Why: The film’s late arrival makes the thesp race a bit of a mystery, but the serious nature of the story demands that everyone take notice.
Pic: “The Matador”
Why: Bond no more, Brosnan is wonderfully eccentric here as a friendless assassin. It’s a gutsy role that generates both comedy and sympathy. Cillian Murphy
Pic: “Breakfast on Pluto”
Why: Cross-dressing is a sure-fire way to get Acad attention. Whether that’s enough of a gimmick to make it on the short list, however, remains to be seen. Bill Murray
Pic: “Broken Flowers”
Why: After losing out in “Lost in Translation,” Murray is one of those whose time will come sooner rather than later, but “Flowers” was so quiet he probably won’t make a ripple here. Tom Wilkinson
Pic: “Separate Lies”
Why: It’s no secret the Oscars have a thing for Brits, and Wilkinson, nommed for his portrait of a vengeful father in “In the Bedroom,” is always a worthy choice.