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Don’t look to the Golden Globe nominees for the full picture of Best Supporting Actor contenders. Even though CHRISTOPHER PLUMMER and JOHN MALKOVICH are noticeably absent from the Globe’s roster, their vivid spins on real people—Plummer as 60 Minutes vet Mike Wallace in The Insider and Malkovich as himself (duh) in Being John Malkovich — should land both of them in this year’s most crowded Oscar race, especially since they’ve split most of the critics’ awards. In the definitely-not-playing-himself department, two-time nominee TOM CRUISE gives a performance in Magnolia (as a potty-mouthed sex guru) that’s too remarkable a departure to escape notice. The rest of the category is filled with pairs of contenders from the same movie: From The Talented Mr. Ripley, JUDE LAW‘s more sizable role as perfect specimen Dickie Greenleaf gives him the edge over PHILIP SEYMOUR HOFFMAN (though Hoffman did score a dual-performance supporting-actor award from the National Board of Review for Ripley and Magnolia). The Cider House RulesMICHAEL CAINE — who won in this category for 1986’s Hannah and Her Sisters — has the edge over costar DELROY LINDO. Other teams may suffer from the dreaded cancel-out syndrome: American Beauty‘s dysfunctional father-son pair CHRIS COOPER and WES BENTLEY; The Green Mile duo MICHAEL CLARKE DUNCAN and DOUG HUTCHISON; and Three Kings soldiers MARK WAHLBERG and ICE CUBE. 1989 nominee MAX VON SYDOW (Pelle the Conqueror) enjoyed pre-release buzz for his speech-heavy performance in Snow Falling on Cedars, but Scott Hicks’ film has created something less than an avalanche. And EDDIE MURPHY‘s deserving double turn in Bowfinger was probably released too early in the year. Which might mean that dead man’s best friend HALEY JOEL OSMENT, from The Sixth Sense (granted, also a summer release), could easily fill the last slot. Let’s just hope he comes to the ceremony alone.

For Your Consideration

He weathered Al Pacino’s gusty speeches and Oliver Stone’s tempestuous tempo. In fact, JAMIE FOXX seemed to thrive on the sound and fury of Any Given Sunday as a rookie pro football player seduced by stardom and clipped by ego. Foxx ran with the role, surprisingly adept at drama for a guy whose body of work till now has been limited mostly to TV comedy. And speaking of bodies, his worked.