Great Performances

The weeks between the Golden Globes and Oscar night are filled with awards. But statues or no, these actors are winners

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Eastwood, for one, is grateful. "There are just not that many actresses her age with the right combination of discipline and experience for Maggie." But that's all right. There is at least this one. And we're firmly in her corner. --By Richard Schickel

Thomas Haden Church | Sideways

Maybe he could play Lear or Hamlet, but there's no need for Thomas Haden Church to try when he can so fully inhabit likable doofuses. Could Laurence Olivier have played Jack Lopate, the ex--TV star who goes on a weeklong wine-tasting toot with his pal Miles (Paul Giamatti) in the widely laureled comedy Sideways? For that matter, could Jack find a more engaging explicator than the genial Texan who plays him?

It helps that Church, 43, who commutes from his Kerrville, Texas, ranch to Hollywood, was Jack, sort of. He won TV fame as the mechanic Lowell on Wings, then as the male half of Ned and Stacey before fading out of sight, though not out of sound. "Jack does voice-over work," he says in his leathery baritone, "which I have done off and on for 20 years, which can provide you with a handsome living. In Jack's driveway you will see only late-model luxury vehicles. He has his own confidence, financial and otherwise."

But some things mean more than a fat paycheck. Like a happy kid who has never learned how to play it cool, Church loves--luuuuvs--the acclaim he has received as Jack. "All these years after I moved to L.A.--it's wonderful!"

You've earned all that wonder, Jack. Sorry ... Thomas. --R.C. Reported by Desa Philadelphia/ Los Angeles

Javier Bardem | The Sea Inside

Javier Bardem likes being invisible. "It's great to be able to walk around without people watching you," he says.Then he can be the studious voyeur, not the "voy??." He thinks the ability to observe unnoticed is crucial to the actor's craft. "My work is based on people's behaviors: to sit down and see people--how they walk, how they talk, how they scream, how they cry."

He can study the species in Manhattan, which he visited earlier this month, but not in Spain, where he is one of his homeland's most admired, recognized and, apparently, fondled stars. "Spain is a very impulsive country," he says. "It's not only about looking. It's about touching, grabbing, hugging. It's exhausting. And you are not allowed to watch anyone else's behavior because they are watching you. And then you don't learn anymore."

Bardem's anonymity in the U.S. may not last much longer. A Golden Globe and Oscar nominee four years ago for his role as the poet Reinaldo Arenas in Before Night Falls, he has topped himself with his fierce, tender, near heroic portrayal of Ram??n Sampedro, the quadriplegic who fought the Spanish government for the right to end his life, in Alejandro Amen??bar's The Sea Inside. Like the real Sampedro, whose quest made him a Spanish saint and celebrity, Bardem mixes sweetness and humor with an implacable resolve to die.

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