Two Guys, a Girl and a TV Set

Three college friends out in the world, filling the void with television…and loving it.

Moltisanti’s Best Actors of the Decade

Posted by Christopher Moltisanti on December 28, 2009

1) James Gandolfini – The Sopranos

There’s not really much competition for the top spot here. Gandolfini captures the contradictions of Tony Soprano perfectly. From his strongest moments as a mob boss to his weakness as he wears down under the constant pressures of his job and his family as well as his deep-seated insecurity, Gandolfini is perfect. Unfortunately for him and his acting career, he’ll never be seen as anyone other than Tony Soprano. Still, there are worse ways to go down in TV history.

2) Ian McShane – Deadwood

Commanding. That’s the one word that best describes McShane’s performance as saloon owner and town shot-caller, Al Swearengen. Swearengen is a study in leadership, albeit corrupt leadership. He knows when to hold a hard line and when to compromise, and McShane is equally enthralling in Swearengen’s vicious moments and his more vulnerable ones. Overall, it’s as close to a flawless performance as you’ll find.

3) Jon Hamm – Mad Men

Hamm dominates scenes as Don Draper. Sure, he’s cool, but he also displays all of Draper’s struggles (both at work and at home), including his ongoing identity crisis, with ease. And though it’s a well-known performance, it’s by and large an understated one. Sure, there are the flashy moments (“The Wheel” monologue comes to mind) where he shines, but he does more with looks and expressions than almost any other actor on this list.

4) Will Arnett – Arrested Development

Comedic actors often get slighted when it comes to rankings. It’s odd considering their work is often just as challenging as dramatic actors. So, the best comedy of the decade, hell, maybe of all time, needed a shout out somewhere before the best shows list. Will Arnett is uproariously funny as wanna-be magician Gob Bluth. It certainly says something that he stands out among a cast of hilarious actors.

5) Kiefer Sutherland – 24

Like CJ, I was scared to leave Jack Bauer off this list, even if the actor playing him may not always be sober enough to come after me. As I noted in the best characters list, Sutherland makes sure Jack Bauer is more than a one-dimensional action star. He’s a noble hero grappling with immense personal anguish as he faces down impossible moral quandaries. Sutherland fits the role perfectly, and, like Gandolfini with Tony Soprano, will go down in history wedded to this role.

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One Response to “Moltisanti’s Best Actors of the Decade”

  1. Mr. Feeny said

    Ian McShane was great in the short-lived “Kings” on NBC this spring, too. And Arnett’s been a fun guest star on “30 Rock.” Just to add to their decade of work.

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