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Oscar Watch: The Pitt Debate

Photo of Anne Thompson By Anne Thompson | Thompson on Hollywood January 11, 2009 at 3:57AM

Some see Pitt's performance in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button as a transformative role of a lifetime, while others see it as a mix of Pitt and genius visual effects. The question is, how did the Academy actors who will nominate the top five actors of the year see it? At various Golden Globes parties over the weekend, I heard both sides of the argument. Did Paramount, which has done a yeoman job of getting the movie open and turning it into a hit, reveal too much of the process? And how do Academy voters feel about the animation involved in Pitt's performance?
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Curiousbenbutton2Some see Pitt's performance in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button as a transformative role of a lifetime, while others see it as a mix of Pitt and genius visual effects. The question is, how did the Academy actors who will nominate the top five actors of the year see it? At various Golden Globes parties over the weekend, I heard both sides of the argument. Did Paramount, which has done a yeoman job of getting the movie open and turning it into a hit, reveal too much of the process? And how do Academy voters feel about the animation involved in Pitt's performance?

Here's a bit of Michael Phillips' review in The Chicago Tribune:

When we see him in flashback, as a bald, wheelchair-bound codger in miniature, we recognize Pitt, but it's not really Pitt. It's an animated Gollum-y version of the actor we know.

Pitt talks about his conventional makeup here:

And reveals more of the process to CBS's Katie Couric:

Clearly, Pitt was still acting, throughout. But Academy members can be a bit stodgy about these things.

[Originally appeared on Variety.com]

This article is related to: Headliners, Awards, Oscars, Brad Pitt


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Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.