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MONEYBALL THE TREE OF LIFE
Among the advantages of being Brad Pitt is the power of saying yes. The Tree of Life might not have been made if he hadn't invested his clout by signing on. Moneyball he simply willed into existence as its producer and star. But don't ask him about baseball statistics. "Hell, no," he says. "I'm an actor, for God's sake."
From nowhere that's where Hollywood thinks France is came The Artist, Michel Hazanavicius' endearing tribute to silent movies, and its trs charmant star. The ex cabaret comic loved making the film "because no lines, no sound, no pressure it was like a playground." Figure The Artist to be the big player on Oscar night.
No performer of the past year could equal his work in comedy, tearjerker and action scenes, not to mention licking his master's nose and playing dead. This Jack Russell terrier may have been ineligible for an Oscar, but at Cannes he won the Palm Dog.
MY WEEK WITH MARILYN
Quite a trip from Dawson's Creek in her teens, through indie triumphs (Wendy and Lucy, Blue Valentine) and then playing Marilyn Monroe. Or rather, burrowing in and inhabiting her: "I hope I'm nowhere to be seen." She's right; only the truth shines through.
A DANGEROUS METHOD SHAME JANE EYRE X-MEN: FIRST CLASS
A youth spent watching Pacino, Brando and De Niro schooled the German-Irish star in an actor's physicality. "Often you can express more through body language than through dialogue," says Fassbender, whose coiled machismo blazed in four major films in 2011.
No wonder she lives so urgently inside Minny, the long-suffering Mississippi maid: novelist Kathryn Stockett modeled Minny's physical aspects on Spencer. Dismissing many roles she's played as "just props," Spencer says her part in The Help "is a wonderful exception."
This two-time Tony winner is cresting as a brilliant actress, even if she thinks acclaim for playing the maid Aibileen won't necessarily land her great parts: "I am still relying on the kindness of strangers to bring my ideas to fruition."
'Even as a kid watching TV, I could distinguish a great performance Cicely Tyson as Miss Jane Pittman, or Meryl Streep in Holocaust from a not-so-great performance.'
After decades playing starchy Germans and Brits, Canada's greatest actor got "a nice loose American part" as the dying gay dad in Beginners. The challenge for him was "to act pathos. Very few people have it naturally Chaplin, Brando. It's a gift. You can't learn it. But you can learn how to fake it." Mission accomplished.
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