Acting Up!

Performances worth cherishing — and all mysteriously connected

Millennium Entertainment / Everett

Meryl as Maggie

1. Meryl Streep in The Iron Lady

Her performance as British PM Margaret Thatcher is a miracle of character infiltration, and should earn Streep her first Oscar in 29 years.

STERN AUTHORITY FIGURE

Brad as a dictatorial dad

1. Brad Pitt in The Tree of Life

The perennial hunk proved his range with daring, delicate work as Tree of Life's tough father (and as the baseball man--pure star quality--in Moneyball).

JESSICA CHASTAIN

2. The Cast of The Help

An ensemble Oscar, please, for the stars of this lofty weepie: Viola Davis, Octavia Spencer, Bryce Dallas Howard, Tree of...

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