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pitt-benbutton.jpgMoviephone.com has made the confident pronouncement that Brad Pitt’s turn in “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” is not only excellent, but it is his best role ever. That’s saying something–and it’s an interesting question for us to ask about any actor we follow. .

“Pitt plays Benjamin at each stage of his life– from naive wrinkly old man to wizened smooth-faced youth, nailing the emotional journey every step of the way,” says Moviephone.com. “It’s a virtuoso performance in a heartbreaking film.” He’s certainly come a long way from “The Mexican,” perhaps the most over-expected and under-received film of the decade (with Julia Roberts).

For a popular actor who just made the light “Burn After Reading” and who is mostly known for the “Ocean’s” capers, this is quite an affirmation and a deserved one. I’ve long felt that Pitt is not only a fine actor, but he brings an inspiring everyman quality to roles that often go un-credited among tabloid headlines and critical reviews.

I first noticed the power of Pitt’s screen presence in “A River Runs Through It,” and I also felt he went largely unappreciated in “Spy Game.”  “Seven,” “Babel,” and “12 Monkeys” were also among his best films.  He’s also been vulnerable on screen, attempting roles that have proven somewhat less than noteworthy. I thought he was pedestrian in “Thelma & Louise,” as well as miscast in “Seven Years in Tibet” and “The Devil’s Own” (he couldn’t pull off the accents in either film). According to a Moviephone.com list of Brad Pitt’s best and worst movie roles, “A River Runs Through It” is #9, “Thelma & Louise” is #8, the “Ocean’s” trilogy is #7, “Babel” is #6, “12 Monkeys” (going way back!) is #4,  and “Seven” is #2.

When I saw “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button,” I first thought he wanted to appear more serious after his goofy turn in “Burn After Reading,” but his sublime work in “Button” has grown on me.  I’m sure the impression will last long even after the award season is over.

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