Editor’s list: Who is your favorite actor and their best movie?

August Lawrence, Arts & Entertainment Editor

The question “Who is your favorite actor?” is a common one in Southern California. Although actors don’t necessarily play the most integral role in making or breaking a movie, there is no doubt that an elevating performance can help lead a film from an obscure indie movie to mainstream success. But with so many actors out there nowadays, it can be daunting to pick a personal favorite. That’s why The Channels staff offered their personal favorite actors and suggestions of which films to best view them in for this week.


August Lawrence, Arts & Entertainment Editor

Toshiro Mifune – ‘Red Beard’ (1965)

Very few actors have the talent, variety or dominating screen presence that carries them through a 50-plus-year career with 50-plus rolls. Whether he’s a rogue samurai with a murderous rage, or a calm, cool and calculated businessman plotting a corporate coup, Toshiro Mifune is widely considered one of the greatest actors of all time. The actor himself felt his portrayal of Dr. Kyojô Niide from “Red Beard” was his greatest performance. Through the smallest gestures and expressions, Mifune is able to express so much through so little while still holding the attention throughout the entire scene. Conversely, his flashes of passion are loud, powerful and all-encompassing. At three hours long, this Akira Kurosawa-directed masterpiece is best described as epic and best seen in one sitting. So be sure to plan a movie night, because Mifune’s portrayal of “Red Beard” is one that every cinephile, aspiring actor and overall movie fan should see.


Alloy Zarate, Features Editor

Greta Gerwig – ‘20th Century Women’ (2016)

No piece of media has had a greater influence on my life than “20th Century Women” where Greta Gerwig plays a punk photographer named Abbie living with a 50-year-old woman and her adolescent son in Santa Barbara. I immediately dyed my hair red after first watching this movie because Gerwig’s character also had red hair, modeled after David Bowie. The movie and her character defined my personality in high school and to this day I’ll tell people that my favorite band is the Talking Heads, a band predominantly featured in the movie. Any time I’m looking for something new to read, I’ll reference the list of feminist books that Abbie suggests to the teenage main characters. Gerwig’s character is the cool older mentor that I needed.


Ryan P. Cruz, Editor-in-Chief

Leonardo Dicaprio – ‘Romeo + Juliet’ (1996)

It’s nearly impossible to nail down which is Leonardo Dicaprio’s best performance—the legendary actor has been playing some of the greatest lead roles for over two decades and earned seven Oscar nominations over his career—but my favorite is Baz Luhrmann’s version of the Shakespeare tragedy “Romeo + Juliet.” A young Dicaprio plays opposite Claire Danes in a modern remake of the English classic that shows how much potential he had early in his career. The film came out only a year before his first blockbuster lead in Titanic, but even then it was obvious that he would go on to great things in Hollywood. Dicaprio has since starred in “Gangs of New York,” “Shutter Island,” “The Departed,” The Wolf of Wall Street” and “Once Upon a Time… In Hollywood” and earned his first Academy Award in 2016 with “The Revenant,” but his performance as Romeo still stands out as the first time moviegoers got to see his talent in action.


Rodrigo Hernandez, News Editor 

Robert De Niro – “The Irishman” (2019)

There is not a director and actor combo that is as powerful as that of Martin Scorsese and Robert De Niro. First working with Scorsese in 1973’s “Mean Streets,” the two have developed a rich and illustriously-memorable career, full of film classics and pop-culture references that have surpassed the test of time. With classics such as “Goodfellas,” “Taxi Driver,” “Raging Bull,” and more, there isn’t a director and actor combo that has even touched this level of output or quality. And all of this comes to a culmination in the three-and-a-half-hour epic-crime thriller, “The Irishman.” The character of Frank Sheeran being a cold-blooded killer would have made the performance feel heartless if it was a different actor. However, since it was actually De Niro who approached Scorsese with the idea of making the book “I Heard You Paint Houses” into a movie and with playing Sheeran, De Niro was able to understand the complexities of Sheeran’s life and in-turn gave us a performance that was filled with emotion but never over-the-top. When sharing the screen with big personalities such as Al Pacino, who is playing the even bigger personality of Jimmy Hoffa, it makes sense as to why the majority of Sheeran’s emotions are expressed through just the look of an eye or a subtle facial expression, and only De Niro is able to fully understand the weight and complexities that come with that kind of role.


Desiree Erdmann, Photo Editor

Florence Pugh – ‘Midsommar’ (2019)

When it comes to an actress that could do it all, my money is on Florence Pugh. Many actresses and actors that are hired for what they are known for are generally typecasted, playing the same type of character over and over again in different films. However, Pugh is chosen for her ability to play well-rounded and in-depth characters in any genre. The movie that I have chosen to highlight her abilities is “Midsommar,” a psychological thriller written and directed by Ari Aster. In the movie her talents shine through in how real and compelling she shows the mental instability and pains her character Dani goes through. There is never a moment in the movie where you do not know how Dani feels. As you watch this movie you will be on the edge of your seat waiting for the next time she appears on the screen. 


Jacob Frank, Opinion Editor

Jake Gyllenhaal – ‘Nightcrawler’ (2014)

Jake Gyllenhaal is a great actor, and I don’t just say that because we have similar names; his performance in the movie “Nightcrawler” will speak for itself. The movie is about a freelance breaking-news videographer who ends up resorting to drastic measures to find compelling stories. Gyllenhaal is able to become a completely different person in his own compelling way that I find both utterly convincing and extremely entertaining. The movie is a thrill and it is not his only movie that grips me at the edge of my seat. Films like “Southpaw” and “End of Watch” are no exceptions, and these are just the tip of his cinematic iceberg. Whether it’s a multi-million-dollar blockbuster such as “Spider-Man: Far From Home” or an indie film like “Donnie Darko”, Gyllenhaal is sure to put on quite a show, and he’s nowhere near through. I don’t even know if I can say that he is my all-time favorite actor — I’m not experienced enough to say I really have one — but his performance in “Nightcrawler” stuck with me, and that’s enough for me to know he has talent.