Alan Alda for The Aviator
PRO: Along with surprising role as Republican presidential candidate in "West Wing," role suggests late-career renaissance for one-time "M*A*S*H star.
CON: Real war in Iraq means this is no time to reward 1970's "Mr. Sensitivity"
Jamie Foxx for Collateral
PRO: Extra goodwill from lead actor nomination for Ray; sizzling performance as cab driver caught up in killing spree
CON: Oscar voters unfamiliar with concept of "cab."
Morgan Freeman for Million Dollar Baby
PRO: After Glory, Driving Miss Daisy, and Shawshank Redemption, he's due.
CON: The "punching Miss Daisy" factor: Academy tired of watching wise man Freeman mentoring shallow white women
Thomas Haden-Church for Sideways
PRO: Kramer-esque character from "Wings" shows incredible range in dark
CON: People still can't remember if he was Ned or Stacey
Clive Owen for Closer
PRO: Only carryover from the Patrick Marber play with everybody-sleeps-with-everybody attractive cast
CON: Wouldn't Brad Pitt, Jennifer Aniston and Angelina Jolie been more fun casting?
Cate Blanchett for The Aviator
PRO: Her Katharine Hepburn would make even Spencer Tracy proud
CON: Win would defy academy rule that no-non-Ian McKellen actor from Lord of the Rings trilogy is allowed to win Academy Award
Laura Linney for Kinsey
PRO: Fantastic as the strong-willed suffering but supportive wife of slightly perverted guy
CON: Hollywood -- unsympathetic to marriages that work -- is surprised that pervert is researcher, not director
Virginia Madsen for Sideways
PRO: Her sultry, sophisticated performance makes her a near-perfect candidate for this year's Diane Lane spot for actresses aging gracefully
CON: Annette Bening may be the perfect candidate
Sophie Okonedo for Hotel Rwanda
PRO: Subtle performance as supportive wife and mother, keeping everything sane while the world falls apart around her; points for previous star turn in Dirty Pretty Things
CON: Suspicion of her as only African-American actress who did not have a fling with Jamie Foxx character in Ray
Natalie Portman in Closer
PRO: The Academy may want to reward her for her amazing work in Garden State
CON: Wasn't amazing work in this; sex between highly attractive mannequins done better in Team America World Police
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