How you know an actor/actress is REALLY good

How do you know an actor or actress is phenomenal? That's easy.

His or her performances should elicit intense emotions in you.

You know the person has put in a sensational performance when you find yourself rooting for him or her all throughout. And, if they're playing the role of villain, you know they've done a brilliant job when you hate their living guts and can't wait for the character to pay for what they've done.

However, a couple of actors and actresses take this a step further. Some play the role of villain so well that you still admire the character despite his or her evil deeds. Here are two examples:

  • Robert De Niro: There's a reason I call this guy my favorite actor of all time. His uncanny ability to play a mobster or thief in serious action thrillers (e.g. Goodfellas, Casino, The Score, Heat) and play a mobster, cop or agent in comedic flicks (e.g. Analyze This, Meet the Fockers, Showtime) shows how remarkably versatile he is. He is such a charming villain that you almost don't want him to get caught.
  • Heath Ledger: Heath Ledger's spectacular performance as the Joker in The Dark Knight earned him a posthumous Academy Award. He played the role so impeccably that the viewer much preferred his twisted antics to watching Batman save the day. 
An actor or actress who can make you laugh, smile, seethe with anger, or cry has done something right. It's too bad these kinds of performances tend to be the exception rather than the rule these days. Unfortunately, far too many of these Hollywood stars phone it in for an easy paycheck. Nothing irks me more than feeling I wasted my time and money on a horrible movie.

Do you agree? Which actors/actresses do you feel are so good as to invoke such powerful emotions?

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