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Michael Fassbender, 'Shame' and 'A Dangerous Method'

You likely first saw Michael Fassbender as the cheeky Lt. Archie Cox in "Inglorious Basterds" or as Erik Lehnsherr/Magneto in this summer's "X-Men: First Class." But it's the latter part of this year when the 34-year-old Irish-bred actor will come into his own with two big acting showcases: as sex addict Brandon in the NC-17-rated "Shame" (out Dec. 16) and as Carl Jung opposite Viggo Mortensen's Sigmund Freud in "A Dangerous Method (Jan. 13). Fassbender, just named one of GQ's Men of the Year, is getting serious Oscar buzz for "Shame," which features lots of full-frontal nudity, which he told the Los Angeles Times is "an all right thing." "II think it's unusual that a lot of violent films seem to pass through the system easily enough," he continued. "But whenever you sort of try to question or deal with sex, it becomes something that's dirty or not to be watched — so I find that to be confusing." Clearly, we need more actors like Fassbender — unafraid to bare his soul (and other parts).

Future plans: Currently has three projects slated for release next year: Steven Soderbergh's "Haywire"; the Ridley Scott thriller "Prometheus"; and an untitled film from Jim Jarmusch. After the director mentioned him has a favorite, Fassbender has also recently said that potentially playing the lead in a proposed "RobooCop" reboot "could be kind of fun," adding to his awesomeness.

Shailene Woodley, 'The Descendants'

Call it the George Clooney Golden Touch. In "Up in the Air," Clooney became a fan of co-star Anna Kendrick, at that point best known for the "Twilight" films. Kendrick scored an Oscar nom. Now in "The Descendants, out Nov. 23, his co-star is Woodley, best known for playing a teen mom on ABC Family's "The Secret Life of the American Teenager." And yup, Oscar buzz again. "What stood out to me was how messy and raw and human the script was," Woodley, who just turned 20, told Newsweek about her "Descendants role." In Alexander Payne's follow-up to "Sideways," Woodley plays Clooney's daughter Alex, a heavy-drinking 17-year-old who returns home to Hawaii after her mother falls into a coma. Payne had never seen Woodley on "Secret Life," but said her audition against hundreds of other actresses blew him away. Though she has said it was hard to relate to her troubled character, Woodley was attracted to the challenge. "For some reason I'm always drawn to very dramatic kind of dysfunctional roles, and I think subconsciously it might be my own therapy session," she said during a roundtable interview last month.

Future plans: More "Secret Life of the American Teenager"

Jean Dujardin, 'The Artist'

"The Artist" is a tough sell: It's a French romance set in the 1920s and 1930s. It's in black-and-white. And it's silent. So much credit goes to its lead, 39-year-old veteran French actor Dujardin, for the film's enduring crowd-pleasing popularity this year — he won Best Actor at this year's Cannes Film Festival and is considered by many the current front-runner for the Best Actor Oscar. In "The Artist," which does not have a set Baltimore release date, the suave Dujardin, the son of a metalworker from suburban Paris, plays a famous silent-film actor facing a career threat from talking pictures. He tap dances, romances and has a cute-dog sidekick. And he masters the art of the silent film. ""It's pretty comfortable. [Usually] the silence on set can be pretty heavy — when you hear 'Camera! Action!' It can be inhibiting," Dujardin told Newsweek. "But here the fact the sound continues, the sound of the extras, the city, it's almost less like cinema. You can quickly get caught up in it. It's very alive."

Future plans: He has just signed on for next year's spy flick "Mobius" and is rumored to co-star with Juliette Binoche in 2013's "A Stormy Summer Night"

Andrea Riseborough, 'W.E'

"W.E." has been critically slammed at film festivals — Madonna directed it after all — but one thing has remained constant in even the harshest reviews: star Andrea Riseborough is stunning as 1930s Baltimore socialite Wallis Simpson, who lived in relative exile with Edward, Prince of Wales after he abdicated the throne to marry her. "She's a figure a lot of people think they understand," Riseborough, 30, told the Los Angeles Times. "And what was tantalizing to me was the chance to correct that." Riseborough, familiar to U.S. audiences through small roles in films such as "Never Let Me Go" and "Happy-Go-Lucky, is admired as a captivating and intense actress in her native England, where she won raves playing a young Margaret Thatcher in 2008 BBC drama "The Long Walk to Finchley." Despite her experience, there was one aspect of "W.E.," release date TBD, that she had to get used to — wearing 72 dresses throughout the film. "There were pieces that I was wearing that were worn by the Duchess herself, that were evoking her spirit in some sense," she told the U.K.'s Telegraph.

Future plans: She has wrapped filming on two films for next year — "Welcome to the Punch" with James McAvoy and thriller "Shadowdancer" with Clive Owen.

Adepero Oduye, "Pariah"

It has been a five-year "Pariah" journey for Adepero Oduye. In 2006, she writer-director Dee Rees cast her in her short film "Pariah," about a teen in Brookyn, N.Y., coming to terms with her homosexuality. She made such an impression that producers demanded she return for the feature-film version, which earned acclaimed at Sundance this year. "It's so cool to be part of a story that hasn't been told yet," Oduye, 33, told The Hollywood Reporter. "Many people have told me they've finally seen something similar to their lives shown on the screen. It's a very special thing." "Pariah," tentatively scheduled for a Jan. 20 Baltimore release date, is truly a breakthrough for the Brooklyn native, who stated going on acting auditions after graduating pre-med from Cornell University. "Pariah" is Oduye's first big feature film role, playing Alike, a teen struggling with her identity and torn between conservative parents and her openly gay best friend. "There was a moment on set where I was waiting for them to finish a setup and I had a moment in my heart where I was like, 'Wow, this is what I born to do,'" Oduye told "It was so clear and quiet."

Future plans: Nothing yet, but Oduye told that her "intention is to do more films in ["Pariah's"] vein. As long as it's good writing and good work, we'll see."

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