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Top 5 Best Actors of 2006

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2006 wasn't the best year for actresses but it was definitely a banner year for actors - and for one actor in particular. Leonardo DiCaprio delivered the sort of performances everyone knew he had him with leading roles in Martin Scorsese's The Departed and Edward Zwick's Blood Diamond. Other than the obvious choice of DiCaprio, narrowing the field to just the five best of the lot was a tough deal. I argued with myself over the final 5 for days. I'd like to say I'm 100% positive I got the Top 5 right, but I'd be lying.

Honorable Mentions: Edward Norton, Patrick Wilson, Ben Whishaw, Hugh Jackman, and Gael Garcia Bernal

1. Leonardo DiCaprio - Blood Diamond

Leonardo DiCaprio in Blood Diamond
© Warner Bros Pictures
It's really six of one, half a dozen of the other as far as whether Leonardo DiCaprio earns the top spot for playing a South African diamond smuggler in Blood Diamond or a cop undercover with the mob in The Departed. DiCaprio's easily one of the best actors of his generation and in both films he disappeared inside the characters.

2. Ryan Gosling - Half Nelson

Ryan Gosling and Shareeka Epps in Half Nelson
© THINKFilm
Enough can't be said about Ryan Gosling's brilliant portrayal of a conflicted junior high school teacher in the absorbing drama, Half Nelson. Gosling's tackled emotionally charged roles prior to this one, but Half Nelson catapults him to a whole new level.

3. Forest Whitaker - The Last King of Scotland

Forest Whitaker in "Last King of Scotland."
© Fox Searchlight
Always dependable, always interesting to watch, Forest Whitaker delivers the goods in The Last King of Scotland. Whitaker actually makes the audience feel empathy for the crazy dictator Idi Amin, something few actors could accomplish so well.

4. Sacha Baron Cohen - Borat

© 20th Century Fox
Sacha Baron Cohen never broke character while filming Borat. He also managed to do exactly what he set out to do with the movie, no matter who the target or what the repercussions might have been. For pushing the envelope and not backing off, Cohen earns a spot on my Top 5 list.

5. Aaron Eckhart - Thank You for Smoking

Aaron Eckhart in Thank You for Smoking.
© Fox Searchlight
Thank You for Smoking is such a great ensemble piece that Aaron Eckhart's performance might be overlooked. But Eckhart takes the role of a publicist for the tobacco industry and runs with it, licking his chops like a lion going in for the kill. Eckhart does an unbelievable job of making a tobacco apologist into a guy you'd like to have as a friend. That's what I call acting.

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