Who: Christian Bale
What: The Machinist
Why: He lost about 60 pounds in making this film, and for those inclined to vote for someone who can completely reshape their body, Bale’s your guy.
Who: Jeff Bridges
What: The Door in the Floor
Why: Bridges is a longtime Academy fave with four noms already on his resume.
Who: Gerard Butler
What: Phantom of the Opera
Why: While he doesn’t get much to do in most of the film except stalk Emmy Rossum, the last 20 minutes proves his Phantom- worthiness.
Who: Jim Caviezel
What: The Passion of the Christ
Why: Going through all those physical hardships must be worth something, no?
Who: Billy Crudup
Popular on Variety
What: Stage Beauty
Why: Actors love to see others play actors, even if it’s from the 17th century.
Who: Thomas Jane
Why: Few saw it, but those who did say Jane was outstanding.
Who: Kevin Kline
Why: His portrayal of Cole Porter captured all the mood swings and eccentricities of the songwriter. Plus, the film was a big hit with older auds.
Who: Bill Murray
What: The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou
Why: Everyone wants Murray to have an Oscar and after missing out with “Lost in Translation,” he’ll be given every opportunity to make the cut.
Who: Al Pacino
What: The Merchant of Venice
Why: Because he’s Al Pacino.
Who: Sean Penn
What: The Assassination of Richard Nixon
Why: Like USC football, he’s still the champ until someone knocks him off.
Who: Adam Sandler
Why: Just for his patience in putting up with Tea Leoni’s character for as long as he did. Come to think of it, even a nom wouldn’t be enough.
Who: Billy Bob Thornton
What: Friday Night Lights
Why: Exhibiting both spit-flying mania on the sidelines and resolute calm off the field, Thornton always manages to impress.
Who: John Travolta
What: A Love Song for Bobby Long
Why: Travolta has starred in so many C-level thrillers that the fact he’s stretching his acting chops might have some resonance.
Who: Denzel Washington
What: The Manchurian Candidate
Why: Though his co-stars — Streep and Schreiber — probably have a better chance, Washington can never be counted out.