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.