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The Essentials: The 5 Best Gary Oldman Performances

  • By The Playlist Staff
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  • December 8, 2011 1:02 PM
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  • 21 Comments
It's been a frequently repeated fact this year, but in case you didn't know, Gary Oldman has never been nominated for an Oscar. But in a way, why should he have been? The Academy Awards specialize, for the most part, in celebrating showy, look-at-me performances, impersonations of real people, or tear-jerking portrayals of crippling disease or disability. And Oldman has never been one of those actors. Oh, sure, he's capable of playing big and attention-grabbing -- "Bram Stoker's Dracula," say, or one of his villainous turns in the 1990s -- but even in the least of those films, he's always totally disappeared into the character with no sign of the man behind the curtain, no visible effort in the acting to be applauded. 

The Essentials: The 5 Best Tilda Swinton Performances

  • By Oliver Lyttelton
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  • December 7, 2011 12:59 PM
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  • 4 Comments
Tilda Swinton is a pretty unconventional kind of movie star. The daughter of a Scottish Major-General, and one-time classmate of Princess Diana, she got her start in acting in experimental theater and the Royal Shakespeare Company, before going on to become a muse of British iconoclast Derek Jarman. Over time, she's featured in performance art (including sleeping in a glass box in the Serpentine Gallery in London for a week), worked with fashion designers, founded a traveling film festival in the Scottish Highlands, and even appeared on an album by pop eccentric Patrick Wolf. She's even become tabloid fodder in recent years, thanks to her unusual home life; she's married to painter John Byrne, but simultaneously maintains a relationship with a German artist named Sandro Kopp. Not exactly Julia Roberts, right?

The Essentials: The 5 Best Marilyn Monroe Performances

  • By The Playlist Staff
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  • November 21, 2011 1:22 PM
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  • 54 Comments
Close to fifty years after to her premature passing at the age of 36, there are few stars, living or dead, who have the same effect that Marilyn Monroe continues to have. An icon the likes of which the starlets of today simply can't compete with, her legacy continues to loom large, despite a relatively brief time on top (less than fifteen years passed between her first speaking role and her final picture, "The Misfits") and aided in no small part by her tumultuous personal life -- three troubled marriages, including to playwright Arthur Miller and baseball legend Joe Di Maggio, and reported affairs with both President John F. Kennedy and his brother Bobby.

The Essentials: The Five Best George Clooney Performances

  • By Oliver Lyttelton
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  • November 17, 2011 1:44 PM
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  • 14 Comments
When you're as offhandedly handsome as George Clooney, you could breeze through your career, doing easy, big-budget stuff that probably takes as much concentration and actorly skill as one of those Japanese soda commercials that movie stars used to sneak off and do over a long weekend. Instead, this star, who broke out two decades ago in the TV hospital drama smash "E.R," seems to constantly challenge himself, as both an actor and a director, repeatedly engaging with the kind of risky material that other actors (much less movie stars with his kind of planetary clout) might shy away from. Clooney frequently goes out on a limb, most often partnering with creative powerhouses like Steven Soderbergh, The Coens and Wes Anderson on projects that might not get the green light without his involvement. So, yes, he’s already a megastar, and we suspect he always will be, but while that level of stardom can and has led to increasing conservatism in the career choices of some other big names we could mention, Clooney's going in the opposite direction. As he recently told Rolling Stone, about his latest and excellent directorial effort “The Ides of March,” “It’s not designed for everybody to see, but I don’t give a shit. I don’t need to be more famous and we shot it for $12 million, so anything we do is nice.”

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