Rarely viewed as an 'actor's director,' Malick has nevertheless brought out some great work
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1. Hunter McCracken, “The Tree of Life” (2011)
For “The Tree of Life,” Malick sought out non-actors for most of the characters and gave very little direction (as is his way). In his view, the worst thing you can do is cast someone who is naturally perfect for a particular role and then tell him or her to be someone else. In Hunter McCracken, Malick got a treasure trove of genuine actions and reactions, and I’ll be honest, I surprised myself when I settled on him for the top spot. The young actor was tasked with taking his character, Jack O’Brien, through the awkward years of preadolescence, struggling with a contradictory world (external and internal), balancing aggression and compassion along the way. And, quite frankly, he’s perfect in the role. Pitch perfect.