- Steve Coogan, Tristram Shandy: A Cock and Bull Story
- Leonardo DiCaprio, Blood Diamond
- Vin Diesel, Find Me Guilty
- Will Ferrell, Stranger Than Fiction
- Patrick Wilson, Hard Candy
- Christian Bale & Hugh Jackman, The Prestige -- a marvelous double act. Bale and Jackman play off each other beautifully, impeccably navigating every twist and turn of the complicated story -- and of the complicated relationship between their characters.
- Peter O'Toole, Venus -- Maurice's obsession with a woman 50 years younger could easily have become too creepy for words, but O'Toole never allows the fascination to be just about sex; it's about the eternal appeal of youth, the thrill of the chase, and the actor's unending need to be loved. And of course, it's about the legend of Peter O'Toole; the same role in the hands of an unknown wouldn't have been nearly as heartbreaking.
- Clive Owen, Children of Men -- one of the greatest acting challenges: playing a man who's almost completely shut down his own emotions and personality. Owen makes Theo's transformation and re-awakening convincing, and doesn't give in to the temptation to overstate it; the changes in Theo are large enough to be noticed, small enough to be believed.
And the winner:
- Aaron Eckhart, Thank You for Smoking -- I could easily have gone with O'Toole or Owen, but we don't pay enough attention to comic acting, and Eckhart's work here is top-notch. He's perfectly cast as the smooth-talking spinmeister; you can see the wheels turning as his mind races to stay one step ahead of his mouth in each of his many verbal duels.