Leonardo DiCaprio, Joaquin Phoenix and Matthew McConaughey: Favorite Male Movie Performances (PHOTOS)

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P.T. Anderson's latest is brilliant and complex.
Transformation is always a common quality that great actors seem to share, but in 2012, the one that seemed to dominate the year’s best performances was reinvention.

While Matthew McConaughey revived his career with a series of terrific – and different — turns in movies big and small, his Magic Mike co-star Channing Tatum proved that he could hold his own not just as a heartthrob, but as a bona fide actor.

Meanwhile, even the famously gifted Leonardo DiCaprio showed a different side of himself, having a bit of fun as a gloriously cruel plantation owner in Django Unchained, even as The Master’s Joaquin Phoenix reminded viewers that he doesn’t simply play his characters, he becomes them.

Celebuzz has assembled a shortlist of the year’s best male performances, taking into account not just great acting, but the context of their work – what they’ve done in the past – and where they’re doing it.

Which is why Michael Sheen’s over-the-top turn as Aro in The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 2 stands side by side with Phoenix and DiCaprio’s work: the gifted English actor gave such a flourish to his role that it stood out even more.

Then of course there’s the dark horses, those off-the-radar turns that earned accolades in critical circles but skirted mainstream attention because of subject matter that was simply too sophisticated for most.

Who made the list? Check out Celebuzz’ gallery of Favorite Male Performances above, and then below the trailer for Django Unchained, let us know whose acting impressed you the most. Or even better, who you think should have made this list that didn’t!

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