After rewatching The Departed for the 73rd time, I realized DiCaprio and Damons’ performances were comparable to LeBron vs. Durant in the NBA Finals. I got to wondering if DiCaprio is the LeBron James of acting who is the Michael Jordan of acting? Who’s the Kevin Durant or Russell Westbrook or even the Robert Horry of acting?
Leonard DiCaprio-LeBron James
Until The Departed Leo was pre-2011, Dirk Nowitzki. A good actor, but could never get it done in a gritty movie, Dirk’s reputation was he was a great player but when the going got rough he disappeared.
DiCaprio in The Departed showed that he was the best actor of his generation much like LeBron is the best player of his generation. DiCaprio’s performance in The Departed is comparable to LeBron’s 2013 season. They were both at the top of their game and nothing can stop them.
Ever since DiCaprio’s performance as Billy Costigan he has played roles that nobody thought he would ever play. He stopped playing the pretty boy or the charismatic bachelor, he won an Oscar for playing a grunting revenge-driven mountain man. After LeBron’s 2013 season there was no debate on whether or not he was the best in the world, and after The Departed it was clear Leo was the G.O.A.T. of his generation.
Matt Damon-Kevin Durant
Matt Damon played opposite of Leonardo DiCaprio in The Departed, the yin to DiCaprio’s yang. Damon already played some tough roles like in The Talented Mr. Ripley, Courage Under Fire, Good Will Hunting, and Saving Private Ryan. Damon may not be the greatest actor of his generation, but he’s definitely top 3. KD isn’t the best player of his generation, but he’s definitely top 3.
Damon can go places actors like DiCaprio (pre-The Departed) or even Pacino couldn’t go. You want him to lose an unhealthy amount of weight? Done. You want him to play a sociopath? No problem.
Durant is much like Damon because I’m pretty sure The Talented Mr. Ripley is Durant’s favorite movie. I believe he studied that movie while in OKC to see how to get out of there. There are even reports Durant took Westbrook out on his boat, but unfortunately, Durant didn’t go through with the murder.
Durant may not be able to carry a team by himself like Damon can’t carry a movie by himself, but they are without a doubt generation talents.
Mark Wahlberg-Russell Westbrook
Wahlberg and Westbrook have a lot in common. They both have alpha dog energy even if they’re not always the best in what they’re doing, they always give 100%, and they both have interesting careers. Wahlberg doesn’t always choose the best movie, like Westbrook doesn’t always take the best shots, but when Wahlberg has a good script like Russ being on a good team, watch out.
Wahlberg isn’t the best actor like Russ isn’t the best player, but they are good at what they do. Wahlberg has a lot of clunkers (the Daddy’s Home movies, The Happening, or Max Payne), and Russell has some clunkers (2009 season, 2018 season, and the 2020 season). But when Wahlberg has a good script (The Fighter, The Departed, or Patriots Day) he steals the show whenever he’s on-screen. When Russ has a good team he steals the show with flashy dunks, great passes, and clutch 3’s.
They both have alpha dog energy like I said earlier even though they may not be the best actor or player on set or on the court.
Denzel Washington-Michael Jordan
I won’t even list Denzel’s filmography or MJ’s stats because you already know them. Denzel’s run in the ‘90s is something no actor has ever done, much like MJ’s two three-peats in the ‘90s. Denzel like MJ inspired an entire generation, and we’ll never see another Denzel or MJ again.
Tom Hanks-Larry Bird
I know I just said that Denzel’s run in the ‘90s is something no actor has ever done, but Tom Hanks did his best impression of Denzel’s run. Hanks was nominated 3 times in the ‘90s winning twice. Larry Bird had a Jordan-esque run in the ‘90s before it was Jordan-esque.
Hanks is a once-in-the-lifetime talent just like Larry “Legend” is a once-in-a-lifetime type of player. Hanks can do comedy, Larry could shoot 3’s, Hanks can act his ass off in dramas, Larry was clutch as hell.
Hanks and Bird, that sounds like a crappy ‘80s cop show. I would no doubt watch every episode of that show with no shame…maybe a little.
Brad Pitt-Tim Duncan
Brad Pitt doesn’t get enough attention for being an incredibly smart actor. He chooses roles he knows he can crush, just like Timmy D puts himself in situations to win. Sure, Duncan could’ve left San Antonio for more money and wine easy rings over in L.A., instead, he signed modest contracts so the front office could sign good players to surround him.
Pitt declined a role in The Departed because he knew he couldn’t have pulled off a Southie accent. Duncan picked his spots to shine like in the 2005 NBA Finals, or in the 2003 Western Conference Semifinals. Every few years Pitt gives everything he has for a role like in Fight Club, Snatch, or 12 Monkeys. Pitt like Duncan did the things he had to do, to do the things he wanted to do. Duncan would save himself late in the regular season so he could give 110% in the playoffs. Pitt does a movie like Troy so he can do a movie like Babel.
Pitt may not be the most flashy actor, but he gets the job done and does the job very well. Peak Duncan wasn’t even fun to watch, it was boring as hell, but he always finished the game with a 28/11/4 blocks line. The two knew how to pick their spots, and dominated whenever called upon whether it was on the screen or on the court.
Ben Affleck-Vince Carter-Karl Malone
For most of the ‘90s, Affleck hung around showing up in Kevin Smith movies or playing the dumb jock in Dazed and Confused. But then he co-wrote and co-starred in Good Will Hunting. The sky was the limit for Affleck after Good Will Hunting like the sky was the limit for Vince Carter after being drafted by the Raptors. The two then wasted their potential and instead went for money grabs. For Affleck that meant acting in movies like Gigli and for Carter that meant requesting a trade to New Jersey.
Unlike Carter, however, Affleck decided to make something of his career. He then went on an absolute tear, he made: Gone Baby Gone, State of Play, The Town, Argo, and Gone Girl. All great movies that revived his career, during that run he went from being the Vince Carter of acting to the Karl Malone of acting. He started making great movie after great movie, he really was “the mailman” of acting for 7 years. Hit after hit which led to him playing Batman. Instead of being like Vince and being content with mediocrity, he turned himself into one of the best actors/directors in Hollywood.
Miles Teller-Kyrie Irving
Because they’re both anti-vax idiots.
Willem Dafoe-Robert Horry
Willem Dafoe can be a leading man, but we all know he’s at his best when he’s the fifth lead of a Wes Anderson movie or an Oliver Stone movie. Horry was never the star of the team he was on, but he wasn’t given the nickname “Big Shot Bob” for no reason. Horry made so many clutch shots I couldn’t even tell you how many he made, but it was a lot. Whether he was in Houston or L.A. or San Antonio Horry knew his role and did what he could to win the game for his team. Like I said Dafoe is at his best when he’s the fifth lead in an ensemble cast, but when he’s given a scene to show his acting chops he shows audiences that he’s one of the most underrated actors to ever grace the screen.
I could go on, but I think I’ll save my many other comparisons for a part 2…….