Tuesday, Dec. 08, 2009

2. Jeremy Renner as Staff Sergeant William James in The Hurt Locker

He's been assigned to head a bomb-defusing squad in Baghdad, c. 2005, and his new mates, whose last leader got blown to bits, don't care at all for James's go-it-alone style. But they can't help be awed by his bravado. Before checking one car suspected of being loaded with IEDs, he removes his protective hazmat suit, saying, "If I'm gonna die, I'm gonna be comfortable." Renner, who took supporting roles in North Country, 28 Weeks Later and The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, and co-starred in the recent ABC series The Unusuals, isn't the standard, steel-jawed action-movie hero; he has the soft, unremarkable features of any good ol' boy. That's the surprise of superior acting, for Renner gives his character the cool aplomb and attention to detail of a great athlete, or a master psychopath, maybe both. Like James, Renner is the right man for a tough job.