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Best Supporting Actor

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You can’t exactly call them new faces, but in this year’s category, veterans are doing such surprising work that they might as well be making their debuts. Heading the list is Gandhi Oscar winner BEN KINGSLEY, whose violent gangster in Sexy Beast is a juicy image makeover. JON VOIGHT’s unexpectedly resonant turn as Howard Cosell in Ali could net the actor his fourth nod. After 60-odd movies, New York critics’ prizewinner STEVE BUSCEMI might add an Oscar nomination to his resume for his definitive lonely guy in Ghost World. And though we won’t soon forget JIM BROADBENT’s rendition of ”Like a Virgin” in Moulin Rouge, it’s his touching turn as the elderly John Bayley in Iris that Oscar will notice (he’s already been honored by the L.A. critics and the National Board of Review).

IAN McKELLEN could ride a Lord of the Rings sweep to a nomination — likewise ED HARRIS for A Beautiful Mind, though he may be hurt by the nature of his role — but since the average age of these contenders is already 54, how about some new blood? We like the chances of HAYDEN CHRISTENSEN, the troubled teen of Life As a House, who, at 20, is the same age Timothy Hutton was when he won an Oscar for Ordinary People. If not him, there’s 29-year-old JUDE LAW, who had a grand time as a literal boy toy in A.I. Even BEN STILLER, a relative elder at 36, would lower the average with a nod as the tracksuited overachiever of The Royal Tenenbaums. On the other hand, wouldn’t it be fun to see Ocean’s Eleven’s CARL REINER enter the winner’s circle at 80 with his first nomination?

For your consideration

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For your consideration

When TONY SHALHOUB reteamed with Barton Fink filmmakers Joel and Ethan Coen for The Man Who Wasn’t There, he nearly pilfered the film. As a fast-talking lawyer, he brings bursts of verbal color to a decidedly black-and-white world.