An early look at the possible best actor race

Leonardo DiCaprio
(“Revolutionary Road”)

  • Has received three previous Oscar nominations (“What’s Eating Gilbert Grape,” “The Aviator,” “Blood Diamond”)
  • Reteams with “Titanic” co-star Kate Winslet in this pic. “Titanic,” directed by James Cameron, is the highest-grossing film of all time.
  • Will be seen in Martin Scorsese’s “Shutter Island” next October.

Richard Jenkins
(“The Visitor”)

  • No previous Oscar nomination.
  • Worked on three Coen brothers films: “Burn After Reading,” “Intolerable Cruelty” and “The Man Who Wasn’t There.”
  • Though he had been acting for 20 years, he became much more recognized following his turn in HBO’s “Six Feet Under.”

Frank Langella
(“Frost/Nixon”)

  • No previous Oscar nomination.
  • Earned a Tony Award in 2007 for playing the same role on Broadway, and is currently back on the Gotham stage playing Sir Thomas More in “A Man for All Seasons.”
  • Received stellar reviews in last year’s indie “Starting Out in the Evening,” co-starring Lauren Ambrose.

Sean Penn
(“Milk”)

  • Has won one Oscar (“Mystic River”) and received three other noms (“Dead Man Walking,” “Sweet and Lowdown,” “I Am Sam”)
  • Is the only actor other than Woody Allen to receive a best actor nomination in a Woody Allen pic (“Sweet and Lowdown”).
  • This would be his first nomination for playing a real-life character.

Brad Pitt
(“The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”)

  • Oscar-nominated for “Twelve Monkeys.”
  • Starred in two other David Fincher films: “Seven” and “Fight Club.”
  • Heads up his charity foundation Make It Right, an org focused on rebuilding New Orleans’ devastated 9th Ward.

Mickey Rourke
(“The Wrestler”)

  • No previous Oscar nomination.
  • Is longtime friends with Bruce Springsteen, whom he asked to write a song for the film.
  • Had an incredible run in the early 1980s with “Body Heat,” “Diner,” “Rumble Fish” and “The Pope of Greenwich Village.”

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