standing as one of the world’s biggest movie stars.




Sean Penn

Highlights: I Am Sam, Mystic River, 21 Grams, The Assassination of Richard Nixon, Milk

Already known as a powerhouse actor thanks to his stellar work in the ‘80s and ‘90s, Sean Penn bucked the trend by having a career best decade that saw him win two overdue Oscar’s for his work in crime drama Mystic River and riveting biopic Milk.  




Russell Crowe

Highlights: Gladiator, A Beautiful Mind, Master & Commander: The Far Side of the Wolrd, Cinderella Man, American Gangster

Building upon his late 1990’s work in L.A. Confidential and The Insider, Australasian method man Russell Crowe hit pay dirt and won the Oscar in his infamous portrayal as Maximus Decimus Meridius in Gladiator (his first of 4 collaboration with Ridley Scott), following with a series of acclaimed performances throughout the decade.




Nicole Kidman

Highlights: Moulin Rouge!, The Others, The Hours, Cold Mountain, Dogville

Stepping out of the shadows of her larger than life (yet shorter in stature) ex-hubby Tim Cruise, statuesque Aussie Nicole Kidman dazzled in the musical Moulin Rouge! before taking home a swag of awards for her heartbreaking portrayal of Virginia Wolfe in The Hours. A series of bravura of performances saw her tagged as box office poison, yet those who looked past the box office receipts saw an actress without fear and talent to burn.




Philip Seymour Hoffman

Highlights: Almost Famous, Capote, The Savages, Charlie Wilson’s War, Doubt

Having already made his mark as a character actor in a series of vast supporting roles (appearing in everything from Twister to Magnolia), Philip Seymour Hoffman successfully made the jump to leading man status with his lauded performance as Truman Capote in the aptly titled Capote. Hoffman would follow with equally strong supporting and lead work which cemented his range and humility as an actor.




Meryl Streep

Highlights: Adaptation, The Hours, The Devil Wears Prada, Doubt, Julie & Julia

Meryl Streep is quite the anomaly: a 60+ year old award winning actress with box office clout, Streep not only broke the rules, but she also leaved many of her peers (Pacino, De Niro, Keaton), and wannabe younger challenges to her throne as the greatest ever lying in the dust, by continuing to pump out one exceptional performance after another.



Cate Blanchett

Highlights: The Aviator, Little Fish, I’m Not There, Elizabeth: The Golden Age, Curious Case of Benjamin Button

The third Australian on the list, Cate Blanchett’s prowess as a chameleon saw her snag a bunch of awards as Katherine Hepburn (The Aviator), amaze us all with her gender bending portrayal of Bob Dylan (I’m Not There), and fuse sex appeal, grace, and the fragility of age in her underrated turn in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.  




Johnny Depp

Highlights: Chocolat, Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl, Finding Neverland, Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, Public Enemies

Who would have thought that Johnny Depp would become a box office star, in an action adventure franchise never the less? Yet that is exactly what he became as Captain Jack Sparrow in Pirates of the Caribbean, a highlight during a decade which saw the quirky method actor stake his rightful claim as one of, if not the, most gifted actor of his generation.  




Kate Winslet

Highlights: The Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Romance and Cigarettes, Little Children, The Reader, Revolutionary Road

If there was ever an actress (or indeed, actor) who could defrock the mighty Meryl Streep from her standing as the Queen of cinema, Kate Winslet would be the number one candidate for such a feat.

From her darkly seductive turn in 2000’s Quills, through to her depressingly powerful performance in 2008’s Revolutionary Road, Winslet has built an impressive resume of stellar performances that saw her break hearts (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind), made grown men blush (Romance & Cigarettes), and twist traditional moral leanings into a pretzel (The Reader, for which she won her first and this far only Oscar).

Throughout it all, Winslet rarely hit a false not, acting with an honesty, integrity, and courage that won the hearts and admiration of her audience as well as her peers.  





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