THE BEST PERFORMANCES OF 2012 (in no real particular order)

Oscar-nominated, praised, snubbed, or not--here's my list of the BEST performances of 2012...
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Hugh Jackman
Hugh Michael Jackman is an Australian actor, singer, multi-instrumentalist, dancer and producer. Jackman has won international recognition for his roles in major films, notably as superhero, period, and romance characters. He is best known for his long-running role as Wolverine in the X-Men film series...
“ LES MISERABLES ” - explorer801
Anne Hathaway
Anne Jacqueline Hathaway was born in Brooklyn, New York, to Kate McCauley Hathaway, an actress, and Gerald T. Hathaway, a lawyer, both originally from Philadelphia. She is of mostly Irish descent, along with English, German, and French. Her first major role came in the short-lived television series Get Real...
“ LES MISERABLES ” - explorer801
Daniel Day-Lewis
Day-Lewis is one of the most acclaimed actors of his generation and has earned numerous awards, including three Academy Awards for Best Actor for his performances in My Left Foot (1989), There Will Be Blood (2007) and Lincoln (2012), making him the only male actor in history to have three wins in the lead actor category and one of only three male actors to win three Oscars...
“ LINCOLN ” - explorer801
Sally Field
Actress, Forrest Gump
Sally Margaret Field was born in 1946 in Pasadena, California, to actress Margaret Field (née Morlan) and salesman Richard Dryden Field. Her parents divorced in 1950 and her mother then married stuntman Jock Mahoney, and they had a daughter, Princess O'Mahoney. She also has a brother, Richard Field. Sally attended Birmingham High School in Van Nuys, California...
“ LINCOLN ” - explorer801
Robert De Niro
Actor, Goodfellas
Robert De Niro, thought of as one of the greatest actors of all time, was born in Greenwich Village, Manhattan, New York City, to artists Virginia (Admiral) and Robert De Niro Sr. His paternal grandfather was of Italian descent, and his other ancestry is Irish, German, Dutch, English, and French. He was trained at the Stella Adler Conservatory and the American Workshop...
Bradley Cooper
Cooper garnered consecutive Oscar nominations from 2013 to 2015 for his roles in the romantic comedy Silver Linings Playbook (2012), the comedy-drama American Hustle (2013), and the biographical war drama American Sniper (2014). For producing American Sniper, Cooper also received an Academy Award for Best Picture nomination...
Jennifer Lawrence
Academy Award-winning actress Jennifer Lawrence is best known for playing Katniss Everdeen in The Hunger Games, Tiffany Maxwell in Silver Linings Playbook, and Rosalyn Rosenfeld in American Hustle. Jennifer Shrader Lawrence was born on August 15, 1990 in Louisville, Kentucky, to Karen (Koch), who manages a children's camp...
John Hawkes
John Hawkes was born John Marvin Perkins in Alexandria, Minnesota, to Patricia Jeanne (Olson) and Peter John Perkins, a farmer. He is of British and Scandinavian descent. John moved to Austin, Texas to begin his career as an actor and musician. He co-founded the Big State Productions Theatre Company and appeared in the group's original play...
“ THE SESSIONS ” - explorer801
Helen Hunt
Actress, Mad About You
Helen Hunt began studying acting at the age of eight with her father, respected director and acting coach Gordon Hunt. A year later she made her professional debut and afterwards worked steadily in films, theatre and television.
“ THE SESSIONS ” - explorer801
Alan Arkin
Actor, Argo
Alan Arkin is an Academy Award-winning American actor who is also an acclaimed director, producer, author, singer and composer. He was born Alan Wolf Arkin on March 26, 1934, in Brooklyn, New York. His family were Jewish immigrants from Russia and Germany. In 1946 the Arkins moved from Brooklyn to Los Angeles...
“ ARGO ” - explorer801
Ben Affleck
Producer, Argo
American actor and filmmaker Benjamin Géza Affleck-Boldt was born on August 15, 1972 in Berkeley, California, and was raised in Cambridge, Massachusetts. His mother, Chris Anne (née Boldt), is a school teacher, and his father, Timothy Byers Affleck, is a social worker; the two are divorced. Ben has a younger brother...
“ ARGO ” - explorer801
Maggie Smith
One of the world's most famous and distinguished actresses, Dame Maggie Smith was born Margaret Natalie Smith in Essex. Her Scottish mother, Margaret (Hutton), worked as a secretary, and her English father, Nathaniel Smith, was a teacher at Oxford University. Smith has been married twice: to actor Robert Stephens and to playwright Beverley Cross...
Eddie Redmayne
Eddie Redmayne is an English actor, model and singer. Brought up in Westminster, Redmayne attended Eton College and began his professional acting career as a youth in London theatre before making his screen debut in 1998 with guest appearances on television. He made his feature film debut in 2006 with Like Minds and The Good Shepherd and went on to appear in films such as Savage Grace (2007)...
“ LES MISERABLES ” - explorer801
Samantha Barks
Samantha Barks was born in Laxey, Isle of Man (British Isles) in 1990. She is a British actress best known for the role of Éponine in Les Misérables. In 2008, Samantha competed in I'd Do Anything in which she was one of the finalists in a search for a new, unknown lead to play Nancy in a West End revival of the British musical Oliver!...
“ LES MISERABLES ” - explorer801
Naomi Watts
Actress, King Kong
Naomi Ellen Watts was born on September 28, 1968 in Shoreham, England, to Myfanwy Edwards "Miv" (Roberts), an antiques dealer and costume/set designer, and Peter Watts (Peter Anthony Watts), the road manager to Pink Floyd. Her maternal grandfather was Welsh. Her father died when Naomi was seven and she began to follow her mother and her brother around England...
“ THE IMPOSSIBLE ” - explorer801
Suraj Sharma
Actor, Life of Pi
Suraj was born and raised in New Dehli, India. His mother is an economist and his father is a software engineer. He has a brother and sister who are both younger than he. Was one of 3,000 to audition for the role of Pi in Life of Pi and he attended the audition only because his younger brother asked him to...
“ LIFE OF PI ” - explorer801
Emmanuelle Riva
Actress, Amour
An only child, Emmanuelle was born Paulette Germaine Riva in Cheniménil, but eventually grew up in Remiremont. She is the daughter of Jeanne Fernande (Nourdin), a seamstress, and René Alfred Riva, a sign writer. Her paternal grandfather was Italian. She has dreamed of becoming an actress since she was six...
“ AMOUR ” - explorer801
Christoph Waltz
Christoph Waltz is an Austrian-German actor. He is known for his works with American filmmaker Quentin Tarantino, receiving acclaim for portraying SS-Standartenführer Hans Landa in Inglourious Basterds and bounty hunter Dr. King Schultz in Django Unchained. For each performance, he won an Academy Award, a BAFTA Award...
“ DJANGO UNCHAINED ” - explorer801
Leonardo DiCaprio
Actor, Inception
Few actors in the world have had a career quite as diverse as Leonardo DiCaprio's. DiCaprio has gone from relatively humble beginnings, as a supporting cast member of the sitcom Growing Pains and low budget horror movies, such as Critters 3, to a major teenage heartthrob in the 1990s, as the hunky lead actor in movies such as Romeo + Juliet and Titanic...
“ DJANGO UNCHAINED ” - explorer801
Jamie Foxx
Jamie Foxx is an American actor, singer, and comedian. He won an Academy Award for Best Actor, BAFTA Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role, and Golden Globe Award for Best Actor in a Musical or Comedy, for his work in the 2004 biographical film Ray. The same year, he was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his role in the action film Collateral...
“ DJANGO UNCHAINED ” - explorer801
Tom Holland
Thomas Stanley Holland was born in Kingston-upon-Thames, Surrey, to Nicola Elizabeth (Frost), a photographer, and Dominic Holland (Dominic Anthony Holland), who is a comedian and author. His paternal grandparents were from the Isle of Man and Ireland, respectively. He lives with his parents and three younger brothers - Paddy and twins Sam and Harry...
“ THE IMPOSSIBLE ” - explorer801
Ewan McGregor
Ewan Gordon McGregor was born on March 31, 1971 in Perth, Perthshire, Scotland, to Carol Diane (Lawson) and James Charles McGregor, both teachers. His uncle is actor Denis Lawson. He was raised in Crieff. At age 16, he left Morrison Academy to join the Perth Repertory Theatre. His parents encouraged him to leave school and pursue his acting goals rather than be unhappy...
“ THE IMPOSSIBLE ” - explorer801
Helen Mirren
Actress, The Queen
Dame Helen Mirren was born in Queen Charlotte's Hospital in West London. Her mother, Kathleen Alexandrina Eva Matilda (Rogers), was from a working-class English family, and her father, Vasiliy Petrovich Mironov, was a Russian-born civil servant, from Kuryanovo, whose own father was a diplomat. Mirren attended St...
“ HITCHCOCK ” - explorer801
Joaquin Phoenix
Actor, Gladiator
Joaquin Phoenix was born in San Juan, Puerto Rico, to Arlyn (Dunetz) and John Bottom, and is the middle child in a brood of five. His parents, from the continental United States, were then serving as Children of God missionaries. His mother is from a Jewish family in New York, while his father, from California...
“ THE MASTER ” - explorer801
Tommy Lee Jones
Tommy Lee Jones was born in San Saba, Texas, the son of Lucille Marie (Scott), a police officer and beauty shop owner, and Clyde C. Jones, who worked on oil fields. Tommy himself worked in underwater construction and on an oil rig. He attended St. Mark's School of Texas, a prestigious prep school for boys in Dallas...
“ LINCOLN & HOPE SPRINGS ” - explorer801
Amy Adams
Actress, Man of Steel
Amy Lou Adams was born in Vicenza, Veneto, Italy, to American parents Kathryn (Hicken) and Richard Kent Adams, while her father was a U.S. serviceman. She was raised in a Mormon family of seven children in Castle Rock, Colorado, and has English, as well as smaller amounts of Danish, Swiss-German, and Norwegian, ancestry...
“ THE MASTER ” - explorer801
Jessica Chastain
Actress, The Martian
Jessica Michelle Chastain was born in Sacramento, California, and was raised in a middle-class household in a northern California suburb. Her mother, Jerri Chastain, is a vegan chef whose family is originally from Kansas, and her stepfather is a fireman. She discovered dance at the age of nine and was in a dance troupe by age thirteen...
“ ZERO DARK THIRTY ” - explorer801
Philip Seymour Hoffman
Actor, Capote
Film and stage actor and theater director Philip Seymour Hoffman was born in the Rochester, New York, suburb of Fairport on July 23, 1967. He was the son of Marilyn (Loucks), a lawyer and judge, and Gordon Stowell Hoffman, a Xerox employee, and was mostly of German, Irish, English and Dutch ancestry...
“ THE MASTER ” - explorer801
Denzel Washington
Denzel Hayes Washington, Jr. was born on December 28, 1954 in Mount Vernon, New York. He is the middle of three children of a beautician mother, Lennis (Lowe), from Georgia, and a Pentecostal minister father, Denzel Washington, Sr., from Virginia. After graduating from high school, Denzel enrolled at Fordham University...
“ FLIGHT ” - explorer801
Susan Sarandon
Susan Sarandon was born Susan Abigail Tomalin in New York City, New York, to Lenora Marie (Criscione) and Phillip Leslie Tomalin, a television producer and advertising executive. She is of Italian (mother) and English, Irish, Welsh, and German (father) descent. Soon after the 1968 Democratic convention...
Ezra Miller
Ezra Matthew Miller was born in Wyckoff, New Jersey, to Marta (Koch), a modern dancer, and Robert S. Miller, who has worked at Workman Publishing and as former senior VP for Hyperion Books. He has two older sisters. Ezra is of Ashkenazi Jewish (father) and German-Dutch (mother) ancestry; he has described himself as Jewish and "spiritual"...
Logan Lerman
Logan was born in Beverly Hills, to a Jewish family. His parents are Lisa (Goldman), who works as his manager, and Larry Lerman, an orthotist and businessman. He has two siblings, Lindsey and Lucas, both older. His relatives operate the orthotics and prosthetics company Lerman & Son, which was founded by his great-grandfather, Jacob Lerman...
Rebel Wilson
Actress, Pitch Perfect
Rebel Wilson was born in Sydney, Australia. She trained at the Australian Theatre for Young People and at Second City in the US. After a successful stage and television career in Australia, this writer/actress/producer now focuses on feature film projects in the United States and is perhaps most known for her breakthrough roles in the films Bridesmaids and Pitch Perfect.
“ PITCH PERFECT ” - explorer801
Anna Kendrick
Actress, Up in the Air
Anna Kendrick was born in Portland, Maine, to Janice (Cooke), an accountant, and William Kendrick, a teacher. She has an older brother, Michael Cooke Kendrick, who has also acted. She is of English, Irish, and Scottish descent. For her role as "Dinah" in "High Society" on Broadway, Anna Kendrick was nominated for a Tony Award (second youngest ever)...
“ PITCH PERFECT ” - explorer801
Jean-Louis Trintignant
Actor, Amour
Born 1930 in Piolenc in south France as son of a wealthy industrialist. Studied law in Aix-en-Provence. Started theatrical acting in 1950, but was regarded untalented at first, until Roger Vadim discovered him for the movies. When the press stalked him 1956 because of rumors of an affair with Brigitte Bardot his partner in ...And God Created Woman...
“ AMOUR ” - explorer801
John Goodman
John Stephen Goodman is a U.S. film, television, and stage actor. He was born in St. Louis, Missouri, to Virginia Roos (Loosmore), a waitress and saleswoman, and Leslie Francis Goodman, a postal worker who died when John was a small child. He is of English, Welsh, and German ancestry. John is best known for his role as Dan Conner on the television series Roseanne (1988-1997)...
“ ARGO ” - explorer801
Irrfan Khan
Actor, Life of Pi
Acclaimed by the critics & the entire world as one of the best actor of his times Irrfan Khan hails from India. Born and brought up in Jaipur into feudal Nawab family, though had no one from the entertainment field in the family, his passion was acting since childhood.While he was doing his masters...
“ LIFE OF PI ” - explorer801
David Strathairn
David Russell Strathairn was born on January 26, 1949 in San Francisco, California. He is the son of Mary Frances (Frazier), a nurse, and Thomas Scott Strathairn, Jr., a physician. He has two siblings, Tom and Anne. His ancestry includes English, Scottish, Irish, Portuguese, Native Hawaiian, and one sixteenth Chinese (the latter three from his paternal grandmother)...
“ LINCOLN ” - explorer801
Meryl Streep
Considered by many critics to be the greatest living actress, Meryl Streep has been nominated for the Academy Award an astonishing 19 times, and has won it three times. Meryl was born Mary Louise Streep in 1949 in Summit, New Jersey, to Mary Wolf (Wilkinson), a commercial artist, and Harry William Streep...
“ HOPE SPRINGS ” - explorer801
Judi Dench
Actress, Skyfall
Judi Dench was born in York, England, to Eleanora Olive (Jones), who was from Dublin, Ireland, and Reginald Arthur Dench, a doctor from Dorset, England. She attended Mount School in York, and studied at the Central School of Speech and Drama. She has performed with Royal Shakespeare Company, the National Theatre...
Matthew McConaughey
American actor and producer Matthew David McConaughey was born in Uvalde, Texas. His mother, Mary Kathleen (McCabe), is a substitute school teacher originally from New Jersey. His father, James Donald McConaughey, was a Mississippi-born gas station owner who ran an oil pipe supply business. He is of Scottish...
“ MAGIC MIKE ” - explorer801
Brad Pitt
An actor and producer known as much for his versatility as he is for his handsome face, Golden Globe-winner Brad Pitt's most widely recognized role may be Tyler Durden in Fight Club. However, his portrayals of Billy Beane in Moneyball, and Rusty Ryan in the remake of Ocean's Eleven and its sequels, also loom large in his filmography...
“ KILLING THEM SOFTLY ” - explorer801
Samuel L. Jackson
Samuel L. Jackson is an American producer and highly prolific actor, having appeared in over 100 films, including Die Hard with a Vengeance, Unbreakable, Shaft, Formula 51, Black Snake Moan, Snakes on a Plane, and the Star Wars prequel trilogy (1999-2005), as well as the Marvel Cinematic Universe...
“ DJANGO UNCHAINED ” - explorer801
Nicole Kidman
Actress, Moulin Rouge!
Elegant blonde Nicole Kidman, known as one of Hollywood's top Australian imports, was actually born in Honolulu, Hawaii, while her Australian parents were there on educational visas. Kidman is the daughter of Janelle Ann (Glenny), a nursing instructor, and Antony David Kidman, a biochemist and clinical psychologist...
“ THE PAPERBOY ” - explorer801
Bill Murray
Bill Murray is an American actor, comedian, and writer. The fifth of nine children, he was born William James Murray in Wilmette, Illinois, to Lucille (Collins), a mailroom clerk, and Edward Joseph Murray II, who sold lumber. He is of Irish descent. Among his siblings are actors Brian Doyle-Murray, Joel Murray...
“ HYDE PARK ON HUDSON ” - explorer801
Marion Cotillard
Actress, Inception
Academy Award-winning Actress Marion Cotillard was born on September 30, 1975 in Paris. Cotillard is the daughter of Jean-Claude Cotillard, an actor, playwright and director, and Niseema Theillaud, an actress and drama teacher. Her father's family is Breton and her mother has Kabyle ancestry. Raised in Orléans...
“ RUST & BONE ” - explorer801
Ann Dowd
Actress, Compliance
“ COMPLIANCE ” - explorer801
Keira Knightley
Keira Christina Knightley was born in the South West Greater London suburb of Richmond on March 26th 1985. She is the daughter of actor Will Knightley and actress turned playwright Sharman Macdonald. An older brother, Caleb Knightley, was born in 1979. Her father is English, while her Scottish-born mother is of Scottish and Welsh origin...
“ ANNA KARENINA ” - explorer801
Rachel Weisz
Actress, The Mummy
Rachel Hannah Weisz was born on 7 March, 1970, in London, U.K., to Edith Ruth (Teich), a psychoanalyst, and George Weisz, an inventor. Her parents both came to England around 1938. Her father is a Hungarian Jewish immigrant, and her mother, from Vienna, is of Italian and Austrian Jewish heritage. Rachel has a sister, Minnie, a curator and photographer...
“ THE DEEP BLUE SEA ” - explorer801
Richard Gere
Humanitarian and actor Richard Gere was born on August 31, 1949, in Philadelphia, the second of five children of Doris Ann (Tiffany), a homemaker, and Homer George Gere, an insurance salesman, both Mayflower descendants. Richard started early as a musician, playing a number of instruments in high school and writing music for high school productions...
“ ARBITRAGE ” - explorer801
Jack Black
Jack Black was born Thomas Jacob Black in Santa Monica, California, to Judith Love (Cohen) and Thomas William Black, both satellite engineers. He is of British-German (father) and Russian Jewish (mother) ancestry. Black attended the University of California at Los Angeles. While at UCLA, he was a member...
“ BERNIE ” - explorer801
Emily Blunt
Actress, Sicario
Emily Olivia Leah Blunt is a British actress known for her roles in The Young Victoria and The Devil Wears Prada. Blunt was born on February 23, 1983, in Roehampton, South West London, England, the second of four children in the family of Joanna Mackie, a former actress and teacher, and Oliver Simon Peter Blunt...
Bryan Cranston
Bryan Cranston is an American actor, voice actor, screenwriter, director and producer. He is best known for portraying Walter White on the AMC crime drama series Breaking Bad, Hal on the Fox comedy series Malcolm in the Middle, Tim Sacksky on the CBS comedy series King of Queens, and Dr. Tim Whatley on the NBC comedy series Seinfeld...
“ ARGO ” - explorer801
Tom Cruise
Actor, Top Gun
In 1976, if you had told 14 year old Franciscan seminary student Thomas Cruise Mapother IV that one day in the not too distant future he would be considered one of the top 100 movie stars of all time, he would have probably grinned and told you that his ambition was to become a priest. Nonetheless, this sensitive...
“ ROCK OF AGES ” - explorer801
Bruce Willis
Actor and musician Bruce Willis is well known for playing wisecracking or hard-edged characters, often in spectacular action films. Collectively, he has appeared in films that have grossed in excess of $2.5 billion USD, placing him in the top ten stars in terms of box office receipts. Walter Bruce Willis was born on March 19...
“ MOONRISE KINGDOM ” - explorer801
Charlize Theron
Charlize Theron was born in Benoni, a city in the greater Johannesburg-area, in South Africa, the only child of Gerda Theron (née Gerda Jacoba Aletta Maritz) and Charles Jacobus Theron. She was raised on a farm outside the city. Theron is of Afrikaner (Dutch, with some French Huguenot and German) descent, and Afrikaner military figure Danie Theron was her great-great-uncle...
“ SNOW WHITE & THE HUNTSMAN (not a great movie, but a very good performance by Theron) ” - explorer801
Woody Harrelson
Academy Award-nominated and Emmy Award winner Woody Harrelson was born on July 23, 1961 in Midland, Texas, to Diane Lou (Oswald) and Charles Harrelson. He grew up in Lebanon, Ohio, and, after receiving degrees in theater arts and English from Hanover College, had a brief stint in New York theater. He was soon cast as Woody on TV series Cheers...
“ THE HUNGER GAMES ” - explorer801