Best actor dark horses

Who: Hayden Christensen
What: Shattered Glass
Why: Take away “Attack of the Clones” and this is a nice addition to an increasingly impressive resume.

Who: Paddy Considine
What: In America
Why: All the other thesps from this feel-good film are being considered but it was Considine who held the family together.

Who: Peter Dinklage
What: The Station Agent
Why: Dinklage’s solitary, stoic perf adroitly steered the film’s ensemble through both comedic and dramatic waters.

Who: Robert Downey Jr.
What: The Singing Detective
Why: When he has his life together, Downey is one of the most talented guys around.

Who: Chiwetel Ejiofor
What: Dirty Pretty Things
Why: Miramax sold this as an Audrey Tautou movie, but it’s Ejiofor who steals every scene.

Who: Tommy Lee Jones
What: The Missing
Why: Whether it’s in “The Fugitive,” “Men in Black” or this Ron Howard-directed Western, Jones is always chasing somebody. And, to his credit, he usually catches ’em.

Who: William H. Macy
What: The Cooler
Why: He’s hot. After winning big at the Emmys with “Door to Door,” Macy’s loser routine was the perfect antidote to Alec Baldwin’s tough guy casino boss.

Who: Tobey Maguire
What: Seabiscuit
Why: Trying to stay in character while riding a horse — and not falling off — was a difficult task.

Who: Ewan McGregor
What: Big Fish
Why: He brought just the right sense of whimsy to Tim Burton’s beautiful pictures.

Who: Omar Sharif
What: Monsieur Ibrahim
Why: Out of the spotlight for many years, Sharif’s last and only nom came 41 years ago in “Lawrence of Arabia.” And the Acad loves to honor the true veterans of the bigscreen.

Who: Billy Bob Thornton
What: Bad Santa
Why: Somewhere in the dark souls of all of us, there’s a place for a foul-tempered, cussing Kris Kringle.

Who: Elijah Wood
What: The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
Why: While Peter Jackson may deservedly get most of the accolades, it was Wood who led the charge to Mordor and was the central character of the trilogy.

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