The 25 Best Movie Performances of the Decade

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10. Heath Ledger as Ennis Del Mar
Brokeback Mountain (2005)

While his performance as the Joker in The Dark Knight certain deserves the acclaim it’s been given, Heath Ledger’s true tour de force was his understated work in Brokeback Mountain. Ledger brought a driving force to the movie which complimented its contemplative tone and showed a true, classical brilliance in acting that left you convinced that his character was real. Sean Gandert


9. Don Cheadle as Paul Rusesabagina
Hotel Rwanda (2004)

As director Terry George found from his own research, this story of the 1994 Rwandan genocide unfortunately wrote itself. On the other hand, Cheadle’s portrayal as its hero seemed to rise from a passion he held within himself, transforming the role into a career golden standard still relevant today. Christina Lee


8. Felicity Huffman as Bree Osbourne
Transamerica (2005)

Between her TV roles on Sports Night and Desperate Housewives, Felicity Huffman showed her amazing range, playing a transexual woman who finds out she’s a father a week before her sexual reassignment surgery. Josh Jackson


7. Mickey Rourke as Randy “The Ram” Robinson
The Wrestler (2008)

This tale of a professional wrestler 20 years after his prime resembles the life of the starring actor himself, who returns to Hollywood one boxing career, one shattered cheekbone and five nose operations later. And as the wrestler searched for solace from everything he once abandoned from his sport, the role tore apart Rourke’s surgically reconstucted, sun-weathered exterior to reestablish his niche in Hollywood, if only because of one line: “I’m an old, broken-down piece of meat, and I deserve to be alone.” Christina Lee


6. Amy Adams as Ashley Johnsten
Junebug (2005)

She might have technically been a supporting character, but Amy Adams made the most of every moment on screen. Born in Italy and raised in Colorado, she was the rare non-Southern actor who seemed to be molded from North Carolina clay. Josh Jackson