The typical movie star of days past is a fading concept: a movie’s lead doesn’t really go into consideration when an audience wants to see a particular film. However, although they may be less accountable for their choices in movies, many current actors still emphasize the quality of the pictures they appear in.
Sometimes, actors will choose to appear in numerous first-rate projects in a row, creating a streak in their resumes. Usually excluded for some of the greatest actors of their time with keen eyes for top projects, these are some of the best movie streaks ever undertaken by a performer.
10 Harrison Ford (1980-1990)
If anyone had reservations over whom the top star of the 1980s was, their hesitancy would swiftly be quashed after seeing Harrison Ford’s streak through that decade. Beginning with reprising his role as Han Solo in The Empire Strikes Back, Ford would headline two of the top franchises of all time during that decade, Star Wars and Indiana Jones.
Alongside those blockbusters, Ford would star in a few genre films that became big hits, including the crime film Witness, the romantic dramedy Working Girl, the legal thriller Presumed Innocent, and the cult sci-fi thriller Blade Runner. In addition, even Ford’s commercial busts like Frantic and The Mosquito Coast are pretty interesting. Showcasing great versatility, the ’80s proved Ford to be a valiant hero and a vulnerable man in trouble.
9 Jessica Chastain (2011-2016)
A Julliard trainer actor, Jessica Chastain sharpened her skills on the theater stage during the 2000s before her cinematic breakout in 2011, appearing in six films that year. From there, Chastain grew into one of the most prominent and lauded movie stars of the 2010s. Beginning with 2011’s arresting Take Shelter, Chastain would continue her esteemed stretch until 2016’s Miss Sloane.
During that period, Chastain would work equally with excellent up-and-coming filmmakers like Jeff Nichols and J.C. Chandor, and household names like Christopher Nolan and Ridley Scott. Furthermore, Chastain would showcase her characteristic poise and strength in supporting roles like The Martian and leading ones like Zero Dark Thirty.
8 Dustin Hoffman (1973-1982)
For a couple of years following The Graduate in 1967, Dustin Hoffman‘s career stalled for a very peculiar reason: he was so convincing as Benjamin Braddock that audiences and studios strained to imagine him in any other roles. That changed as his career went on, and Hoffman would soon prove to be one of the best actors of his generation, and his ’70s spell is almost unmatched.
Beginning with Papillon, Hoffman would appear in some of the best movies by some of cinema’s greatest directors, including Lenny, All the President’s Men, and Marathon Man all in a row. After being nominated for three Best Actor Oscars during that time, Hoffman would conclude that series with the Best Picture nominated Kramer vs. Kramer and Tootsie.
7 Al Pacino (1971-1979)
One of the most legendary actors of all time, most rightfully associate Al Pacino’s apex with the 1970s, in which he appeared in many of the decade’s most legendary films. In a decade that saw him receive five Oscar nominations, Pacino’s most notable turn was as Michael Corleone in The Godfather trilogy (then a duology), which has since become one of the most iconic film portrayals in history.
While the role of Michael Corleone showed off Pacino’s quiet menace, he also became renowned for his passion and fervor, such as in Dog Day Afternoon or …And Justice For All, both of which are two of the best films of the decade. Discounting Bobby Deerfield, every other movie Pacino appeared in in the ’70s is very good, with enough esteemed entries to forgive the 1977 bust.
6 Robert De Niro (1973-1980)
The Magic Johnson to Pacino’s Larry Bird, Robert De Niro‘s ’70s stretch is arguably even greater than his future Heat co-stars. Starting with the underrated Bang the Drum Slowly and the heralded Mean Streets, the decade would see De Niro reunite with Martin Scorsese for two more all-time movies and performances, Travis Bickle in Taxi Driver and Jake LaMotta in Raging Bull.
However, if these lionized films weren’t enough, De Niro also had prominent roles in The Godfather Part 2 and The Deer Hunter, two of the best films of the 1970s and of all time. De Niro would make a conscious effort to work with some of the world’s best directors, and even his more flawed films from that decade, like 1900 or The Last Tycoon, were helmed by cinematic legends.
5 Brad Pitt (2007-2012)
The 1990s saw Brad Pitt struggle with the pull to be a populous movie star or an uncommonly handsome character actor. However, in the 21st century, Pitt grew into the actor he was meant to become, which is exemplified by his 2007-2012 stretch. The run was highlighted by a diversity of projects which saw Pitt appear in crime, romance, animated, war, western and comedy films.
Whether he was a true blue movie star, like in Moneyball, or part of an ensemble, like in Inglorious Basterds, the overarching lesson of that spell for Pitt was to work with the best filmmakers: Steven Soderbergh, David Fincher, Quentin Tarantino, the Coen brothers. Those are just some of the illustrious auteurs Pitt acted under during that time, showing that the best directors will put you in the best spot to succeed.
4 Meryl Streep (1977-1981)
A theater actor throughout the 1970s, Meryl Streep would hit the ground running after she transitioned into film in 1977. Following going toe to toe with some of the best actors of their generation, including Jane Fonda and Vanessa Redgrave in Julia, Streep would achieve three of her 21 Academy Award nominations over the next four years.
Showcasing chameleonic adaptability, all the movies Streep would appear in during that run would be, at the very least, very good, with some, like The Deer Hunter, Manhattan, and Kramer vs. Kramer becoming accepted as classics. In the intervening years, Streep has remained one of the most prolific and celebrated actors with numerous top movies in her filmography, but her early stint remains her finest.
3 Philip Seymour Hoffman (2007-2008)
Movie for movie, Philip Seymour Hoffman‘s filmography is impeccable. That is a testament to his ability to choose good projects and how much he elevates a movie with his presence. Hoffman would have a few great eras throughout his too short a career, but his best will always be from 2007-2008.
Maybe the best two-year run in movie history, Hoffman would feature, in order: The Savages, Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead, Charlie Wilson’s War, Synecdoche, New York, and Doubt. Those films would offer an insight into many of the versions of Hoffman’s screen persona, including the exasperated commoner, commanding sleazeball, and dying soul.
2 John Cazale (1972-1978)
A eulogized actor who is often the first mentioned among the greatest character actors in the history of cinema, John Cazale‘s vaunted stretch is his entire filmography. Appearing in five films over seven years, all of them are regarded as some of the best of the ’70s, and each was nominated for Best Picture at the Academy Awards.
The ultimate scene partner, Cazale turned meek and quiet characters into living, breathing people. In his limited career, he would appear opposite Al Pacino, Gene Hackman, and Robert De Niro, bringing out the best in actors regarded as some of the finest of all time. Too short, Cazale’s career is a unique spectacle that will never be duplicated.
1 Tom Hanks (1993-2002)
When doing the greatest movie star of all time knockout tournament, Tom Hanks’s 1993-2002 stretch will be his instant bid for one of the top seeds. Culminating in back-to-back Best Actor Oscars for Philadelphia and Forrest Gump, Hanks would build on his reputation in comedy and lighter films to become not just a great leading actor but a versatile one too.
Hanks would have iconic turns in everything, from dramas to rom-coms to animated films. His movies, which would typically gross over $100 million, would also customarily be critically acclaimed. Perhaps the highest honor Hanks could have ever achieved was carrying a movie, Cast Away, which sees him alone with the audience for most of its run time, be critically lauded and gross over $400 million.
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