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Though everyone who writes about movies year-round aims to go all-out with an end-of-year wrap-up, us included, nobody really does it better than the New York Times. Not only do they have an incredible stable of great writers to tackle everything from Michael Haneke to Taylor Kitsch's flailing career, but they're able to get access to the year's best performers and get them to pose for some truly incredible, slightly insane photographs.

This year the focus goes to the actresses, which is a nice thing to see in a year where everyone keeps claiming, once again, that the field for Oscar's Best Actress is thin. They've rounded up everyone from eight-year-old Quvenzhane Wallis to 84-year-old Emmanuelle Riva for photoshoots that take the year's best actresses in some truly crazy directions. Click on Wallis or the other photographs below to see the full gallery at the Times, and the corresponding article from A.O. Scott that both powerfully argues for the roles for women this year and refers to The Avengers as a "superhero frat party"-- harsh but true.

There are videos to go along with these photos that are even stranger, if you can believe it, with Anne Hathaway's maid trying on some fancy clothes in a hotel room and dancing around with colored paper, Rebel Wilson's mermaid transformation, Naomi Watts's terrifying makeup experiments, and much more. I'm not going to claim that I really know what we're supposed to learn from these videos, but it's totally fascinating to see these actresses removed from narrative-- but of their films and of what we're supposed to know about them personally-- and allowed to get really, artily weird.