FearlessRiOT’s Year-End Top 10: Favorite Actors of 2016

#10. Chris Evans10

I read somewhere that Chris Evans is planning in retiring from acting sometime in the near future. If anything makes that more apparent, it’s his slowed down output in recent years; the Marvel Cinematic Universe seems to be the only thing keeping him going at this point. And to his credit, not only does he always do such a great job bringing Steve Rogers to life in the big screen, but the movies brandishing his character’s namesake in the title usually tend to be the best ones too. Both Winter Soldier and Civil War were brilliant films, focusing on the friendship between Rogers and Bucky Barnes that just ends up with them in a ton of trouble. He didn’t necessarily have to carry Civil War on his shoulders since it had a ton of superheroes in it, but he did have to carry the emotion weight of Captain America wanting to protect his friend from harm while also knowing the consequences, and he pulls them off fine. Not fine enough to get past #10, because again, only one performance all year, but still fine.

#9. Robert Downey Jr.9

Like his fellow Avenger Chris Evans, Robert Downey Jr. makes this list despite very few credits on the big screen this year. Tying Chris Evans for the amount of movies appeared in for 2016, he earns this spot due to sheer personality alone. The MCU usually has decent performances all around from it’s actors, and Robert Downey Jr. has always been one of the most entertaining when on-camera. I’m not saying that it means I was totally on Tony Stark’s side in Civil War; he did bring up some good points, but as a rebel-at-heart myself, I couldn’t completely be against Cap. Also, I felt for Scarlet Witch when he stuck her in that apartment. But it’s true that it’s hard not to get drawn in by Downey Jr. playing the character. And his role as a mentor to the new Spider-Man will continue with Spider-Man: Homecoming  next year, and that’s a good thing as far as I’m concerned. His scenes with Tom Holland were some of the best in Civil War.

#8. Denzel Washington8

Denzel Washington is such a film icon that he’s seemingly earned lifetime goodwill points. If he ever does anything that makes the general public question his very character, which is doubtful if WatchMojo certifying him as down-to-earth is anything to go by, you can just pop in Training Day, Malcom X, Philadelphia, American Gangster, or whatever your favorite Denzel flick is and toss those rogue thoughts right out the window. At the top of the year, he won a special honor from the Golden Globes Awards:  Cecel B. DeMille Award, his family by his side. It’s basically the equivalent of a Lifetime Achievement Award, but that doesn’t necessarily make it a “Your Old, Now Please Chill Out” honor. At least Denzel doesn’t take it that way because the guy appeared in two big movies this year: The Magnificent Seven and the adaptation of the August Wilson play Fences.

#7. Zac Efron7

Zac Efron never has to do another dramatic film as long as he lives. He’s tried giving it a go in the past, usually to either mixed or very poor results. As far as Disney Channel stars trying drama, he’s still miles ahead of Miley Cyrus, but even Selena Gomez in Spring Breakers seems to be higher on the totem pole than Zefron in films like Charlie St. Cloud. But the comedy genre seems to have really given him his niche in Hollywood, especially after the first Neighbors film, a movie in which he was definitely the most entertaining part of. He did so well playing the leader of a group of prankster part animals that they bought him back for the 2016 sequel Neighbots 2: Sorority Rising. His other two comedic efforts this year, Dirty Grandpa and Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates, weren’t as well received, but even Zac Efron can get some laughs out of any ridiculous material these days. I almost guarantee Dwayne Johnson will get the funniest lines in their upcoming Baywatch film though.

#6. Kevin Hart6

First, some news that I’m sure some of you weren’t aware of: Real Husbands of Hollywood is still on the air. In fact, they’ve even managed to get fallen R&B star Robin Thicke to return. He departed before season two after “Blurred Lines” gave him music’s quickest rise and fall story of the decade, but in Season One, his “feud” with Kevin Hart was a highlight. Hart has been a constant on the show since the very beginning, and if he ever chose to depart, I think the show would go along with him since it basically revolves around him anyway. I’m shocked he hasn’t put the show on the backburner; he’s one of Hollywood’s most in-demand comedic actors these days, popping up in so many comedic films, you’d think his comedic supply for them all would be exhausted by now. This year alone had Ride Along 2Central Intelligence, and a movie where he voiced a damn bunny rabbit. The Secret Life of Pets had him voicing a cuddly little hare and it was actually successful. That’s mental, but it also speaks volumes for Hart’s star power.

#5. Andy Samberg5

Everyone’s favorite white boy comedy rappers (aside from Vanilla Ice, maybe) finally decided to bring that all of that silly swagger to the big screen in 2016. Even though he’s playing the role of a fictional man-child named Connor4Real, Andy Samberg, along with his friends and Lonely Island collaborators Akiva and Jorma, released what could easily be seen as a fictional Lonely Island biopic as much as it is a mockumentary, Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping. I take it many of you haven’t seen this movie as it bombed at the box office, making about as much money as Connor4Real’s album did in the actual movie. But financial failure or not, it doesn’t change the fact that the movie itself is actually pretty damn funny, with Samberg’s Bieber-esque mannerisms and superstar confidence being an entertaining tool for the parody of real life celebs who assume that they’re big shots (I’m just gonna say the word “Bieber” again for no real reason.) But if it’s too much for you, maybe you’d prefer his role as a cop on the comedy Brooklyn Nine-Nine just a bit more.

#4. Will Smith4

The Freshest Prince to ever be a prince with 100% certified freshness has been at this film thing since the 90’s and is one of the highest grossing and most popular actors in all of Hollywood. If you ever needed a reason for why he hasn’t released an album since 2005’s Lost and Found, which contained the still awesome “Switch”, the many, many 0’s on his acting checks is all the reason you need for why he’s making his living on screens. Plus, his children kind of have the music thing on-lock, I think; note to self: check out Jaden’s SoundCloud later. Big Will this year starred in a couple of films, Collatoral Beauty and Suicide Squad. The latter lands him here because while the movie may not have been all that, his performance as Deadshot was. It was basically Will Smith being Will Smith again, only this time without any hair, but he was so cool in the role that I was able to just sit back and enjoy.

#3. Chris Pratt3

How awesome does the Guardians of the Galaxy trailer look? If you answer anything other than some iteration og “flipping epic”, I’ll know you’re lying. The first film was such a huge smash and grew such a following that the marketing so far has revolved around a tree who (spoilers) died in the first movie, only to return to life in a miniature form affectionately dubbed “Baby Groot”. But that’s not to say he’s the only star of the show; he still has partners by his side, one of them being Peter “Starlord” Quill. The character that gave former sitcom star Chris Pratt his big screen breakthrough, Quill looks to still be the butt of Drax’s accidentally misunderstanding humor again, but I expect Quill to kick just as much butt this go round as he did the first time. Maybe even more butt than he kicked on the big screen this year. He shared the screen with two Osar winners, Denzel Washington and Jennifer Lawrence, in 2016. The Magnificent Seven came and went and the most press Passengers got was for Jennifer Lawrence’s misguided, insensitive attempt at humor. (What else is new?) But Pratt is coming into his own as a big screen star, and his evolution from Andy Dwyer to where he is now has been a joy to watch.

#2. Donald Glover2

One of the true multi-taskers of the entertainment industry, Donald Glover first got big to the world by way of his comedy. Never forget that he’d previously written for Tina Fey’s TV institution 30 Rock. I know you won’t forget about his time on the comedy series Community, one of those TV shows that epitomizes never knowing what you have until it’s gone. From then on, I always knew he’d continue acting, with a potential future role in the Spider-Man franchise always being in the conversation, but I always paid attention to his musical endeavours as Childish Gambino more. But here’s an idea: why not combine music AND acting into one show? He did that with Atlanta, a brilliant show I’ll get into in the TV Shows list. And he may pop up on this list again in the coming years, with appearances both in the MCU and the Star Wars universe.

#1. Dwayne Johnson1

What can I say except “You’re welcome”. At WrestleMania 32 this year, The Rock entered the venue with badass flamethrower, setting his name ablaze. It was a memorable entrance befitting someone of Dwayne Johnson’s A-list magnitude. Did anyone ever imagine that when he stepped away from the ring full time in 2003 for a career in Hollywood that he’d become THIS big. The Rundown was a lot of fun, but not a huge hit. Subsequent movies seemed to follow that same frame of critical analysis. But since 2010, he is THE Man in Hollywood, and he made it to the big screen this year with two different partners in crime. After bringing the hilarity with Kevin Hart in Central Intelligence, he brought the action when he voiced Maui in Disney’s Moana. They even let him sing in that latter one. And that’s not even to mention the films he has on the way, including Jumanji, where he’s reunited with Kevin Hart, Baywatch, where he’s reunited with Alexandra Daddario and paired with Zac Efron, and the next Fast & Furious filled, where he’s reunited with his “family” and Vin Diesel.

Honorable Mentions:

Chadwick Boseman & Tom Holland – Lumping both of these two together because they both make it on here for the same reason: being so awesome in Captain American: Civil War that Spiderman: Homecoming and Black Panther are my second and third most anticipated upcoming Marvel film (behind Guardians 2 and just ahead of Captain Marvel).

Jussie Smollett – I probably could have put any of the other male actors from Empire on here, but Jussie character is the one I most care about story-wise at this point.

Seth Rogen– Mainly for Neighbors 2 and not so much Sausage Party, though I heard that movie was pretty good despite the questionable working conditions.

Chris Hemsworth – Almost made the list, actually. Probably would have if Thor popped in for Civil War. Instead, he was in Ghostbusters and The Huntsman: Winter’s War.

Jason Bateman – Here entirely due to Zootopia, where he played a fox I swear is supposed to be a descendant of Robin Hood.

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