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Listen Up Philip

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Ballad of Narayama

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Best and Worst Oscar Actors

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Ernest Borgnine ("Marty"), Oscar-winner for Best Actor, 1955.

Edward Copeland announces the results of his third annual Oscar survey, this year devoted to the best and worst choices for Best Actor, 1927 - 2006. Survey participants chose Marlon Brando, Jack Nicholson, Robert De Niro, Anthony Hopkins, Tom Hanks and Jeremy Irons among the best best actors, but guess for which films? Worst best actors included Dustin Hoffman, Russell Crowe, Jack Nicholson, Tom Hanks and Denzel Washington.

My own choices are below, after the jump...

Best

1) Robert Duvall, "Tender Mercies" 2) Ernest Borgnine, "Marty" 3) Marlon Brando, "The Godfather" 4) Jack Nicholson, "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" 5) Clark Gable, "It Happened One Night"

Maybe Brando and Nicholson do overact a little, but their characters are both born performers. You feel you're seeing the essence of these men -- not just Brando and Nicholson, but Vito Corleone and R.P. McMurphy.

Worst

1) Roberto Benigni, "Life is Beautiful" Not just because the movie itself is a despicable act of Holocaust denial. But that helps.

2) Sean Penn, "Mystic River" The least nuanced actor on the planet (yes, Rob Schneider exhibits greater subtlety) never met a moment he couldn't overplay. And still his characterizations are hollow or opaque.

3) Al Pacino, "Scent of a Woman" We saw, we noticed, we gave him an Oscar -- for those other movies. Nobody even remembers this one. And (like "Gandhi") nobody watches it.

4) Laurence Olivier, "Hamlet" "The story... of a man... who could not... make up... his mind." Shallow interpretation of the play and the character. They say he was great onstage. This film is only one notch above his hilarious rabbi in Neil Diamond's "The Jazz Singer."

5) Dustin Hoffman, "Rain Man" Stunt acting at its showiest. It's great when he jumps the fountains in front of Caesar's Palace, though. Oh, wait. That was Evel Kneivel.

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