Christian Bale for The Fighter
PRO: Respected career balancing respected roles in Empire of the Sun and The Machinist reaches apex with nuanced performance as a meth-addled, prone-to-violence trainwreck. Let's call it meth-od acting.
CON: After on-set blow-ups and fights with his mother and sister, voters wonder if role as a meth-addict on the edge qualifies as acting.
John Hawkes for Winter's Bone
PRO: Meth clearly a theme in this year's awards -- see Bale, above.
CON: Academy more of a cocaine group, really.
Jeremy Renner for The Town.
PRO: Good will left over from The Hurt Locker; steals the film with his twitchy, man-on-the-edge performance.
CON: Boston, blue-collar lowlife vote goes to Bale for losing, what, 300 pounds?, to play some guy who isn't Batman.
Mark Ruffalo for The Kids Are All Right
PRO: Academy loves the idea of a heterosexual guy impregnating two sexy lesbians.
CON: He only actually has sex with one of them.
Geoffrey Rush for The King's Speech
PRO: Having won once before for playing a mentally-ill pianist in Shine, shows his range by playing speech therapist to the king.
CON: In a category teeming with superheroes -- Batman (Bale), the Hulk (Ruffalo, upcoming), and the Avengers' Hawkeye (Renner, upcoming) -- Rush could use some tights to have a better chance of winning.
Amy Adams for The Fighter
PRO: Disney princess-type holds her own as a brassy barmaid.
CON: Splits vote with co-star Melissa Leo; film's catfights too violent even for pervy Academy voters.
Helena Bonham Carter for The King's Speech
PRO: Actress so versatile, she turned in award-worthy performance while simultaneously filming the final two Harry Potter movies; also starred in box-office bonanza Alice in Wonderland the same year.
CON: Doesn't do anything flashy that award-winning supporting actressses usually do: no death scene, no boobs, no stealing a bucket of fried chicken.
Melissa Leo for The Fighter
PRO: Exceptional performance as mother who favors meth-addict son over that nice Mark Wahlberg.
CON: Splits vote with her co-starring hair.
Hailee Steinfeld for True Grit
PRO: Engaging, naturalistic performance by fourteen-year-old could launch a career that includes popular movies and TV shows (like that of eleven-year-old winner Anna Paquin).
CON: It could launch a career that winds up including heroin addiction and arrests for cocaine possession (like that of ten-year-old winner Tatum O'Neal).
Jacki Weaver for The Animal Kingdom
PRO: Well-known Aussie actress in breakout role.
CON: Aussie film few have seen; splits the lioness-protecting-druggie-vote with Leo, plus, seriously, a character named "Smurf?"
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