IMDb Polls

Poll: Most Influential Decade Defining Actor

Each decade, we witness a handful of supremely talented thespians whose abilities transcend the art of acting. They don't merely act out their characters on screen but actually become them. Through considerable dedication, research and an inherent gift, these actors deliver viscerally captivating performances and present us with cinematic gold.

In your opinion, which of these actors have had the most profound influence over the course of films?

After voting, you may discuss the poll here.

Make Your Choice

  1. Vote!

    Sidney Poitier

    Sidney Poitier ruled the 60s. He became the first black man to receive the Academy Award for Best Actor in 1963. But more than that, he displayed a charisma and elegance on screen that cemented him as a cinematic legend.

    Decade defined: 1960s

  2. Vote!

    James Stewart

    During the 1940s, when he also served as a military officer, Stewart was the quintessence of aspiring American man. His down-to-earth persona and supreme range were just a few of his many endearing qualities.

    Decade defined: 1940s, 1950s

  3. Vote!

    Katharine Hepburn

    With an unprecedented 4 Academy Awards for Best Actress, Katherine Hepburn is quite possibly the most accomplished actress in cinema history and the indisputable quintessence of a leading lady on the screen. Voted as the greatest female star of Classic Hollywood Cinema by AFI, Hepburn's "modern woman" status and independent character is a definition that speaks for itself.

    Decade defined: 1940s

  4. Vote!

    Marlon Brando

    Marlon Brando brought an unprecedented, gripping realism to the art of acting. Often cited as being the most important influence on acting ever, his magnetism, method acting and masculinity cement him as the quintessential masculine male.

    Decade defined: 1950s

  5. Vote!

    Humphrey Bogart

    Humphrey Bogart is a cultural icon and was a leading man in both dramatic and romantic films with immense impact. Bogart firmly established the trade-mark persona of that kind of a hard-boiled cynic that ultimately reveals his noble side. AFI ranked him as the single greatest male star of Classic American cinema.

    Decade defined: 1940s

  6. Vote!

    Charles Chaplin

    Charlie Chaplin and his persona as "The Tramp" are indisputably one of, if not, the most substantial figures in cinema history. As a perfectionist who created virtually every detail of his films, he will be forever credited for blessing us with the art of cinema.

    Decade defined: 1920s, 1930s

  7. Vote!

    Daniel Day-Lewis

    While his performances on the screen are infrequent, Daniel Day-Lewis often gives the most memorable ones of that year when he finally appears. A true 'cinematic chameleon', DDL is virtually unrecognizable in whatever role he immerses himself into. With 3 Academy Awards for Best Actor (the only man in history to accomplish this) under his belt, this man has defined what it means to truly become your role.

    Decade defined: 1990s, 2000s

  8. Vote!

    Leonardo DiCaprio

    Leonardo DiCaprio is one of the most talented actors working today. His ability to seamlessly transform himself between roles is matched by few competitors, whether its as a crooked, drug-loving banker or a violent mercenary amidst Sierra Leone. This man brings his A-game to every role and is one of the greatest talents to ever grace us with his presence on the big screen.

    Decade defined: 2000s

  9. Vote!

    Robert De Niro

    Robert De Niro & Martin Scorsese. Martin Scorsese & Robert De Niro. The two go together like butter and toast, each helping the other to yield some of the finest cinema in history, certainly for one another. This man was an absolute treat to watch in his younger years. "You talkin' to me?"

    Decade defined: 1970s

  10. Vote!

    Jack Nicholson

    As one of the more energetic actors on this list, Jack Nicholson has been known to 'ramp it up' a bit for his roles. With 3 Best Actor Academy Awards to boot and countless great performances, particularly in the 1970s, he has forever changed how those approach the art of acting.

    Decade defined: 1970s

  11. Vote!

    Al Pacino

    The films Al Pacino has starred in have been among the best Hollywood has ever seen, with a career spanning nearly 50 years. In the 1970s, to say he did well would be a tragic understatement. The 70s was Pacino's decade starring in films like The Godfather (I and II), Serpico and Dog Day Afternoon.

    Decade defined: 1970s

  12. Vote!

    Cary Grant

    Cary Grant is a legend on the big screen and was one of Hollywood's definitive leading man. His debonair demeanor, transatlantic accent and light-hearted approach was a force in the 1940s particularly.

    Decade defined: 1940s

  13. Vote!

    Clint Eastwood

    Clint Eastwood is the Spaghetti Western. Rising to international fame with his role as The Man With No Name in Sergio Leone's Dollar Trilogy, he too, like Wayne, became synonymous with the concept of masculinity.

    Decade defined: 1960s

  14. Vote!

    Harrison Ford

    This man, along with Steven Spielberg, established the blockbuster with the Indiana Jones franchise. He also gained worldwide stardom for his role as Han Solo in original The Star Wars trilogy. His iconic status, often in roles as a masculine and fierce man, has been one to aspire to for many.

    Decade defined: 1980s

  15. Vote!

    Robert Redford

    As a frequent collaborator with fellow legendary cohort Paul Newman, Redford starred in many memorable films like Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid and The Sting. He set the precedent for the suave, tough guy persona that we have become so accustomed to seeing.

    Decade defined: 1970s

  16. Vote!

    John Wayne

    John Wayne, nicknamed Duke, was an American actor, director, and producer. An Academy Award-winner for True Grit (1969), Wayne was among the top box office draws for nearly three decades. He served as the quintessence of masculinity and firmly set the standard for protagonists in Westerns.

    Decade defined: 1950s, 1960s

  17. Vote!

    Johnny Depp

    A frequent collaborator with director Tim Burton, Depp epitomized the 'eccentric' role by starring as the titular character in films like Sweeney Todd and Edward Scissorhands. Perhaps best known for his role as Jack Sparrow in the Pirates of The Carribean franchise, this ultra talented actor, producer and director has shown a versatility and charisma that has been matched by few in his era.

    Decade defined: 1990s

  18. Vote!

    Tom Cruise

    While Cruise has arguably been a A-lister for roughly 3 decades, the 1980s was in full 'cruise control'. His versatility and charisma have made him the quintessence of leading man despite some of his features (including a height extremely below average) that defy the norm.

    Decade defined: 1980s

  19. Vote!

    Meryl Streep

    Often cited in the media as the "best actress of her generation", — a designation she objects to — Streep is particularly known for her versatility in her roles, transformation into the characters she plays, and her accent adaptation. Oh, and she's won 3 Academy Awards for her acting chops, in case anyone was counting.

    Decade defined: 1970s, 1980s

  20. Vote!

    Sean Penn

    As an American Actor, filmmaker, and political activist, Penn has also won two Academy Awards, for his roles in the mystery drama Mystic River (2003) and the biopic Milk (2008). You may not like him, but you can't deny the profound influence of this powerhouse performer.

    Decade defined: 1990s, 2000s

  21. Vote!

    Denzel Washington

    Washington has received much critical acclaim for his film work since the 1980s, including his portrayals of real-life figures that range from a South African anti-apartheid activist to a Muslim minister and human rights activist - the man's got talent and influence.

    Decade defined: 1990s

  22. Vote!

    Burt Reynolds

    As an enduring, strong-featured, and genial star of US cinema, Burt Reynolds started off in TV westerns in the 1960s and then carved his name into 1970/1980s popular culture as a male sex symbol in real life and on-screen as both a rugged action figure and then as a wisecracking, Southern-type "good olé' boy."

    Decade defined: 1970s

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