15 Greatest Movie Actors in Leading Roles, 2000-2020: No.6 - No.10

No. 6 to No. 10 in the PEP List: 15 Greatest Movie Actors from 2000 - 2020.

Presenting No. 6 to No. 10 of THE 15 GREATEST MOVIE ACTORS IN LEADING ROLES, 2000-2020: Dingdong Dantes, Robin Padilla, Piolo Pascual, Coco Martin, Richard Gomez.

This is the Philippine Entertainment Portal's list, and to come up with the Top 15, we set the following parameters: We would stick to the actors' body of work in film. We would therefore not be considering their teleseryes and stage appearances, no matter how prominent. They would have to leave their mark in movies.

The years covered straddle 2000 to 2010 and 2011-2020. During these two decades, the actors' assignments would have to be as leading men—preferably in mainstream films. Their supporting roles would not carry weight.

In other words, someone may be able to cite actors who did spectacular work in particular films compared to some actors ranked higher than they are. But, the number of assignments can even out that edge. That is, if one actor has 10 movies in which to shine through the two decades, then he has a bigger chance of moving up the rankings than another actor who shines in three leading roles in three movies over the same period.

Or, some actors may have done significant, unforgettable work outside the period of 2000-2020. With their work, they may even have earned the tag of modern-day icons. But if these roles occurred in films that came before 2000, they would not be considered. Conceivably, a younger actor with fewer unforgettable roles may rank higher largely because these limited unforgettable roles happened within the period set by the parameters of this list.

The PEP.ph team, made up of 11 members, voted on the final 15.

A list of the greatest actors will, of course, be a matter of taste. There is no exact science to this—and, quite honestly, it is probably better for the craft of acting that there is none.

All the same, it matters that taste be informed by reason, and even by data. Unexplained personal likes and dislikes must give way to informed opinion, facts and figures, insights, and intuitive judgment. To get to the point where the team could have the confidence of its choices, all 11 team members were enjoined to review the actors' performances where and when they could over the next five months, starting November 2020.

In the meantime, through five major Zoom meetings that ended in early April 2021, we challenged each other's choices with discussions and demands for explanations and even a show of examples. We also encouraged a further review, via various streaming apps, of the films where the actors appear. Admittedly, the ensuing exchange of ideas often became impassioned.

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To understand the process, CLICK THIS.

But in the end, the 11 team members came together and voted. This is the PEP LIST of five of the 15 GREATEST MOVIE ACTORS IN LEADING ROLES, 2000-2020.


Richard Gomez, 15 Greatest Movie Actors in Leading Roles

RICHARD GOMEZ’s SCREEN presence has not diminished even if he hasn’t been as active in movies as he is in politics since the year 2000.

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But in his rare appearances, malaking bagay na maganda ang rehistro niya sa camera.

He really is a good-looking man even on the big screen where all flaws are magnified. He hogs the screen, too—as Albert in Minsan Minahal Kita (2000), as Ryan in Ikaw Lamang, Hanggang Ngayon (2002), as Vince in The Love Affair (2015).

He mesmerizes even in a father role in She’s Dating The Gangster (2014). I actually applauded his bickering scenes with Daniel Padilla, who played Richard’s son in the movie.

To me, Richard is the ultimate leading man, with the stamp of his own brand of serious acting, not to mention his distinct voice.

He was self-righteous in Filipinas (2002), intense in Bente (2009), evil in The Janitor (2014), and unsparing in The Trial (2014).

In the various roles he portrays for real—as husband, dad, athlete, public servant— Richard makes his presence count in admirable ways. But, good for his audience, the fellow will always be a movie star.

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Richard Gomez, 15 Greatest Movie Actors in Leading Roles

THROUGH ALL THIS time, Richard Gomez has proven himself the personification of a leading man, kahit ilang taon na ang lumipas at nag-uumpisa nang pumuti ang buhok nito.

Lutang na lutang sa screen ang taglay na karisma ni Richard kahit halos 50 anyos na siya noon.

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Patunay rito ang The Love Affair (2015), na pinagbidahan niya kasama sina Bea Alonzo at Dawn Zulueta.

Mataas ang kalibre ni Richard pagdating sa aktingan.

Patunay dito ang ginampanan niyang role as Samuel Filipinas sa 2003 family drama, Filipinas.

Compelling ang pagganap ni Richard ng isang single father na kumayod sa Amerika para buhayin at palakihin ang tatlong anak. Matagumpay ang career at nakaaangat sa buhay si Samuel—iyan ang nakikita ng mga tao sa paligid.

Hindi nila alam ang hirap na pinagdaanan ni Samuel bilang isang single father sa isang malayong lugar, na naging dahilan ng unti-unting pagtigas ng kanyang puso.

His need to survive then becomes more dominant than his need to give and receive compassion.

Epektibong naisabuhay ni Richard ang papel ng isang ama, kapatid, at anak na may kimkim na bigat ng loob.

Very convincing ang pag-portray niya ng karakter na masaya at matagumpay sa harap ng ibang tao, pero may itinatagong kadiliman.

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Ang role na ito ay nagbigay kay Richard ng acting nomination (FAMAS) at acting award (Metro Manila Film Fest People’s Choice Award for Best Actor).


Coco Martin, 15 Greatest Actors in Leading Roles

NAGBABAGONG ANYO SI Coco Martin sa bawa’t role na ginagampanan. Isinasapuso niya ang papel na kanyang pino-portray. Hindi siya isang artistang umaarte, kundi ang karakter na kanyang ginagampanan.

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Gaya ng ipinamalas niya sa pelikulang Sta. Nina (2012) bilang si Pol, isang amang nakita ang kabaong ng bangkay ng kanyang dalawang-anyos na anak, sampung taon mula nang pumanaw ito.

Paniniwala ni Pol, may malalim na dahilan kung bakit niya natagpuan ang anak sa panahong iyon at hindi ito nagkataon lamang.

Pinaniwalaan niyang milagroso ang katawan ng bata, na hindi naagnas at nakapagpapagaling ng taong may sakit.

Nabigyang hustisya ni Coco ang papel ng isang amang naghahanap ng redemption sa mga pagkukulang niya noon.

Naisabuhay ng aktor ang papel ng isang mahirap na woodcarver na naghahanap ng salvation mula sa isang masalimuot na nakaraan.

Kayang umarte ni Coco nang hindi nagbibitaw ng linya. Malinaw niyang naipapahiwatig ang emosyon sa pamamagitan ng kanyang mukha.

Strength rin ni Coco bilang actor ang pagganap sa karakter na masa.

Coco Martin 15 Greatest Actors in Leading Roles

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COCO MARTIN IS a star who first gained recognition through the early works of director Brillante Mendoza. Their first project together was Mendoza’s 2005 debut film, Masahista, where Coco's character, to make ends meet, gives massages to gay men.

Coco gave the role the commitment it required.

When the story called for him to sit naked on top of a man and engage in a gay love scene, he did so—with nary a quibble nor a thought about what people might make of it.

Still, Coco managed to balance this intense, even dark, role with a kind of sweetness and a sadness that endeared him to his audience and gave Masahista its saving grace.

Through his eyes alone, Coco managed to gain the sympathy of viewers, and have them suspend their judgment of his profession besides.

In his two succeeding films with Mendoza, Serbis (2007) and Kinatay (2009), Coco found himself hobnobbing with world-renowned filmmakers at the prestigious Cannes Film Festival.

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Both films competed and gained international recognition, and participating in the prestigious festival will always be a milestone for Coco that his contemporaries may never get to check in their own bucket list.

It was around this time that Coco began his initiation into celebrity and mainstream showbiz. Mainly, his transformation happened in the world of television, where he started being seen by a nationwide audience as a contrary character in some prime-time drama series of ABS-CBN.

Coco gained even more traction in showbiz after starring in the fantasy series Juan Dela Cruz, which reinvented Coco as a family-friendly star and an idol to kids.

Then, as Cardo Dalisay in the long-running series, FPJ’s Ang Probinsyano, Coco cemented his reputation as an A-list star.

Coco has since embraced this role, and seems to have focused on making family-friendly movies, as shown by his recent films—a collection of kilig romantic comedies, feel-good family stories, and action-filled adventures.

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He was goofy and animated in the movies Beauty and the Bestie (2015) and The Super Parental Guardians (2016).

Then he brought action—already his TV niche via FPJ's Ang Probinsyano—back to the big screen with Ang Panday (2017), also an FPJ trademark; Jack Em Popoy: The Puliscredibles (2018); and 3pol Trobol: Huli Ka Balbon! (2019).

Although he is a bonafide celebrity today, whose current movies may not be as thought-provoking as his early projects, Coco remains an actor highly committed to his craft.

At least that's the only explanation outsiders can give about his behavior in Ang Probinsyano. it is widely known in the industry that he becomes so engaged, he sometimes takes over the writing and the directing, not to mention continuing to play the lead role.


Robin Padilla, 15 Greatest Movie Actors in Leading Roles

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KILALANG ACTION STAR si Robin Padilla, pero sa pagpasok ng 2000 ay hindi lang sa mga pelikulang aksyon sumabak ang aktor.

Naipamalas rin ni Binoe (ang palayaw ni Robin) ang husay niya bilang aktor sa iba't ibang proyekto—mula sa action-comedy na Tunay Na Tunay: Gets Mo? Gets Ko? (2000), sa action-romance na Kailangan Ko'y Ikaw (2000), at hanggang sa action-horror-thriller na Kulimlim (2004).

Kahanga-hanga rin ang kanyang full-comedy movie, ang La Visa Loca (2005), na nagpanalo kay Binoe ng tatlong acting awards (FAMAS, Urian, Golden Screen).

Nagkaroon siya ng ilang nominasyon para rin sa kanyang pagganap sa mga pelikulang Blackout (2006), 10,000 Hours (2013), Bonifacio: Ang Unang Pangulo (2014), at Unexpectedly Yours (2017).

Tapos na ang mga panahong hanggang sa pelikulang aksyon lang hinahangaan si Robin.

Sa rami ng personal na dramang pinagdaanan niya sa tunay na buhay, marami siyang panghuhugutan ng inspirasyon para sa kahit na anong role na magawi sa kaniya.

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Robin Padilla, 15 Greatest Movie Actors in Leading Roles

DAHIL SA KANYANG malakas na personalidad, na dala-dala niya sa publiko, kadalasan ay natatabunan ang husay ni Robin Padilla bilang aktor.

Ngunit hindi pa rin mapapasubalian ang kanyang talento na kitang-kita sa ilang pelikulang pinagbidahan niya.

Nitong nakalipas na dalawang dekada ay nagawang balansehin ni Robin ang paggawa ng action, comedy, romantic-comedy, at maging ng horror films.

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Mahaba ang listahan ng mga pelikula ni Robin kung saan naipamalas nito ang kanyang versatility.

Sa Kailangan Ko’y Ikaw (2000, idinirek ni Joyce Bernal), bilang mekanino na na-in love sa isang sikat na singer.

Sa Videoke King (2002, idinirek ni Jerry Lopez Sineneng), bilang engaged man na na-in love sa pinsan ng kanyang fiancée.

Sa Kulimlim (2004, idinirek ni Maryo J. de los Reyes), bilang lalaking sinaniban ng mga kaluluwa ng tatlong ex-convicts na nang-rape sa kanyang asawa.

Sa La Visa Loca (2005, idinirek ni Mark Meily), bilang taxi driver na nangangarap makapunta ng Amerika.

Sa Till I Met You (2006, idinirek ni Mark Reyes), bilang right-hand man na na-in love sa mapapangasawa ng kanyang among haciendero.

Sa Sundo (2009, idinirek ni Topel Lee), bilang retiradong militar na may supernatural gifts.

Kinakitaan din ng husay sa pagganap si Robin sa 10,000 Hours (2013, idinirek ni Joyce Bernal), bilang senador na kinailangang tumakas sa mga tumutugis sa kanya; Bonifacio: Ang Unang Pangulo (2014, idinirek ni Enzo Williams), bilang title character ng historical film; at sa animated movie na Hayop Ka! (2020, idinirek ni Avid Liongoren), bilang boses ng maskuladong janitor na si Roger.

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Piolo Pascual, 15 Greatest Movie Actors in Leading Roles

Adept at various acting genres, Piolo Pascual has long proven himself as an actor to be reckoned with on television and in movies.

He was just starting his career when he landed the lead role in the Mel Chionglo film Lagarista (2000) as Gregory, a young man who delivers film reels from one movie theater to another on a bicycle.

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Piolo hit the grand slam in Lualhati Bautista’s Dekada ‘70 (2002), a project from which he tried to back out three times because he felt he was not ready to star alongside veteran actors Vilma Santos and Christopher de Leon.

Dekada ’70 turned out to be the film that would deliver Piolo to the same room as the actors he revered, after he reaped 10 acting awards from different award-giving bodies for his role as Jules Bartolome, an activist physically and mentally tortured during martial law.

Not one to get stuck in roles and labels, Piolo, who has been hailed the “Ultimate Heartthrob,” also proved himself a fine actor in romantic dramas.

He showed a quiet intensity and left audiences in tears as Lino in Olivia Lamasan’s Milan (2004), opposite Claudine Barretto.

As Marco Antonio Villanueva III in Starting Over Again (2014), another Olivia Lamasan masterpiece, Piolo did not just deliver the line, "I deserve an explanation! I need an acceptable reason!" He made the audience feel his desperation.

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In moving to still another level of commitment to his art, Piolo immersed himself in the offbeat role of NBI Agent Francis Coronel in Erik Matti’s On The Job (2013), and gave powerful performances in Lav Diaz’s Hele sa Hiwagang Hapis (2016) and Ang Panahon ng Halimaw (2018).

Piolo Pascual, 15 Greatest Movie Actors in Leading Roles

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Sa henerasyon ko, namulat ako sa sigaw na “I love you, Piolo” sa isang commercial. Dun tumatak sa aking isipan ang pangalan ng aktor.

Pero, hindi pala siya just a pretty face. Marunong kumanta, umarte, at mag-host si Piolo.

Una kong hinangaan si Piolo sa pelikulang Lagarista (2000), kasama ni Janna Victoria.

Noong mga panahong yun, sa Crown Seven Ventures (producer ng movie) pa ako nagtatrabaho. Sa trabaho ko, nakakasilip ako ng mga stills o mga paisa-isang eksena mula sa shooting. Raw scenes, kumbaga.

Ang mga boys sa office, si Jana ang kinasasabikan, habang ako ay walang iba kundi ang aktor.

Umalagwa ang kasikatan ni Piolo nung nagtambal sila ni Judy Ann Santos sa Kahit Isang Saglit noong taon ding yun.

Nasundan pa ito ng Bakit ‘Di Totohanin noong 2001, ‘Till There Was You noong 2003, at Don’t Give Up on Us noong 2006.

Pero nagkaroon ng problema sa pagitan ng dalawang stars kaya hindi na muli sila nagsama sa iisang proyekto. Sabi ng iba, si Judy Ann ang nanghila kay Piolo sa pagiging sought-after leading man at, siguro nga, sa pagiging isa sa highest-paid movie stars.

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Ngunit sa mga sumunod na taon, napatunayan ni Piolo na may sarili siyang kakayanan. Nakatayo siya bilang aktor kahit wala na silang tambalan ni Judy Ann.

Kabilang na rito ang isa sa kinakiligan ko at iniyakang pelikula niya, ang The Breakup Playlist, noong 2015, kasama si Sarah Geronimo. Grabe lang ang tambalan nilang dalawa, may kilig pa rin kahit may agwat ang kanilang mga edad.

At kumita ito, ha, kahit walang loveteam formula ang dalawa.


Dingdong Dantes, 15 Greatest Movie Actors in Leading Roles

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OVER TIME, I have come to know two types of lead actors: (1) those who can make viewers fall in love with their characters; and (2) those who can make viewers remember the characters, not the actors.

And based on his movies I’ve seen so far, I place Dingdong Dantes in the second category.

Watching him lose himself in the roles he plays, I forget he’s umaarte.

He was the nerdy Johnson in Kimmy Dora: Kambal sa Kiyeme (2009), amorously eyeing the sweet but dimwitted Dora, played by lead star Eugene Domingo.

He could be “sungit”—remember Raphael in You To Me Are Everything (2010)?

Or thoroughly siga-siga in Tiktik: The Aswang Chronicles (2012), and downright troubled in Sid & Aya: Not a Love Story (2018).

In Magkapatid (2002)—alongside a formidable cast that included Sharon Cuneta, Christopher de Leon, and Judy Ann Santos—Dingdong, the new kid on the block, held his own.

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His short scene with Judy Ann made me sit up. Nakakaarte pala si Iñaki (his role in the TV youth-oriented show T.G.I.S.)!

I knew then that he had the making of a leading man and a lead actor.

What I find remarkable about his acting is that he’s never over-the-top.

Dingdong disciplines himself and puts in just the right intensity in his character. He doesn’t have to shout nor does he have to deliver voluminous lines to leave a mark.

He has an impressive solo moment in Seven Sundays (2017). His character Bryan Bonifacio finally brings out his grievances against his brothers Aga Muhlach and Enrique Gil, and his acting is superb. Galing ng bitaw ng linya. Ganda ng build-up ng emotions.

“Why are you taking it against me na may narrating ako sa buhay? Why, is it my fault na, unlike you and Kuya, I chose to stay and study? Is it my fault that I worked hard para sa kung anong meron ako? Is it my fault that I have the means to help you? Do you even know what I went through? What I had to give up just to help you? Hindi. Hindi, di ba? Dahil wala naman ni isa sa inyo ang nagtanong sa akin kung okay ako.”

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Dingdong can totally own a character, and I hope that in his upcoming projects he can own an entire film.

Think of Tom Hanks in Castaway or Matt Damon in Martian. Heck, he can even do Magic Mike.

Dingdong Dantes, 15 Greatest Movie Actors in Leading Roles

STANDOUT ANG DRAMATIC monologue ni Dingdong Dantes sa pelikulang Seven Sundays.

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Pangalawa siya sa apat na magkakapatid, na ginampanan nina Aga Muhlach, Cristine Reyes, at Enrique Gil. Ang ama nila ay si Ronaldo Valdez.

Angat ang galing sa pag-arte ng ensemble cast.

Self-confident, authoritative, at financially successful ang role ni Dingdong na si Bryan. Seemingly effortless itong na-pull off ni Dingdong. Kung maka-asta, sobrang tiwala sa sarili bilang isang self-made man.

Bumagay pa ang kanyang good looks at matikas na tindig sa angas ng kanyang karakter.

Nabigyan ng singular moment to shine si Dingdong nang ipaliwanag ni Bryan sa mga kapatid na kinailangan niyang maging matibay at sarilinin ang lahat dahil iyon ang kinailangan ng pamilya nila.

Hindi raw siya nagreklamo dahil gusto niyang maging mabuting anak, kahit pa ang kapalit ay hindi niya napanindigan ang pagiging ama sa love child niya noon.

Kaya ganoon na lang daw kasakit nang husgahan ang kanyang mga tagumpay sa buhay at siya pa ang masama kapag gusto niyang mag-abot ng tulong sa pamilya.

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May nakakaantig na twist sa character ni Dingdong bilang isang misunderstood sibling, na ayaw maging pabigat pero longing for the love and attention of his family.

Speechless ang ibang characters matapos ng monologue na ito ni Bryan/Dingdong; speechless din ang audience.

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No. 6 to No. 10 in the PEP LIST OF THE 15 GREATEST ACTORS IN LEADING ROLES, 2000-2020: Richard Gomez, Coco Martin, Robin Padilla, Piolo Pascual, Dingdong Dantes.
PHOTO/S: Cyrus Panganiban, Raymund Isaac, PR Photo
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