Pros and cons of Oscar's nominated actors
Pros: With four previous nominations and zero wins, Bridges is long overdue. He swept the Golden Globes, SAG and Broadcast Critics trophies. Plus, he sings and plays guitar.
Cons: Bridges is a heavy favorite but the film failed to score a best picture nom.
"Up in the Air"
Pros: A classic movie-star performance can never be underestimated. Previous win for supporting actor for "Syriana" (2005) shows the Academy is a fan.
Cons: Critics complain Clooney doesn't show as much range as some other nominees.
"A Single Man"
Pros: The film is built around his showcase performance, with several Oscar-bait scenes of death and loss.
Cons: Firth's first Oscar nomination; so far this season he has several nominations but no major wins.
Pros: Could benefit from the "Gandhi" syndrome: Voters have a chance to endorse Nelson Mandela as well as Freeman's nuanced portrayal.
Cons: He's already won the "career acknowledgement" Oscar (supporting actor for "Million Dollar Baby" in 2005) and "Invictus" failed to score a best picture nom.
"The Hurt Locker"
Pros: Could ride a "Hurt Locker" wave if it wins picture and director.
Cons: Wasn't even nominated by the Globes.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
Pros: By far the biggest star in his category; plus, he hasn't won an Oscar since 1998--and it was for writing ("Good Will Hunting," shared with Ben Affleck), not acting.
Cons: The film lost momentum when it was snubbed for a best picture nom; Morgan Freeman's is the showier performance.
Pros: His work this year in commercial hits "Zombieland" and "2012" made this indie character study stand out even more.
Cons: Little-seen film; came up short with SAG and the Globes.
"The Last Station"
Pros: The acting legend's first Oscar nomination. At 80, Plummer isn't likely to have many more chances.
Cons: He's always kept his distance from Hollywood (he even trashed "The Sound of Music").
"The Lovely Bones"
Pros: Tucci has never been nominated before. His portrait of a serial killer contrasts nicely with his lighter performance in this year's "Julie & Julia."
Cons: "Bones" is regarded as one of the year's major critical disappointments.
Pros: He's been the heavy favorite since he nabbed the best actor prize at Cannes in May. Great villains often win in this category (see Javier Bardem in 2008's "No Country for Old Men").
Cons: Possible awards overkill might lead voters to believe they don't need to vote for him.