Philip Seymour Hoffman for Capote
PRO: Golden Globe winner; Academy ready to reward critical darling in films ranging from Boogie Nights to Almost Famous.
CON: If he wins for playing a bitchy queen, voters fear a riot from Judi Dench.
Terence Howard for Hustle and Flow
PRO: He's the "It" actor of the year with strong performances in this, the nominated-even-though-a-summer-movie Crash, and Four Brothers.
CON: Now every pimp is going to have a script to show Hollywod dealmakers. Can't an exec just pay for sex without a deal memo anymore?
Heath Ledger for Brokeback Mountain
PRO: Former pretty boy actor mumbles his way into audience's hearts as a tortured man wrestling with his sexuality.
CON: Pro-Gyllenhaal faction ready to quit him.
Joaquin Phoenix for Walk the Line
PRO: Like last year's winning role in Ray, except it's shorter, the guy can see, and the man's IN black.
CON: May split cowboy love interest vote with co-nominee Ledger.
David Straithairn for Good Night, and Good Luck
PRO: Veteran actor great in dozens of John Sayles movies (Return of the Secaucus 7, Matewan, Passion Fish) finally gets his due.
CON: He plays a real guy (TV celebrity Edward R. Murrow) but he doesn't deal with drug addiction or sing or turn out to be gay.
Judi Dench for Mrs. Henderson Presents
PRO: There is nothing like this Dame. Hollywood royalty with previous win for Shakespeare in Love.
CON: Movie about prim-and-proper proprietor of a burlesque house so cliched even our 75-year-old parents didn't want to see it.
Felicity Huffman for Transamerica
PRO: Best possible choice for this role. There were transgended actors considered but they were between assignments.
CON: Loyalties are split by the title alone: Hollywood loves transgendered people, but hates America.
Keira Knightley for Pride and Prejudice
PRO: Pirates of the Caribbean star makes Disney Lohan-level bucks without Lohan-level embarassment. This Jane Austen old-fashioned costume drama a nice change from this year's crop of roles (no offense, Felicity!).
CON: Empire waist not good look on red carpet.
Charlize Theron for North Country
PRO: We know voters love this rabble-rousing union organizer role because Sally Field has already won for it.
CON: What a loudmouth. Can't she just sleep with a tennis coach (see Laura Linney, The Squid and the Whale; Scarlet Johannson, Match Point).
Reese Witherspoon for Walk the Line
PRO: June Carter a fantastic gift for an actress in a year when there aren't great roles for women; if she wins an Oscar perhaps we won't have to suffer thru Legally Blonde III.
CON: Where's the weight gain that shows Oscar range? Didn't dirty herself up for cute-as-a-button role.
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