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To help whittle down the overflow of acting-award contenders, voters often look for a reason not to nominate someone. What follows is a peek at some award-worthy thesps who have to overcome mitigating factors.

In “W.,” for example, Josh Brolin and James Cromwell have drawn raves for their performances as father-son President Bushes. But does the film itself, with its potentially polarizing reception, provide enough of a launching pad for their work to be recognized and valued over their numerous award rivals?

Meanwhile, Christian Bale might deserve to be more than a darkhorse for “The Dark Knight,” but he faces several obstacles: the wrong genre, a summer release date and the potentially overshadowing presence of his late co-star, Heath Ledger.

Daniel Craig isn’t an obvious Oscar choice this year, but his work has been long respected. A strong performance in Ed Zwick’s “Defiance,” buoyed by his populist turn in “Quantum of Solace,” could get Craig into the conversation — but voters might ask themselves if either role merits putting him into their top five.

Some performers, of course, will benefit from dropping down into the supporting category. “The Duchess” might not have enough oomph to get Keira Knightley a lead actress nom, but it could be just right in generating a supporting tap for Ralph Fiennes. (Fiennes also appears in “The Reader” opposite Kate Winslet.)