Supporting actor dark horses

Who: Kevin Bacon
What: Mystic River
Why: A solid and effective Bacon had to play off against Tim Robbins, whose character was much more charismatic.

Who: Brendan Gleeson
What: Cold Mountain
Why: With fiddle in hand, Gleeson offered hope — both musically and emotionally — to Nicole and Renee in difficult times.

Who: Gene Hackman
What: Runaway Jury
Why: Few people do evil as well as Hackman; his chewing off scenery here was what made the film memorable.

Who: Djimon Hounsou
What: In America
Why: His perf as a man dying of AIDS gave the film a second act and someone for the kids to play with.

Who: Eugene Levy
What: A Mighty Wind
Why: Levy always shines in these Christopher Guest “mockumentaries” and his mentally disturbed Mitch was another perfect-pitched perf.

Who: Wentworth Miller
What: The Human Stain
Why: A virtual unknown, many believe he stole the pic from Anthony Hopkins.

Who: Geoffrey Rush
What: Pirates of the Caribbean
Why: Offered just the right villainous touch to offset Johnny Depp’s comic musings.

Who: Peter Sarsgaard
What: Shattered Glass
Why: Probably the hottest of this group, Sarsgaard has racked up a few critics group kudos as an editor who knows when he’s getting snowballed.

Who: Andy Serkis
What: The Lord of the Rings:The Return of the King
Why: Though his perf was CGI enhanced, Serkis’ gave Gollum a certain, um, precious, quality.

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