George Clooney for Syriana
PRO: Big year for TV-actor-turned-movie-star with roles in this and Good Night, and Good Luck. Also directed Good Night and Oscar voters love jacks of all trades.
CON: Two words: Ocean's Thirteen.
Matt Dillon for Crash
PRO: Gives Academy chance to make up for Wild Things snub.
CON: Statuettes rarely given for playing characters as unsympathetic as Dillon's.
Paul Giamatti for Cinderella Man
PRO: Another stellar performance, chance for Academy to make up for overlooking American Splendor and Sideways
CON: Role not weasel-y enough for Giamatti's fanbase; as a boxing coach, he's no Clint Eastwood, Morgan Freeman, or Burgess Meredith.
Jake Gyllenhaal for Brokeback Mountain
PRO: Key role in movie that is biggest cultural phenom since Lord of the Rings or Titanic; only actor in category at the heart of a love story, role meatier than others a result.
CON: Aw, c'mon, make your own meat jokes; besides, awards for cultural phenom movies rarely go to the actors.
William Hurt for A History of Violence
PRO: Has already won NY and LA critical awards for his creepola performance
CON: He's on screen for just ten minutes; it's not an award for Best Cameo.
Amy Adams for Junebug
PRO: Everyone who sees Junebug recognizes Adams' uniquely vulnerable screen presence
CON: Three voters does not an award make.
Catherine Keener for Capote
PRO: Stellar performances in both Capote and The 40 Year-Old Virgin show that she can impress in both art-house and blockbuster films.
CON: Lack of romance between Keener's Harper Lee and Phillip Seymour Hoffman's Capote confusing to Academy voters.
Frances McDormand for North Country
PRO: One of our favorites in strident movie about coal-mine conditions; pity points for poor McDormand, who never gets to make a movie in the Caribbean.
CON: It may be tough for voters to overcome mixed reception of movie; also loses points for teaming with Theron in big-screen debacle Aeon Flux.
Rachel Weisz for The Constant Gardener
PRO: Turn in best movie of the year (rent it before you disagree with us) is practically a lead.
CON: Like similar Kate Winslet turn in last year's Eternal Sunshine, character perhaps a little too abrasive for true romance.
Michelle Williams in Brokeback Mountain
PRO: Puts teenage soap opera Dawson's Creek behind her with deeply affecting turn as wife of closeted gay cowboy; shows her ta-tas.
CON: Since Williams is actually dating her costar Heath Ledger, yelling and disrobing don't qualify as acting.
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