Best Actor

2003 wins: Toronto Film Critics

Oscar pedigree: Won: “Leaving Las Vegas” (1995)

Cage on playing Charlie Kaufman: “I would try and look at his body language and voice. It was more of a mental sketch than something I was going to lock myself down to.”

What we said: “Cage’s dual performances as the twins rep his best work in years. His Charlie is the center of the picture, and thesp wonderfully expresses the character’s forlorn bearing and pathetic self-image; to go along with it, he’s let his ‘Con Air’ hard body go to an opposite extreme of flabby shapelessness.” — Todd McCarthy (Nov. 11)

What the others said: “Nicolas Cage, as the twins, gets so deeply inside their opposite characters that we can always tell them apart even though he uses no tricks of makeup or hair. His narration creates the desperate agony of a man so smart he understands his problems intimately, yet so neurotic he is captive to them.” — Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times

This could be the night: Has any one actor taken on two characters in the same film and pulled it off this well?

Then comes the rub: The quirkiness of the pic might not provide the heft Cage needs to win.

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