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As we approach 2025 and the end of the 21st century’s first quarter, we wanted to look back to see which actors, actresses, directors, and movies have stood the test of time. With that in mind, for the rest of the year, the Bitesize Top Five will be giving a consensus view on what we think are the Bests of everything since 2000. We are only looking at work released since January 1, 2000, so don’t get mad because your favourites of the 90s didn’t make it.

As always, each writer ranks his or her top 15 in the category. Those lists are then weighted on a reverse point system. After all the points are tallied up, the entries with the most total points make up the Bitesize Top Five.

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From a supporting role in Endless Love at the age of 19 to the Oscar-nominated Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning at 60, Tom Cruise’s renowned career and famous love of stunt work has cemented him as one of the best actors of the century, and my personal first choice for the title. His iconic filmography from just the last 25 years includes Collateral, Minority Report, War of the Worlds, Tropic Thunder, Edge of Tomorrow, The Last Samurai, and so many more. Not only is he an incredible actor, but he may well have revived the industry from the impacts of the pandemic with Top Gun: Maverick, which earned just shy of $1.5 billion worldwide. I believe Tom Cruise is one of our last true Hollywood stars, and his films have and will continue to thrill audiences everywhere. - Katie

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The word that comes to mind for me when I think of Christian Bale's career is versatility. He started off the century with a bang as Patrick Bateman in American Psycho, then proceeded to star in every genre possible, be it sci-fi, thriller, western, romance, war, or comedy. He even mixed in a few established franchises (Batman, The Terminator, Thor). However, it's his work portraying real-life people where he truly shines brightest. As a matter of fact, on three different occasions these have led to Oscar nominations, with his work in The Fighter taking the trophy. At just 50 years old, we can expect many more memorable showings, and likely some more hardware to come. - Nick

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Remember the Titans. The Notebook. Half Nelson. Blue Valentine. Drive. Crazy, Stupid, Love. The Place Beyond the Pines. The Big Short. The Nice Guys. La La Land. Blade Runner 2049. The Gray Man. Barbie. Ryan Thomas Gosling has dominated the totality of the 21st century (not to mention, even before, as a child actor). With a childhood that loosely resembled my own, being around the same age, and whose restaurant is a testament to a similar passion for food, it is easy to feel a personal connection to the acting star. The similarities end there, though, as his unending talent as a dancer, singer, and actor with spot-on comedic timing is enough to hate him; if his charm, wit, and character weren’t enough to absolutely adore him. - Preston

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It’s no surprise that Mr. Brad Pitt is #2 on this list. The man can truly do it all: lead a film, be a trusty sidekick, and even shine in a cameo role. From Snatch, Burn After Reading, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Inglourious Basterds, and the Ocean's trilogy to his most recent features, Bullet Train and Babylon, he has starred in some of the most iconic movies of the past two decades. Over the past 24 years, he has been nominated for an Oscar three times for acting, finally winning Best Supporting Actor in Quentin Tarantino's Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. He has consistently demonstrated that he has the charisma, swagger, and acting chops necessary to be considered one of the few true movie stars left in Hollywood. - Paige

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Leo might not be my favorite actor in the world, and he might not even be the best actor in the world (that’s an amazing debate topic, though). What’s not debatable, though, is that there really wasn’t another answer here for best actor this century. The man has been in his bag even before Y2K was a thing, but when that new millennium hit, there was no looking back. How it took 15 years and a bear fight for him to finally get an Oscar makes no sense when Jordan Belfort, Frank Abagnale Jr., Cobb, and dozens of other iconic roles demonstrated the absolute monster that is Leonardo Wilhelm DiCaprio. If his name is on it, you’re gonna go see it. You know I ain’t lying. - Amarú



Photo Credits: Photo 1 - Paramount Pictures; Photo 2, 4, 5 - Warner Bros.; Photo 3 - Scandia Entertainment

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