Birthday Special: December-born actors and their best movies to watch this month

From Brad Pitt and Denzel Washington, to Anil Kapoor and Salman Khan—these actors continue to break new ground in the world of cinema with their impressive performances.

Harper's Bazaar India

We’re down to the last month of the year and just like how we’ve kept you cinephiles glued to the screen with movies featuring the stars born over the past 11 months, December is not going to be any different. With a star-studded list of actors who never fail to entertain and engross us—think Brad Pitt, Jake Gyllenhaal, Denzel Washington, Anil Kapoor and Salman Khan. 

Brad Pitt (December 18)

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2008)

Anyone who’s followed Brad Pitt’s career would say that the actor has aged like fine wine. As Benjamin Button, he gets younger by the year and grows smarter and mature with time. Going from an elderly person to an infant, Pitt is the star of the show in this film inspired by F Scott Fitzgerald’s short story by the same name. He put forward a fine display of emotional range and depth that the character required. Despite his body changing over the course of the film, the one thing about Button that remains a constant is his optimistic attitude. The film was nominated for 13 Academy Awards, including Pitt's Best Actor in a Leading Role nomination, and won three.

Moneyball (2011)

Brad Pitt, as Oakland Athletics general manager, Billy Beane, shows us how character stands out in a sea of performances, making it one of the best baseball and sport movies in recent times. Beane uses advanced statistics and limited funds to recruit new players and turn them into world beaters. It’s a crazy plan, based on a true event that changed the game forever. Pitt has his back to the wall as he deals with what seems to be an impossible task (getting the right players at the right price) along with dealing with the difficulties of fatherhood at the same time to come out on top. 

Jake Gyllenhaal (December 19)

Brokeback Mountain (2005)

It’s inarguably Gyllenhaal’s greatest performance till date. He plays Jack Twist, a sheep herder on Wyoming’s Brokeback Mountain in 1963, who finds himself sexually drawn to his colleague Ennis del Mar (Heath Ledger). The film revolves around the duo and how they continue their relationship while keeping it a close-guarded secret from their families. While the two eventually end up marrying women, seeing them bottle up their feelings is beautiful and heartbreaking at the same time. We see the despair and agony that Gyllenhaal’s character goes through as he loves someone in a world and society that will never accept them for who they are. 

Zodiac (2007)

Directed by David Fincher, Zodiac is an adaptation of the novel written by Robert Graysmith who spent years working extensively on the case. The film is set in 1969 in San Francisco where a killer called, the Zodiac communicates with the press and officials through cryptic letters. It’s Graysmith (Gyllenhaal), cartoonist of the San Francisco Chronicle, who develops an interest in a local murder when the killer starts sending taunting notes to the newspaper and begins to develop theories of his own. While many of them are dismissed by other reporters, they catch the attention of one played by Robert Downey Jr., who showcases a range of emotions as he appears innocent and naive at times but also gets down to business when the going gets tough. 

Anil Kapoor (December 24)

Mr. India (1987)

The movie that had it all—action, romance, drama, a heavy dose of science fiction, great music, one of the most iconic villains in Bollywood and a hero with a superpower to bring him to his knees. This Shekhar Kapoor film, that has achieved a cult classic status, was one of the highest-grossing films of that year. Kapoor played Arun, a man with a big heart who takes care of some kids in his home in spite of struggling to make ends meet. His life changes overnight as he discovers an invisibility device made by his scientist father. Little does he know that there’s an evil criminal, who plans to destroy India and wants the device as well. While he was anything but macho, Kapoor, as Arun, packed a punch with his sincerity and kindness that translated into some heavy duty punches when he had to rise to the challenge. 

Nayak (2001)

Being the Chief Minister for a day sounds like a tough task. Certainly not for the actor, who played the role of Shivaji Rao, a cameraman for a news channel, and showed that things can be done right, and in a timely manner as long as one has their heart and intent in the right place. Nayak revolves around the life of Rao who questions the corruption and functioning of the state during an interview with the state CM (played by Amrish Puri). What follows is a fascinating interview where the CM, unable to handle the criticism and questioning, challenges Rao to become the CM for one day. It was one of the first movies that reminded us that we’re the ones responsible for bringing about the change that we want to see. 

Salman Khan (December 27)

Dabangg (2010)

While we’ve been treated to a host of movies that feature actors in the role of a cop, few match up to the dare-devilry that Khan put on display as Chulbul Pandey in this 2010 film. The movie was only made to entertain and it did, in style with action, songs, and drama. And if that wasn’t enough, the actor plays the Robin Hood-like-cop to perfection. If you want to appreciate all things silly and enjoy just what a mainstream masala Bollywood entertainer is, you have to see this one. 

Bajrangi Bhaijaan (2015)

It’s not often that a Salman Khan movie leaves you teary-eyed. Directed by Kabir Khan, this film struck all the right chords as it had the actor win hearts on both sides of the border. Amid all the animosity between India and Pakistan, this feel-good movie and its message was the need of the hour as it had Khan playing the innocent Bajrangi who puts his religious ideologies and beliefs aside to get a young girl back to her home far away in Pakistan. What follows is an endearing tale where he battles through all obstacles. Far from the larger-than-life persona that one sees Khan in most of his movies, this performance was a breath of fresh air as audiences witnessed a side of the actor not seen very often in his films, but one that we surely want to see more of. 

Here are some movies by other stars born in December including Judi Dench, Jennifer Connelly, Jamie Foxx, Denzel Washington, and a couple of others.