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10 Living Actors With The Most Consistently Good Careers

15 March 2017 | Features, People Lists | by Andreas Babiolakis

6. Lubna Azabal

Incendies (2010)

One of the lesser known names here is Belgian great Lubna Azabal. Like Daniel Day-Lewis, her filmography is much smaller than some of the other names featured here. The scope of these works is what is most important, and it is a shame that Azabal has not been more prominently featured.

After the gargantuan work in Incendies and Coriolanus, it would have made sense to see her featured more. What we did get is the startling miniseries The Honorable Woman (also starring the great Maggie Gyllenhaal), and that is a great enough reward. Still, her last film to go highly noticed was 2013’s Rock the Casbah, and that is saddening. Do not let her bold work go unnoticed, because her name deserves to be brought up more.

Recommendations: Incendies, Paradise Now, Coriolanus, The Honorable Woman (miniseries), Exils


7. Mahershala Ali


Here is another name that is becoming much more familiar, and for damn good reason. If you haven’t watched Mahershala Ali on Marvel’s Luke Cage, then you will likely know him from Moonlight or Hidden Figures. 2016 was definitely his year, and that is great news, considering that he will likely pop up even more-so now. However, while his past work isn’t that great in numbers, he still has some previous work that is worth checking out.

Even his small work in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button is attached to something great. He has some franchise work with Predators and The Hunger Games, but he is always wonderful in any role (no matter how big or small they may be). We can forgive the inclusion of Free State of Jones for the other great films, can’t we? Anyways, it’s onwards and upwards for this humble actor, and that’s the best part.

Recommendations: Moonlight, Hidden Figures, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, The Place Beyond the Pines, Go For Sisters


8. Michelle Williams

This actress has the most uneven catalog on this list, but Michelle Williams shines because of her constant attachment to ground breaking works. For each A Hole in One and Perfume (which are cult favourites depending on who you ask), you have a Blue Valentine and Wendy and Lucy.

As it is, the majority of the “rotten” ratings on Rotten Tomatoes are films that have their share of fans. Whatever film Michelle Williams is a part of, it’s almost always guaranteed to be at least interesting. When her films are great, though, they are undeniably moving (greatly in part to her superstar acting capabilities). Williams may not have the most consistent filmography featured here, but each and every future project is pretty much a sure-win waiting to happen.

Recommendations: My Week With Marilyn, Manchester By the Sea, Blue Valentine, Brokeback Mountain, Synechdoche, New York


9. Tony Leung

Infernal Affairs movie

The only actor to be featured without a single rotten review is saved for last (the order is alphabetically categorized, but it’s still nice to end this way).

Tony Leung Chiu Wai is easily one of Hong Kong’s all time greatest actors, and he is most likely one of the more recognizable performers from there. He is a favourite of Wong Kar-wai and is featured in Hong Kong classics like Chungking Express, In the Mood for Love and Happy Together. Another memorable film Leung is attached to is Infernal Affairs, which was famously remade in America as Martin Scorsese’s The Departed.

Almost anything Tony Leung touches is a Hong Kong masterpiece, and his vast acting talents are part of the reason why. He is courageous with any role he takes, and he dives so deeply into character at all times. If you are not familiar with Tony Leung’s work, get on that right now, because you will not make a mistake if you even selected a film to watch of his at random.

Recommendations: Infernal Affairs, In the Mood for Love, Chungking Express, Hero, Bullet in the Head


10. Ralph Fiennes

Now this has to be one of the strongest careers in recent years (in terms of an actor who always gets featured heavily each year, of course). Ralph Fiennes has been attached to greatness since the start, with Schindler’s List being one of his first films (what a way to start, right?). Quiz Show came out a year later, and The English Patient was shortly afterwards. After that kind of a hot streak, The Avengers (the 98 disaster, not the Marvel phenomenon) will have nothing on a career.

Fiennes was famously cast as Lord Voldemort in the Harry Potter films, and he dabbled in solid films on the side (he worked on making Coriolanus when the second Deathly Hallows was being released for instance). When he reached his hilarious performance in The Grand Budapest Hotel, this was by no means a resurgence at that point, but instead a reminder of the brilliance this man is usually attached to. Thank you for being so damn reliable, Ralph Fiennes.

Recommendations: Schindler’s List, The Grand Budapest Hotel, The Constant Gardener, Quiz Show, In Bruges

Author Bio: Andreas Babiolakis has a Bachelor’s degree in Cinema Studies, and is currently undergoing his Master’s in Film Preservation. He is stationed in Toronto, where he devotes every year to saving money to celebrate his favourite holiday: TIFF. Catch him @andreasbabs.



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  • Yolanda Anne Brown

    Cate Blanchett’s performance in “Notes On A Scandal?” Even Ralph Fiennes performance in “Strange Days” was GREAT!

  • Brandon Thompson

    Gotta give it to the female actors here because as we ask know not as many roles are written for women.

  • AmazingAmy

    Men you forgot Tilda Swinton, Judi Dench, Jessica Chastain, Rooney Mara, Joaquin Phoenix, Viggo Mortensen, Philip Seymour Hoffman (RIP TT)

    But i love how this list embrace foreign actors like Tony Leung…nice list^^

  • colonelkurtz

    “Thank you for being so damn reliable, Ralph Fiennes.” Good last line. Ralph is great.

    • AmazingAmy

      i thought you dies in vietnam , kurtz o_o
      BTW I Freaking Love Apocalypse, Now

      • colonelkurtz

        The horror drove me out of retirement. (It’s one of my top favorite films without doubt!)

        • AmazingAmy

          You became horror as well…….
          your monologue is most sinister and eerie monologue ever ( beside hanibal lecter and norman bates)

  • sailor monsoon

    John cazale.
    He wins by default

    • vasilis4

      Well i m with you, but thats a post about living actors.

      • sailor monsoon

        I didn’t read header
        That’s my bad

  • vasilis4

    How about Amy Adams? 5 oscar nominations and she is still 40 years old.

    • Abhishek

      Definitely should have been here though I think her nomination for Fighter and American Hustle was waste because David O makes purely oscar bait films which are just avg film with avg acting only exception being Bale in Fighter!

  • Nick Botton

    Oh shit I thought Carey Mulligan and Michelle Williams were the same person

    • AmazingAmy

      they can play twin..
      equally beautiful and talented…and great at choosing film ^^

  • Tim O’Hare

    Adam Driver

  • johnjohnphenom

    I was definitely expecting DiCaprio here

    • AmazingAmy

      he has some misfire like J.Edgar, Body of Lies, Blood Diamond, Man of Iron Mask

      • johnjohnphenom

        All of those movies besides j edgar were great.

        • Mortimer


  • Present Day John Cusack…

  • Alan Michael Scott

    Robert De Niro

  • Payam Azad

    Obviously Joaquin Phoenix.

  • Special_One

    As much as I love Ralph Fiennes, being part of the Harry Potter-franchise pretty much excludes him from this list. Also, most of these haven’t really starred in that many bad movies, but A LOT of average ones. It’s far between the highlights of almost everyone on the list.

  • Ricardo Correia

    Ali being is the list is very stupid, The Curious Case and Hidden Figures are both terrible