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February 20, 2008

Acting you can see

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We wouldn't expect this to start any kind of "official backlash," and even if it did, it's far too late. Daniel Day-Lewis has the Oscar for best actor all sewn up.

But Salon's Stephanie Zacharek has a fascinating dissection today of his driven-to-the-brink oil man in "There Will Be Blood," and she sees more than a little Bill the Butcher in it. Both performances are "stuffed with exaggerated mannerisms and gimmickry." What she also finds: stolen locution (maybe borrowed would be the more appropriate term) from the legendary man's man John Huston.

The problem with that, Zacharek says, is that once the viewer figures out the actor's "choice," it fails to be transparent. In other words, his craft is showing.

"His performance is wrought, not felt: It shows the grit of discipline and forethought but lacks spontaneity, fire, life."

Not the first time anyone's brought up this argument about Day-Lewis' interpretation of the Daniel Plainview character. Zacharek contrasts this with roles he played in movies as diverse as "My Beautiful Launderette," "My Left Foot," and "In the Name of the Father," that could serve as shining examples of the Method acting mantra: you must love the part in yourself, not love yourself in the part.

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Oscar Contenders

  • So "The Dark Knight" didn't make it into the final five after all, never mind that critical and popular support. Let's just call the comic-inspired mega-hit "The Biggest Snubee."

    Here are the best picture contenders in a race that, two weeks away from the Oscars, seems to be a foregone conclusion ("Slumdog") unless there's a come-from-behind possibility ("The Reader" anyone?)

    "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button," with Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett; the politically timely "Milk;" rags-to-riches fairy tale, "Slumdog Millionaire," Holocaust best-seller-based drama "The Reader," and Watergate-era biopic "Frost/Nixon."

    Could "Button" and "Slumdog" split the vote, allowing another film to take the prize? Doesn't seem likely. After having clung to "Button" for months as what we thought would be the Academy voters' top vhoice, our money's now on "Slumdog." Momentum can't be ignored.

    Watch this blog for updates, ephemera and all manner of postulating.

Picture this

  • Mmmmm, chocolate Oscar. Not every star will walk away from the 81st annual Academy Awards with a trophy, but if they hit the high-profile Governor's Ball they can have pastry chef Sherry Yard's gold-dusted candy version. Also on the menu from celeb chef Wolfgang Puck is tuna tartare in sesame miso cones, chopped Chino Farms vegetable salad with ginger soy vinaigrette, Maine lobster and caviar. Serve it up! (Getty Images)

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