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The Daily Beast recently posted an exclusive report naming the four candidates still competing for the role of Lisbeth Salander in David Fincher's English-language adaptation of "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo." (Click here for the excellent coverage by Gina Piccalo and Claire Martin.)

Although two are not really newcomers or total "unknowns," neither was the sensational Noomi Rapace, at least in her native Sweden, when she made this one-of-a-kind woman warrior her own in the Swedish film versions of Stieg Larsson's Millennium Trilogy.

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The relatively experienced performers in the running are France's Lea Seydoux, who has appeared in international films like Ridley Scott's "Robin Hood" and French auteur pieces like Catherine Breillat's "The Last Mistress," and America's Rooney Mara, who starred in the 2009 remake of "Nightmare on Elm Street" and has a sizable role in Fincher's forthcoming "The Social Network."

The other candidates in Fincher's final four are two green Australians, Sophie Lowe and Sarah Snook.

My bet would be on Rooney Mara.

Fincher's reputation as a visual stylist has overwhelmed any recognition of his power with performers. But he's a real actor's director. The evidence is all over films like "Zodiac" and "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button." And it was a treat to watch his attentive work with Jesse Eisenberg and Andrew Garfield while they were shooting scenes for "The Social Network" at Johns Hopkins last fall. Daniel Craig has already been confirmed to play Fincher's Mikael Blomkvist. Anyone who has seen the full range of Craig's movie and TV work (especially his role in Roger Michell's "The Mother") knows that this is a spectacular choice.

If Fincher thought enough of Mara's talent and achievement on "The Social Network" to consider her for "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo," I'd say she has to have the inside track -- as long as she can fit Larsson's description of the taut, withdrawn, haunted and haunting, oddly charismatic Salander.

That's Mara, above, in the only still I could find in the Sun archives, from a suitably creepy scene in the "Nightmare on Elm Street" remake.  From the neck up, she looks plausible. What do you think?

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