JOSH BROLIN "Milk"
The son of actor James Brolin receives his first Oscar nomination for his role as conservative San Francisco Supervisor Dan White, who assassinated gay Supervisor Harvey Milk and the city's mayor, George Moscone, in 1978. Though passed over for a Golden Globe nod, Brolin, 40, was named best supporting actor by the New York Film Critics Circle and National Board of Review of Motion Pictures and is a Screen Actors Guild contender.
ROBERT DOWNEY JR. "Tropic Thunder"
The 43-year-old earns an Oscar nomination for his comedic turn as an Australian thespian who takes Method acting a bit too far. He was nominated for an Academy Award for lead actor for 1992's "Chaplin." Downey received a Golden Globe nom for "Thunder" and is in contention for the SAG and BAFTA awards.
PHILIP SEYMOUR HOFFMAN "Doubt"
The Oscars have become a habit for the 41-year-old Hoffman. After winning the best actor award for "Capote" (2005), he was nominated for supporting actor for 2007's "Charlie Wilson's War" and now picks up his second supporting nod as a priest suspected of abuse. Nominated for Golden Globe and Critics' Choice awards, Hoffman is also up for SAG and BAFTA awards.
HEATH LEDGER "The Dark Knight"
A year to the day since his death at 28, the Aussie actor earns a nomination for his no-holds-barred turn as Batman's nemesis the Joker. Ledger has won several awards for "Knight," including Los Angeles Film Critics Assn., Critics' Choice and Golden Globe plaudits. He is up for SAG and BAFTA honors. Ledger got a lead actor Oscar nom for 2005's "Brokeback Mountain."
MICHAEL SHANNON "Revolutionary Road"
The Chicago theater actor, 34, is nominated for his terrifyingly honest portrayal of a mathematician who suffered a breakdown. Shannon, who has worked with Chicago's Steppenwolf Theater as well as performed on the London stage, has portrayed complex, often dangerous characters in the films "Bug," "Shotgun Stories" and "Before the Devil Knows You're Dead."
AMY ADAMS "Doubt"
Adams, 34, receives her second nomination in this category, this time for her role as a young nun who doesn't believe her superior's assertion that a priest has abused an altar boy. Adams earned a supporting actress nod for her comedic turn in 2005's "Junebug." The former Hooters waitress was nominated for a Golden Globe and is up for the SAG and BAFTA awards.
PENÉLOPE CRUZ "Vicky Cristina Barcelona"
The 34-year-old Spanish star is up for supporting actress for her comedic turn as Javier Bardem's troublesome ex-wife in Woody Allen's film. Cruz has won National Board of Review of Motion Pictures, Boston Society of Film Critics, L.A. Film Critics Assn. and New York Film Critics Circle awards for her performance. She was nominated for the Golden Globe and is vying for SAG, BAFTA and Spirit awards. She was nominated for a lead actress Oscar for 2006's "Volver."
VIOLA DAVIS "Doubt"
Though she had limited screen time, the 43-year-old makes an indelible impression as an altar boy's mother. Davis, who won a Tony in 2001 for featured actress in August Wilson's "King Hedley II," has received awards from the African-American Film Critics and Black Reel Awards, and was nominated for Critics' Choice and Golden Globe awards. She is also up for the SAG award.
TARAJI P. HENSON "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button"
The 38-year-old Washington, D.C., native, who's appeared in "Talk to Me" and "Hustle and Flow," gets her first Oscar nom for her turn as the adoptive mother of the most unusual Button. Henson has been named best supporting actress by the Austin Film Critics, and was nominated for a Critics' Choice Award. She's also up for an NAACP Image Award and SAG honors.
MARISA TOMEI "The Wrestler"
A supporting actress Oscar winner for her comedic performance in 1992's "My Cousin Vinny," Tomei returns to the roster of supporting nominees for her dramatic role as a stripper who falls for an aging wrestler. Tomei, 44, also nominated in this category for 2001's "In the Bedroom," was up for Critics' Choice and Golden Globe awards for "The Wrestler" and is a BAFTA nominee.
-- Susan KingCopyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun