Oscar: Lead actor

Why he’ll win: Pitt, in one form or another, is at the center of the year’s most nominated movie. As the innocent who ages backward, he delivers a tender, charismatic performance that captures Button’s curiosity and wonder — even when he’s working with just his voice and his eyes.

Maybe not: Some critics have carped that the character of Button is too passive and detached and that the meticulously crafted movie (and, by extension, Pitt’s performance) is somewhat antiseptic and cold, and that there’s not an emotional attachment to the character.

Critical quote: “Pitt is one contemporary star who knows how much energy and depth is required to understand the outer world. He makes palpable the movie’s central theme: the connection of one life to many through a series of what Fitzgerald might have called ‘golden moments,'” says Michael Sragow of the Baltimore Sun.

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