CULTURE POP: SPOTLIGHT ON: OSCAR'S BEST ACTORS

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AND THE OSCAR GOES TO: Not taking anything away from the acting prowess of Robert Duvall, Peter Fonda or Jack Nicholson (Matt Damon was not measured, given his recent ascent to celeb status), but Dustin Hoffman's personality is all too winning. The man who has played roles from a gimpy con man named Ratso to a man disguised as a woman in "Tootsie" is more recognizable and fun than his Oscar rivals.

While Mr. Nicholson is more cool, unique and intriguing, both he and "Easy Rider" co-star Mr. Fonda crash and burn in the trustworthy category. All four flunk out in sexiness.

Mr. Fonda's long-dormant career lowered his media profile. Mr. Duvall rates above average in many categories, but not so well in key areas like recognition, stylish, fun and sexy. And while Mr. Nicholson is not hurting for awareness, he has acquired some baggage after years of being more stylish, fun, sexy and just Jackish in general.

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