Linda Blair, at just 12 years old, played the demon-possessed Regan MacNeil in the 1973 film The Exorcist, still widely considered one of the scariest movies ever. Warner Bros./AP hide caption

itoggle caption Warner Bros./AP

In Dallas Buyers Club, Jared Leto plays Rayon, a transgender woman who is HIV-positive and struggling with a drug habit. "I always saw Rayon as someone who wanted to live ... life as a woman, not just someone who enjoyed putting on women's clothing," Leto says. Anne Marie Fox/Focus Features hide caption

itoggle caption Anne Marie Fox/Focus Features

At 17 years old, Sari Math has left his father behind to work on a Chinese-owned cassava plantation. Faced with an ever-diminishing catch, he and his father could no longer support themselves by fishing alone. Migrant Films hide caption

itoggle caption Migrant Films

Tom Hanks stars in Captain Phillips, a film that's recently been subject to a "whisper campaign" of pre-Oscars criticism. Hopper Stone/Hopper Stone, SMPSP hide caption

itoggle caption Hopper Stone/Hopper Stone, SMPSP

Chiwetel Ejiofor plays Solomon Northup, a free black man in upstate New York who was kidnapped into slavery in 1841 and won his freedom 12 years later. The film 12 Years a Slave is an adaptation of Northup's 1853 memoir. Jaap Buitendijk/Fox Searchlight hide caption

itoggle caption Jaap Buitendijk/Fox Searchlight

12 Years a Slave, starring Chiwetel Ejiofor, is based on an 1853 memoir by Solomon Northup, a free black man in upstate New York who was kidnapped into slavery in 1841. Jaap Buitendijk/Fox Searchlight hide caption

itoggle caption Jaap Buitendijk/Fox Searchlight

In the new film adaptation of Twelve Years A Slave, Chiwetel Ejiofor plays Solomon Northup, a black man who was kidnapped and sold into slavery in 1841. Jaap Buitendijk/Fox Searchlight Pictures hide caption

itoggle caption Jaap Buitendijk/Fox Searchlight Pictures

Lupita Nyong'o and Chiwetel Ejiofor play Patsey and Solomon, two slaves on a Louisiana plantation, in 12 Years a Slave. Francois Duhamel/Fox Searchlight Pictures hide caption

itoggle caption Francois Duhamel/Fox Searchlight Pictures

Helena Bonham Carter plays Elizabeth Taylor in Burton and Taylor, a BBC America movie that focuses on the famous couple's stint acting together on Broadway in 1983. Leah Gallo/BBC hide caption

itoggle caption Leah Gallo/BBC

Alan Rickman tells NPR's Arun Rath he wasn't familiar with CBGB or the punk scene until he began working on the film. Beau Giann/XLrator Media hide caption

itoggle caption Beau Giann/XLrator Media

Ahmed Hassan is the leader of the group of young Egyptian revolutionaries at the center of The Square. Noujaim Films hide caption

itoggle caption Noujaim Films

Daniel Radcliffe tells Fresh Air that his parents were initially hesitant about letting him play Harry Potter. Warwick Saint hide caption

itoggle caption Warwick Saint

Prior to filming, director Paul Greengrass kept the pirate crew and the boat crew separate to make the hijacking scenes feel more authentic. "The hair did stand up on the back of our heads," says Tom Hanks, above. Hopper Stone, SMPSP hide caption

itoggle caption Hopper Stone, SMPSP