Richard Jenkins in The Visitor
Frank Langella in Frost/Nixon
Sean Penn in Milk
Brad Pitt in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Mickey Rourke in The Wrestler
Much as we love Mr. Jolie, the makeup and digital effects did as much of the labor as Brad Pitt did in Benjamin Button. The Academy deserves a prize of its own for nominating the reDoubtable character actor Richard Jenkins in his first lead movie role, as the reticent widower in the indie drama The Visitor. But this contest is down to Sean Penn's spot-on embodiment of slain gay-rights leader Harvey Milk and Mickey Rourke's back-from-the-career-grave turn as a ravaged pro Wrestler.
O's Winner Is...
Sean is the safer bet, but we're pulling for a Mickey victory. There won't be a dry eye in the house if his name is called—plus, he might bring one of his chihuahuas on stage with him!
Missing in Action
Philip Seymour Hoffman was drolly great as the dour playwright in Synecdoche, New York, but at least he snagged a place on the Supporting Actor lineup.
All of these performances are still in theaters, save for Jenkins's in The Visitor, now on a no-frills disc.