6. Lubna Azabal
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
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.