Who do the Oscar hopefuls from this year's prestige biopics need to measure up to?
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1. Robert De Niro as Jake LaMotta in "Raging Bull" (1980)
Even the whiniest critics of the Academy’s biopic crush (myself included) can be handily silenced with the mere mention of the year 1980: as if Sissy Spacek’s bait-matching performance weren’t rich enough, she had to share the applause with Robert De Niro’s galvanizing career turn as self-destructive boxer Jake LaMotta in Martin Scorsese’s masterpiece. The legend of De Niro’s method – including his notorious weight gain – now precedes the performance, but it still doesn’t prepare you for its seething, mood-flickering intensity. This isn’t just the gold standard for biopic performances, but for all acting Oscar wins.