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Caine, De Niro, Damon rack up honorary awards

Influential, hugely talented and durable performers with contrasting acting styles, ages and backgrounds -- Michael Caine, Robert De Niro and Matt Damon -- have been racking up more timeless honors than the usual acting prizes this awards season. Michael Caine was just made a Commander of Arts and Letters in France. Robert De Niro will receive the Cecil B. DeMille Award at the Golden Globes this month and then serve as president of the Cannes Film Festival jury in May. And next week the Broadcast Film Critics Association will present Damon with its Joel Siegel Award, honoring his civic and charitable work. (Damon has received two of the group's Critics' Choice awards and five nominations in the past.)

They share one quality that should be celebrated more often in our best performers. They all combine art and industry. Caine may have slowed down a bit since his hyperactive peak, but in this year's "Harry Brown" he showed he hadn't lost an iota of his potency. De Niro may descend to vehicles like "Little Fockers," but when he works for a director like Barry Levinson in "What Just Happened" or John Curran in "Stone," he can still rise to the occasion. And just this year, Damon made his presence felt not only in the exciting "Green Zone" and the engrossing "True Grit," but also as the narrator of the splendid documentary, "Inside Job." (Let me tactfully pass over "Hereafter.") Caine, De Niro and Damon all keep busy: they never let their acting muscles atrophy.

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Photos: Caine by Pascal Le Segretain; De Niro by Carlo Allegri; Damon by Evan Agostini

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