Maxim's "Who Played It Best?" Entertainment Awards

In our highly scientific rankings of Hollywood's greatest icons—from the Man of Steel to the Caped Crusader—we answer the big question for once and for all (with a little help from our readers).

ENTERTAINMENT  |  March 3, 2014By David Swanson


Best Superman

Illustrated for Maxim by John Euland | Licensed to Alpha Media Group 2014
 
The late, great Chris­topher Reeve made us believe a man could have X-ray vision, reverse Earth’s orbit, straighten the Leaning Tower of Pisa, fly, and make a legitimate career in journalism. Which is no small feat when you only have special effects from 1978 at your disposal.

1. Christopher Reeve, Superman I-IV
2. Henry Cavill, Man of Steel
3. George Reeves, Adventures of Superman (TV)
4. Tom Welling, Smallville (TV)
5. Dean Cain, Lois & Clark (TV)
6. Brandon Routh, Superman Returns
 
Best Darth Vader
Which filled fans with more giddy dread, the asthmatic baritone or the leather thigh-highs? It definitely wasn’t Jake Lloyd’s whining or Hayden’s rattail, that’s for shit sure.

1. James Earl Jones, The Voice of Darth Vader
2. David Prowse, The Body of Darth
3. Sebastian Shaw, Old Anakin
​4. Jake Lloyd, Young Anakin
​5. Hayden Christensen, Wooden Anakin

Best Hulk


1. Lou Ferrigno, The Incredible Hulk (TV)
2. Mark Ruffalo, The Avengers
3. Edward Norton, The Incredible Hulk
 
 
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Best James Bond
We’re as tired of lists ranking the Bonds as you are, and we wanted to pick someone fresh, but come on, you can’t top Sean. (Apologies to Daniel Craig’s pecs—you were a close second.)

1. Sean Connery
​2. Daniel Craig
3. Roger Moore
4. Timothy Dalton
5. Pierce Brosnan
6. George Lazenby
7. David Niven
 
Best King Arthur
Truly there is only one King Arthur who can yank our sword, inflict the Black Knight’s flesh wounds, and command his men to execute this little-known military tactic: “Run away!”

1. Graham Chapman, Monty Python and the Holy Grail
​2. Richard Harris, Camelot
3. Sean Connery, First Knight
4. Clive Owen, King Arthur
5. Nigel Terry, Excalibur
 
 
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Best Sherlock Holmes

Illustrated for Maxim by John Euland | Licensed to Alpha Media Group 2014
 
Rathbone’s is the classic, but Benedict Cumberbatch’s modern-day update takes the crumpet, if only because his name is even more ridiculous than Rathbone’s.

1. Benedict Cumberbatch, Sherlock (TV)
​2. Basil Rathbone, A shit-ton. Really, too many to mention.
3. Robert Downey Jr., Sherlock Holmes, Sherlock Holmes: Game of Shadows
4. Michael Caine, Without a Clue
5. Jonny Lee Miller, Elementary (TV)
 
Best Batman
When Tim Burton tapped Mr. Mom as his Caped Crusader, fanboys freaked. But holy casting, Batman, Keaton perfectly balanced fierce and funny. (Please don’t yell at us, Mr. Bale!)

1. Michael Keaton, Batman, Batman Returns
​2. Christian Bale, The Dark Knight Trilogy
3. Adam West, Batman (TV)
4. Val Kilmer, Batman Forever
5. George Clooney, Batman & Robin
 
 
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Best Woody Allen
Even if the Woodman himself isn’t the star, you can bet he’ll have some schmuck playing his surrogate, i.e., a neurotic nebbish. Is this cinematic masturbation? To paraphrase Woody, Don’t knock masturbation—it’s sex with someone you love.

1. John Cusack, Bullets Over Broadway
​2. Owen Wilson, Midnight in Paris
3. Scarlett Johansson, Scoop
4. Will Ferrell, Melinda and Melinda
5. Larry David, Whatever Works
6. Kenneth Branagh, Celebrity
 
Best Catwoman
We don’t want to leave anyone licking their wounds, but as fantastic as Halle Berry looked as Catwoman, the movie was so terrible we can’t rank her anywhere but last. Michelle Pfeiffer, however, was purrfect as the perfect 10 with nine lives.

1. Michelle Pfeiffer, Batman Returns
​2. Julie Newmar, Batman (TV, 1966-67)
3. Anne Hathaway, The Dark Knight Rises
4. Eartha Kitt, Batman (TV, 1967-68)
5. Halle Berry, Catwoman

Best Elvis


1. Val Kilmer, True Romance
2. Bruce Campbell, Bubba Ho-Tep
3. Jack White, Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story
 
 
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Best Marilyn Monroe

Illustrated for Maxim by John Euland | Licensed to Alpha Media Group 2014

 
Taking on the role of the ultimate bombshell is no easy task, but damned if Michelle Williams didn’t pull it off in her Oscar-nominated performance. Speaking of Oscars, Franco gets points for sheer cojones.

1. Michelle Williams, My Week With Marilyn
​2. Ashley Judd, Norma Jean and Marilyn
3. James Franco, at the 2011 Oscars
4. Mira Sorvino, Norma Jean and Marilyn
5. (Tie) Katharine McPhee, Uma Thurman, and Megan Hilty, Smash (TV)
 
Best Santa Claus
By our count some 50-odd actors have played Saint Nick, some of whom have surely landed themselves on the naughty list. (Baldwin, we’re looking at you.) But sorry, Alec and all you other chubby impostors—there’s only one lap we’d like to sit on at Christmas. And that lap belongs to Ed Asner.

1. Edward Asner, Elf
​2. Edmund Gwenn, Miracle on 34th Street
3. Tim Allen, The Santa Clause
4. Richard Griffiths, A Muppets Christmas: Letters to Santa (TV)
5. Paul Giamatti, Fred Clause
 
 
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Best Dracula

lIlustrated for Maxim by John Euland | Licensed to Alpha Media Group 2014

He’s played everyone from Sid Vicious to Lee Harvey Oswald to Commissioner Gordon to Beethoven, so you know Gary Oldman had the chops to sink his teeth into this legendary role…even if he had to contend with Keanu Reeves as his nemesis.

1. Gary Oldman, Bram Stoker's Dracula
​2. Bela Lugosi, Dracula (1931)
3. Max Schreck, Nosferatu
4. Christopher Lee, Horror of Dracula... and many others
5. Frank Langella, Dracula, (1979)
6. Leslie Nielsen, Dracula: Dead and Loving It
7. Gerard Butler, Dracula 2000
8. Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Dracula (TV)
 
Best Andy Warhol
An image-obsessed, sexually androgynous artistic genius? How did Bowie possibly pull it off?

1. David Bowie, Basquiat
​2. Bill Hader, Men in Black 3
3. Jared Harris, I Shot Andy Warhol
4. Crispin Glover, The Doors
5. Guy Pearce, Factory Girl
 
 
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Best Robin Hood
Every decade we get a new take (Crowe: dour! Elwes: cheeky! Costner: from Malibu!), but given Flynn’s performance, it’s a wonder they even bother. Ironically, this was not a “tight” race.

1. Errol Flynn, The Adventures of Robin Hood
​2. A Fox, Disney's Robin Hood
3. Cary Elwes, Robin Hood: Men in Tights
4. Sean Connery, Robin and Marian
5. Kevin Costner, Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves
6. Russell Crowe, Robin Hood
 
Best Devil

Illustrated for Maxim by John Euland | Licensed to Alpha Media Group 2014
 
Satan, Beelzebub, Luci­fer...Whatever you call him, the Dark Lord (hey, there’s another one!) has been portrayed by a Mount Rushmore of acting icons (and Liz Hurley). But while Bobby went sinister, Jack went suave, and Harvey went camp, it’s Pacino’s Pacino-at-his-Pacino-est take (hoo-ah!) that we’d sell our souls for.

1. Al Pacino, Devil's Advocate
​2. Robert De Niro, Angel Heart
3. Elizabeth Hurley, Bedazzled
4. Jack Nicholson, The Witches of Eastwick
5. Harvey Keitel, Little Nicky


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Best God

1. George Burns, Oh God!
2. Morgan Freeman, Bruce Almighty
3. Alanis Morissette, Dogma

Best Al Capone
Robinson as “Little Caesar” is a classic, see, and Graham is bloody great on TV, but playing the Chicago crime boss in The Untouchables, De Niro hit it out of the park. With a bat. Get it?

1. Robert De Niro, The Untouchables
​2. Edward G. Robinson, Little Caesar
3. Stephen Graham, Boardwalk Empire (TV)
4. Jason Robards, The St. Valentine's Day Massacre
5. Ben Gazzara, Capone
6. Rod Steiger, Al Capone