Some are obvious, others are not. But here are my favorites!
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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...
“ His performance in "Dallas Buyers Club" is the very best acting you'll see this year! ” - explorer801
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...
“ Let's just get AMERICAN HUSTLE out of the way! Lawrence blew me away! So funny & tragic, but she somehow shows a look of smarts in her eyes. It's like she knows exactly what she's doing. ” - 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...
“ Her accents, fake names, and wardrobe are astonishing. In AMERICAN HUSTLE when we discover why she's become a crook, Adams establishes why. ” - explorer801
Bradley Cooper
Bradley Charles Cooper was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. His mother, Gloria (Campano), is of Italian descent, and worked for a local NBC station. His father, Charles John "Charlie" Cooper, who was of Irish descent, was a stockbroker. He has a sister, Holly. Immediately after Bradley graduated from the Honors English program at Georgetown University in 1997...
“ In AMERICAN HUSTLE Cooper plays a guy on the right side of the law who is just as much (if not more) a hustler than those who admit to be. The silliness & comic moments in his performance are genuine. ” - explorer801
Christian Bale
Christian Charles Philip Bale was born in Pembrokeshire, Wales, UK on January 30, 1974, to English parents Jennifer "Jenny" (James) and David Charles Howard Bale. His mother was a circus performer and his father, who was born in South Africa, was a commercial pilot. The family lived in different countries throughout Bale's childhood...
“ Bale's combover alone in AMERICAN HUSTLE is Award worthy. What I loved about Bale's portrayal was that his character is, by all means, not what society would deem attractive. He's overweight, overbearing, and though he tries faking it--he's pretty much bald. But he has these people in his life who cling to him & desire to have him around. Quite frankly, I would too. His performance is one of magnetic proportions. ” - explorer801
Emma Thompson
Emma Thompson was born in London on April 15, 1959, into a family of actors - her father was Eric Thompson, who has passed away, and her mother, Phyllida Law, has co-starred with Thompson in several films (her sister, Sophie Thompson, is an actor as well). Her father was English-born and her mother is Scottish-born...
“ One of 2013's best performances. In SAVING MR. BANKS, Thompson plays prickly author of Mary Poppins. She is hesitant to sell movie rights to Mr. Disney to say the least. She demands to be a part of every aspect of the film--from music, characters, casting, you name it. And she makes the production team steam. That is until Disney discovers why Mary Poppins is so important to Travers. The story is not as whimsical as first thought. It's a tale of her tragic childhood, and all these characters actually existed. Triumphant. ” - explorer801
Chiwetel Ejiofor
Chiwetel Ejiofor is an English actor. He is known for his portrayal of Okwe in Dirty Pretty Things (2002), the Operative in Serenity (2005), Lola in Kinky Boots (2005), Luke in Children of Men (2006), Dr. Adrian Helmsley in 2012 (2009) and Dr. Vincent Kapoor in The Martian (2015). He played Solomon Northup in 12 Years a Slave (2013)...
“ Should we get 12 YEARS A SLAVE out of the way? Ejiofor is a revelation of a true actor with much in his future! (I can't believe this is the guy who stole the show from the movie "Kinky Boots" years ago! ” - explorer801
Lupita Nyong'o
Lupita Amondi Nyong'o was born March 1, 1983 in Mexico City, Mexico, to Kenyan parents, Dorothy and Peter Anyang' Nyong'o. Her father, a senator, was then a visiting lecturer in political science. She was raised in Kenya. At age 16, her parents sent her back to Mexico for seven months to learn Spanish...
“ Her finely nuanced performance is honest, if sad (as it's intended to be). ” - explorer801
Michael Fassbender
Michael Fassbender was born in Heidelberg, Germany, to a German father, Josef, and an Irish mother, Adele (originally from Larne, County Antrim, in Northern Ireland). Michael was raised in the town of Killarney, Co. Kerry, in south-west Ireland, where his family moved to when he was two years old. His parents ran a restaurant (his father is a chef)...
“ If you can take a likable actor & make him despicable, even hated, you have a great actor! ” - explorer801
Sarah Paulson
Sarah Paulson was born on December 17, 1974 in Tampa, Florida, to Catharine Gordon (Dolcater) and Douglas Lyle Paulson II. She spent most of her early years in New York and Maine, before settling in Manhattan to attend the American Academy of Dramatic Arts and the High School for Performing Arts. Although...
“ Wow. Give her more to do in more movies in the future! ” - explorer801
Cate Blanchett
Cate Blanchett was born on May 14, 1969 in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, to June (Gamble), an Australian teacher and property developer, and Robert DeWitt Blanchett, Jr., an American advertising executive, originally from Texas. She has an older brother and a younger sister. When she was ten years old...
“ Working under Woody Allen's script & direction, Blanchett delivers one of her finest performances yet. ” - explorer801
Sally Hawkins
Sally Hawkins was born in 1976 in Lewisham hospital, London, England, to Jacqui and Colin Hawkins, authors and illustrators of children's books. She is of English and Irish descent. Hawkins was brought up in Greenwich, in southeast London. She attended James Allen's Girls' School in Dulwich. She graduated from the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in 1998...
“ Thinking of BLUE JASMINE, I was pleased to see Sally Hawkins get an Oscar nomination! Her less neurotic character oozed unconditional love, and I felt it! ” - explorer801
Bobby Cannavale
Actor, Ant-Man
In both career and in real life, Bobby Cannavale tends to choose the unconventional way of doing things. In the beginning, his decisions may have cost the dark, swarthily good-looking actor some acting roles and/or good-paying money but, in the end, his strong work ethic and sense of self, despite a lack of formal training...
“ Without Cannavale's oafish charm, we'd not have had an anchor in BLUE JASMINE. Great acting indeed, when the most rational character seems to be the doofus of the bunch. ” - explorer801
Tom Hanks
Thomas Jeffrey Hanks was born in Concord, California, to Janet Marylyn (Frager), a hospital worker, and Amos Mefford Hanks, an itinerant cook. His father had English, and some German, ancestry, while his mother's family, originally surnamed "Fraga", was entirely Portuguese. Tom grew up in what he has called a "fractured" family...
“ Unfathomable that Hanks' performances in SAVING MR. BANKS (as Mr. Walt Disney) & CAPTAIN PHILLIPS seemed to give him a double chance at the Academy Awards. Nominations didn't happen. The performance in CP was solid throughout, but the last 20 minutes were so anguished he should have that nomination at least! ” - explorer801
Jared Leto
Jared Leto made his film debut in How to Make an American Quilt (1995) and received critical praise for his performance in Prefontaine (1997). Leto played supporting roles in The Thin Red Line (1998), Fight Club (1999) and American Psycho (2000), as well as the lead role in Urban Legend (1998), and earned critical acclaim after portraying heroin addict Harry Goldfarb in Requiem for a Dream (2000)...
“ Leto came out of left field from a 4 year acting hiatus and gave us the beauty of finding a true person clinging to life through his stereotypical role which he broke the rules & made his character more than a gay drag queen...he made her fragile & human. ” - explorer801
Julia Roberts
Actress, Notting Hill
Julia Fiona Roberts never dreamed she would become the most popular actress in America. She was born in Smyrna, Georgia, to Betty Lou (Bredemus) and Walter Grady Roberts, one-time actors and playwrights, and is of English, Irish, Scottish, Welsh, German, and Swedish descent. As a child, due to her love of animals...
“ The entire (massive) cast of AUGUST: OSAGE COUNTY was supreme! But three of its players stand out, beginning with Julia Roberts playing at her bitter, foul-mouthed best! ” - 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...
“ Seeing Streep do anything is a gift. Playing a cancerous, hateful, lost woman, who has lost any sense of family values is nothing new either ("One True Thing"--cancer, "The Devil Wears Prada/"Death Becomes Her"--hateful, "Sophie's Choice"--lost, "Marvin's Room/"Kramer vs. Kramer"--family issues). Somehow in "August: Osage County" she plays a woman so believably broken and selfish, she only can deal her "loved ones" with brutal honesty, so brash that the viewer finds it amusing. She's done it again. ” - explorer801
Margo Martindale
Margo Martindale was born July 18, 1951 in Jacksonville, Texas, to Margaret (Pruitt) and William Everett Martindale, a lumber company owner and dog handler. She is the youngest of three children, and the only daughter. Margo attended Lon Marris College, and later transferred to University of Michigan at Ann Arbor...
“ Martindale has generally always been a "bit-actress". But AUGUST: OSAGE COUNTY gives her a chance to shine. She has her issues we discover (shockingly), and she is no better than the rest of the players in the film. She just does it so convincingly. ” - explorer801
Jennifer Garner
Jennifer Garner, who catapulted into stardom with her lead role on the television series Alias, has come a long way from her birthplace of Houston, Texas. Raised in Charleston, West Virginia by her mother, Patricia Ann (née English), a retired teacher of English, and her father, William John Garner...
“ Garner (who deserved a nomination for "Juno") is much of where the heart of DALLAS BUYERS CLUB begins. As the film starts we see harsh, bigoted, ignorant characters until she comes on screen showing how much she selflessly cares for her patients, even the ignorant ones. She holds a key in influencing the bigoted characters see things differently. And she does so with a believable grace. ” - explorer801
Joaquin Phoenix
Actor, Gladiator
Joaquin Phoenix is an American actor, producer, music video director, musician and activist. He started his career by appearing in episodes of television shows with his brother River Phoenix and sister Summer Phoenix. His first major film release was in the comedy-drama film Parenthood (1989). During his period as a child actor he was credited as Leaf Phoenix...
“ Most of HER rests on the shoulders of Phoenix's very capable shoulders. ” - explorer801
Leonardo DiCaprio
Actor, Inception
Since the 2000s, DiCaprio has received critical acclaim for his work in a wide range of film genres. His subsequent films include The Man in the Iron Mask (1998), the biographical crime drama Catch Me If You Can (2002) and the epic historical drama Gangs of New York (2002) which also marked his first of many collaborations with director Martin Scorsese...
“ WOLF OF WALL STREET seems like an overstuffed slap in the face. I admired it, but didn't love it (poorly marketed). But one can't deny DiCaprio's charming performance filled with debauchery & crime. He played it perfectly. (Why he didn't win in 1993 for "What's Eating Gilbert Grape" is a travesty!) ” - explorer801
Sandra Bullock
Actress, Gravity
Sandra Annette Bullock was born in Arlington, a Virginia suburb of Washington, D.C. Her mother, Helga Bullock (née Helga Mathilde Meyer), was a German opera singer. Her father, John W. Bullock, was an American voice teacher, who was born in Alabama, of Irish, English, French, and German descent. Sandra grew up on the road with her parents and younger sister...
“ Bullock did NOT deserve to win for "The Blind Side". But her turn in GRAVITY astonished me! Not only a flawless film, but a plot driven almost solely by Bullock. She let us into her claustrophobic world & even established a back story (not through flashbacks either). We rooted for her though we knew not what she was going back to on Earth. Tough performance! ” - explorer801
Forest Whitaker
Actor, Platoon
Forest Steven Whitaker has packaged a king-size talent into his hulking 6' 2", 220 lb. frame. He won an Academy Award for his performance as Ugandan dictator Idi Amin in the 2006 film The Last King of Scotland, and has also won a Golden Globe and a BAFTA. He is the fourth African-American male to win an Academy Award for Best Actor...
“ Oprah, aside. We all know she's a great actress--now somebody give her a better part to play. Whitaker was THE reason to see LEE DANIELS' THE BUTLER. It was even better than his Oscar winning turn in "Last King of Scotland". He so subtlety and humbly played a man who worked his way past career & family issues to become just what he wanted...esteemed. Even when recognized he did so humbly. It was astonishing. ” - 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...
“ Only a few things need to be said: PHILOMENA is brilliantly written. And two more words: JUDI DENCH... ” - explorer801
Oprah Winfrey
Oprah Winfrey was born Orpah Gail Winfrey in Kosciusko, Mississippi, to Vernita Lee, a former maid, and Vernon Winfrey, a coal miner, barber, and city councilman. While Winfrey has been cited as the richest African American of the 20th century, she does not come from a rich, or even middle class, family...
“ THE COLOR PURPLE was the moment I realized that, as an actress, Winfrey was a force to be reckoned with. Years later with BELOVED I was again assured. Her turn in LEE DANIELS' THE BUTLER was amazing because she discarded her Oprah persona & became her character. Had it been a meatier role, I think an Oscar nomination would have been. ” - explorer801
Bruce Dern
Actor, Nebraska
Bruce Dern was born in Chicago, Illinois, to Jean (MacLeish) and John Dern, an attorney and utility chief. His paternal grandfather, George Henry Dern, served as Governor of Utah (1925-1933) and then U.S. Secretary of War (1933-1936). His ancestry includes German, English, Scottish, and Dutch. Bruce Dern had established himself as the movies' premier heavy...
“ I've watched Dern through the bad ("Down Periscope") and the good ("Coming Home", "Big Love"). Have always rooted for him & his everyman quality. His boozing Woody in NEBRASKA who is slipping into dementia is believable & tragic. Yet--we still root for the poor fella. ” - explorer801
“ Sqibb's face tells a story of its own in NEBRASKA. The sadness in her expressions shows her longing & true love for a man she may be losing. Perfect. ” - explorer801
Robert Redford
Actor, The Sting
Charles Robert Redford, Jr. was born on August 18, 1936, in Santa Monica, California, to Martha (Hart), from Texas, and Charles Robert Redford, an accountant for Standard Oil, who was originally from Connecticut. He is of English, Irish, and Scottish ancestry. Robert's mother died in 1955, the year after he graduated from high school...
“ ALL IS LOST featured very little human interaction or dialogue. When Redford did speak (yell) it was in anger, entwined with eff-words. His journey is desperate and despairing. We NEED him to make it out because Redford makes us feel like we're with him in the hell he is experiencing. ” - explorer801
“ The Oscars wouldn't be complete without a true villain in tow. Abdi's frightening performance is one of gusto & severity. The way he & Tom Hanks play off each other is marvelous in CAPTAIN PHILLIPS. ” - explorer801
Michael Douglas
Actor, The Game
An actor with over forty years of experience in theatre, film, and television, Michael Douglas branched out into independent feature production in 1975 with the Academy Award-winning One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. Since then, as a producer and as an actor-producer, he has shown an uncanny knack for choosing projects that reflect changing trends and public concerns...
“ When I heard that Douglas was set to play Liberace in BEHIND THE CANDELABRA, I was unsure if he had that much ability. I was wrong. Douglas becomes Liberace in all ways: looks, mannerisms, and all. ” - explorer801
Matt Damon
Matthew Paige Damon was born on October 8, 1970, in Boston, Massachusetts, to Kent Damon, a stockbroker, realtor and tax preparer, and Nancy Carlsson-Paige, an early childhood education professor at Lesley University. Matt has an older brother named Kyle who is now a sculptor. His father is of English and Scottish descent...
“ Much like Matthew McConaughey (in "Dallas Buyers Club"), Damon broke his stereotypical typecast playing Michael Douglas' protege in BEHIND THE CANDELABRA. Because of Damon's fine work, the film became a story about two sad souls, not just a story about Liberace. ” - explorer801
James Gandolfini
James Gandolfini was born in Westwood, New Jersey, to Santa (Penna), a high school lunchlady, and James Joseph Gandolfini, Sr., a bricklayer and head school janitor. His parents were both of Italian origin. Gandolfini began acting in the New York theater. His Broadway debut was in the 1992 revival of "A Streetcar Named Desire" with Jessica Lange and Alec Baldwin...
“ It seems fitting to put Gandolfini on this list as an homage to his career. But whether he passed or not, he'd be here. His humble, endearing work in ENOUGH SAID is pure gold. Rest in peace. ” - explorer801
Julia Louis-Dreyfus
Actress, Seinfeld
Julia Louis-Dreyfus was born on January 13, 1961, in the New York City borough of Manhattan, to Judith (LeFever), a special needs tutor and author, and Gérard Louis-Dreyfus, a billionaire businessman. Her parents divorced when she was young, and she spent her childhood in Washington, D.C., and New York. She met her husband, Brad Hall, while in college...
“ Her nuanced performance in ENOUGH SAID is her movie-best thus far. Her divorced character facing empty nest syndrome is enough to give her to fly with. Then we are presented with a possible new love (and other complications), and she plays it with doubt. Loved her honest performance. ” - explorer801
Jessica Lange
Actress, Big Fish
Jessica Phyllis Lange was born 1949 in Cloquet, Minnesota, to Dorothy Florence (Sahlman) and Albert John Lange, a traveling salesman and teacher. She is of Finnish (mother) and Dutch and German (father) descent. She obtained a scholarship to study art at the University of Minnesota, but instead went to Paris to study drama...
“ This woman can do no wrong. In AMERICAN HORROR STORY: ASYLUM, she plays a vicious nun in an insane asylum governed by cruel people with selfish motives of their own. Yet Lange take her Sister Jude character and breathes a life into it that, while cunning, lets us see why she does such unfathomable deeds to people who don't deserve it. By the last 4 episodes, we are rooting for Lange's success though she doesn't deserve it. I actually weeped at her sweet demise. ” - explorer801
“ Rabe's portrayal of a pure nun who becomes possessed by the devil in AMERICAN HORROR STORY: ASYLUM was the picture of innocence lost. She flips between good & evil so flawlessly. ” - explorer801
Evan Peters
Actor, Kick-Ass
Evan Peters was born in the winter of 1987 to Phil and Julie Peters in St. Louis, Missouri. When his father's job was transferred and the family moved to Grand Blanc, Michigan, Evan began taking acting classes and at age 15, he moved with his mother to Los Angeles in hopes of pursuing a career in the entertainment industry...
“ Peters was given a challenging part to play in ASYLUM. He's the innocent one who is at the mercy of the asylum's reprehensible staff. We see him evolve from a weak, meek boy into a tricky, strong man who is bent on escaping & bringing down the evil in the asylum. Watch out for Peters--he's going to be big. ” - explorer801
Sarah Paulson
Sarah Paulson was born on December 17, 1974 in Tampa, Florida, to Catharine Gordon (Dolcater) and Douglas Lyle Paulson II. She spent most of her early years in New York and Maine, before settling in Manhattan to attend the American Academy of Dramatic Arts and the High School for Performing Arts. Although...
“ She appears twice on this list. Her lesbian reporter in ASYLUM is a force to be reckoned with. She is convincingly broken down several times only to arise again to finish what is undone. Amazing work. ” - explorer801
Frances Conroy
Veteran stage actress Frances Conroy was introduced and encouraged by her parents to explore the elements of theater. Born in Georgia in 1953, she attended high school in Long Island and experienced classes at the Neighborhood Playhouse as a teenager. The pale, blue-eyed redhead also studied at Juilliard where she was taught by theater greats John Houseman and Marian Seldes...
“ Her darkly gorgeous Angel of Death in ASYLUM enamoured me. Whenever she was present, I could not take my eyes off of her. She has that much force in her acting. ” - explorer801
James Cromwell
Born in Los Angeles but raised in Manhattan and educated at Middlebury College and Carnegie-Mellon University, James Cromwell, the son of famous film director John Cromwell, studied acting at Carnegie-Mellon. He went into the theater (like both his parents) doing everything from Shakespeare to experimental plays...
“ If you're searching for "Babe"'s Farmer Hogget, don't sniff around here. Cromwell's "doctor" in ASYLUM is nothing but terrifying. He murders, but even worse, he experiments on the unfortunate allowing, even enjoying, their suffering. ” - explorer801
Zachary Quinto
Actor, Star Trek
Zachary Quinto was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, to Margaret J. (McArdle), an Irish-American office worker, and Joseph John Quinto, an Italian-American barber. Zachary graduated from Central Catholic High School in Pittsburgh, with the class of 1995, where he won Pittsburgh's Gene Kelly Award...
“ This is becoming an AMERICAN HORROR STORY: ASYLUM list, I realize. But its ensemble was so flawless. Quinto's redeemable doctor seems so authentic. It slowly dissipates into the most menacing thing you could imagine. The transition is seamless. ” - explorer801