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And the Oscar for best performance by facial hair goes to ...

November 29, 2012|By Glenn Whipp

Philip Seymour Hoffman's mustache

The movie: "The Master"

The performance: Many wondered whether Hoffman's 'stache could make it on its own after being paired so often with its chin-whiskers partner. Not only does the mustache make it solo, it transforms Hoffman's mug into that of a debonair man, a scoundrel, if you will. Hoffman's writer/doctor/nuclear physicist/theoretical philosopher could never have been so hopelessly inqusitive, so effortlessly charming without its splendor.

What the critics say: "The hopes and fears projected upon 'The Master' by an audience thirsting for fresh cinematic water cooler discussion are as thick and luscious as the mustache Philip Seymour Hoffman sports in the film." — Robert Saucedo, Inside Pulse

Ben Affleck's beard

The movie: "Argo"

The performance: Not since Barry Gibb gave the world a case of "Night Fever" in the late '70s has a beard been this groovalicious. Just look at it! No, not his hair. The beard! OK. You can look at the hair too. The movie gives you enough beautifully lighted close-ups of both, so you don't have to be choosy.

What the critics say: "Affleck's performance is 90% beard." — Amanda Hess, Slate

Bruce McGill's beard

The movie: "Lincoln"

The performance: Acting opposite Daniel Day-Lewis is a Herculean task. Acting opposite Day-Lewis' iconic Lincoln beard? Fuhgeddaboudit! And yet, the epic facial hair McGill sports as Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton not only rises to the occasion, but it also, upon occasion, surpasses its better-known counterpart. Sure, Lincoln, as Stanton famously said, "belongs to the ages." But as ZZ Top would tell you, so does Stanton's beard.

What the critics say: "Enough important facial hair to make the young beard farmers of 21st century Brooklyn weep tears of envy." — A.O. Scott, the New York Times

Daniel Day-Lewis' beard

The movie: "Lincoln"

The performance: Playing the most beloved facial hair in presidential history, Lincoln's beard eschews grandstanding in favor of a plainspoken gravitas. The effect is startling. You thought you knew Lincoln's beard? Think again and watch the past come alive!

What the critics say: "Boy, does [Day-Lewis] relish in that top hat and facial hair. Lincoln scratches his beard just like any other man." — Christopher Cross, Independent Cinema

Jack Black's mustache

The movie: "Bernie"

The performance: In its first performance since "Nacho Libre," Black's impeccably trimmed mustache defines the movie's title character as both a man of culture and taste. And just look at the way it highlights his sweet smile! Too often overshadowed by the performer's manic eyebrows, "Bernie" gives this criminally underused set of whiskers a chance to shed its sidekick status.

What the critics say: "There is no slobbiness in Black this time in the natty Wayne Newton mustache." — Richard von Busack,

Leonardo DiCaprio's beard

The movie: "Django Unchained"

The performance: As "Django's" perverse plantation owner, DiCaprio chose to go the full devil route with his beard, a move a bit too on the nose. (Or, in this case, on the chin.) But sometimes the obvious option is the best, particularly when the facial hair in question must compete with rival stubble from the likes of Christoph Waltz and Jamie Foxx.

What the critics say: "Mephistophelean!" — Nick de Semlyen, Empire Magazine

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