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Determining the Greatest Acting Streaks of All Time

(Getty)Do anything long enough and there's bound to be a few missteps along the way. That's certainly true for the film industry. Even great actors make bad movies, which makes it difficult to definitively determine the "greatest actor of all time." But to even be in that conversation, an actor has to have a peak, an infallible stretch in his career where everything he touches turns to gold. Very few stars can string together a collection of critically acclaimed movies without having a dud interrupt the flow of greatness. But it has been done.

The rules are simple: In an actor's peak run, each consecutive feature film has to rank at above 80 percent on Rotten Tomatoes and has to have been in wide release. To qualify as a streak, there has to be at least four movies in a row that meet that specification. It's more rare than it sounds. For example, Russell Crowe's 1997-2003 stretch that included L.A. Confidential, The Insider, Gladiator, A Beautiful Mind, and Master and Commander is superb, but ultimately undone by disqualifiers like 1999's Mystery, Alaska and 2000's Proof of Life.

So, we'll present you with the streaks; you decide on the best of the best.
Dustin Hoffman, 1973-1985
The Streak: Papillon, Lenny, All the President's Men, Marathon Man, Straight Time, Kramer vs. Kramer, Agatha, Tootsie, Death of a Salesman
The Streak-Breaker: Ishtar

Al Pacino, 1972-1975
The Streak: The Godfather, Serpico, Scarecrow, The Godfather Part II, Dog Day Afternoon
The Streak-Breaker: Bobby Deerfield
Tom Hanks, 1998-2002
The Streak: Saving Private Ryan, Toy Story 2, Cast Away, Road to Perdition, Catch Me If You Can
Steak-Breaker: The Terminal
Jack Nicholson, 1980-1985
The Streak: The Shining, Reds, The Postman Always Rings Twice, Terms of Endearment, Prizzi's Honor
The Streak-Breaker: Heartburn
Marlon Brando, 1972-1979
The Streak: The Godfather, Last Tango in Paris, The Missouri Breaks, Superman, Apocalypse Now
The Streak-Breaker: The Formula
Daniel Day-Lewis, 1988-1993
The Streak: The Unbearable Lightness of Being, My Left Foot, The Last of the Mohicans, In the Name of the Father, The Age of Innocence
The Streak-Breaker: The Crucible
Meryl Streep, 1978-1981
The Streak: The Deer Hunter, Kramer vs. Kramer, Manhattan, The French Lieutenant's Woman
The Streak Breaker: Still of the Night
Paul Newman, 1980-1984
The Streak: Slap Shot, Fort Apache the Bronx, Absence of Malice, The Verdict
The Streak-Breaker: Harry & Son

Eddie Murphy, 1982-1984
The Streak: 48 HRS, Trading Places, Delirious, Beverly Hills Cop
The Streak-Breaker: The Golden Child
Ben Kingsley, 1991-1995
The Streak: Bugsy, Sneakers, Searching for Bobby Fischer, Schindler's List, Dave, Death and Maiden
The Streak-Breaker: Species
Audrey Hepburn, 1961-1964
The Streak: Breakfast at Tiffany's, The Children's Hour, Charade, My Fair Lady
The Streak-Breaker: Paris When It Sizzles
Philip Seymour Hoffman, 1996-1998 & 1999-2000
The Streak: Hard Eight, Boogie Nights, Happiness, The Big Lebowski
The Streak-Breaker: Next Stop Wonderland
The Second Streak: Talented Mr. Ripley, Magnolia, State and Main, Almost Famous
The Second Streak-Breaker: The Party's Over
Poll: Which actor has had the most impressive streak of great films in succession?
Click to vote:
  • Dustin Hoffman
  • Al Pacino
  • Audrey Hepburn
  • Philip Seymour Hoffman
  • Tom Hanks
  • Jack Nicholson
  • Marlon Brando
  • Daniel Day-Lewis
  • Meryl Streep
  • Paul Newman
  • Eddie Murphy
  • Ben Kingsley
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