Another year of television and film is in the books, which means it’s award season and high time the best and brightest stars of the silver and small screens are honored for their work. This year’s season kicks off with the Screen Actors Guild awards and Playboy.com has decided to play along, offering not only our picks, but yours and those of esteemed in-house film critic, Stephen Rebello. We covered the most outstanding cast and supporting roles; this week, the most outstanding actors and actresses in a lead role.
The Nominees: Actor in a Leading Role
Demián Bichir: Carlos Galindo in A Better Life. "A Better Life goes beyond your standard father and son coming of age film; Bichir's performance as a devoted but firm father to a son struggling to walk his own path in gang driven East L.A. is inspiring. He captures all the complexities of a father doing his best to be a role model but plagued by his own problems as an illegal immigrant just trying to make a living."
George Clooney: Matt King in The Descendants. "It’s a comedy about profound grief in which George Clooney plays a work-driven, distracted, half-white, half-Hawaiian lawyer and the self-described "backup parent” of two young daughters...his frayed, broken performance is absolutely top of the line and he gets perfectly matched by young Shailene Woodley" - Stephen Rebello. Read the full review.
Leonardo DiCaprio: J. Edgar Hoover in J.Edgar. "It’s clear from his first appearance on screen that, as Hoover, Leonardo DiCaprio has come loaded for bear. He's obviously worked hard on the voice, gait, movements, the ‘look’ along with communicating Hoover’s fears, peculiarities, insecurities and crippling social ineptness with expert precision. Although DiCaprio's efforts can sometimes come off as too studied and obvious, he hits his stride in Hoover's extracurricular off-the-job scenes" - Stephen Rebello. Read the full review.
Jean Dujardin: George in The Artist. " Heart-warming, funny, romantic, lovingly nostalgic and acted to elegant, self-aggrandizing and gallant perfection by Dujardin, whose performance won him a Best Actor prize at Cannes, The Artist recreates a movie era so full of wonder and emotion that it may make you question whether the way we were wasn’t a whole lot better than the way we are" -Stephen Rebello. Read the full review.
Brad Pitt: Billy Beane in Moneyball. "Right from the jump, Moneyball gets you feeling—and pulling—for Oakland A’s general manager Billy Beane. As played by Brad Pitt in a lived-in, rumpled, flat-out great performance, Beane is quite a character—an emotionally detached, tobacco-chewing, junk food-guzzling loner, a former golden boy gone to seed." - Stephen Rebello. Read the full review.
The Nominees: Actress in a Leading Role
Glenn Close: Albert Nobbs in Albert Nobbs. "As the pinched, ever-wary, heartbreaking Nobbs, Close gives a tricky, high wire, award-worthy performance yet she commendably resists any temptation to be showy, campy or spectacular in the least. She may not be convincing as a man even for a second but she is so immersed in her odd, improbable character that it’s hard to take your eyes off her" - Stephen Rebello.
Viola Davis: Aibileen Clark in The Help. "The movie is on much firmer ground when the quietly powerful, watchful and intense Davis and the sour, hilarious Spencer mostly take over the movie and expose the painful consequences of the racism that to this day plagues and demeans us. Both actresses are so complex, vivid, award-worthy really, that they not only walk off the movie but also make you wish the rest of The Help cut as deeply as they do." - Stephen Rebello. Read the full review.
Meryl Streep: Margaret Thatcher in The Iron Lady. "Streep can be mannered and overly technical. Here, though, she has it all down; she’s ferocious, relentlessly unapologetic, scarily funny and full of depth and pathos. In a tinny movie with a titanium-clad movie star performance, Streep is titanic" -Stephen Rebello. Read the full review.
Tilda Swinton: Eva in We Need To Talk About Kevin. "Swinton's performance as the mother of a disturbed and ultimately violent child is chilling. Convincing at all stages of this flashback driven adaption of Lionel Shriver's novel, she brings the idea of a mother's intuition alive, building both suspense and suspicion that her instincts, however gruesome, will prove to be right in the end."
Michelle Williams: Marilyn Munroe in My Week With Marilyn. "Taking on the role of America's one-time darling is no easy feet but Michelle Williams performance is masterful. Playful, seductive and and at times subtly taken aback and confused by her fame, Williams portrays a Marilyn totally engrossed in her own world."
And the winner's are...
Readers' Choice: Leonardo DiCaprio, Michelle Williams
Playboy.com's Choice: Demian Bichir, Tilda Swinton
Rebello's Choice: George Clooney, Meryl Streep
Think we got it wrong? Let us know who you think the most deserving men and women are for leading roles in the polls below.