This one gives me pause. Anne Hathaway is a fine young actress. The dignity and humility with which she comports herself off-screen is admirable and has made her an academy favorite.
There is no doubt the actress pushes herself to take risks. She is fearless in virtually any role, which you know if you saw her suited up as Catwoman — seriously, she brought a wickedly delicious gravitas to "The Dark Knight Rises."
And no question, Hathaway put everything on the line to play the dying Fantine in "Les Misérables." She wasted away some 25 pounds to better portray the poverty-entrenched factory worker-turned-prostitute. She shaved off those gorgeous Pantene locks. She braved ruthless close-ups. Tears streaming, throat constricting, you could hear Fantine's pain in every note.
Was this the year's best performance in a formidable group that included a standout turn by Sally Field in "Lincoln" and the self-righteous obsession of Amy Adams' believer in "The Master"? I'm not completely convinced.