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For most of the cast who played the cops and criminals on 'The Wire,' the jury is still out -- artistically, that is. Few have been able to find a creative foothold as strong as the one they had with David Simon on HBO. The strength of their "Wire" characters haunts even the most successful of them. (See my interview with Idris Elba.) When Dominic West played Oliver Cromwell on a British mini-series about the English Civil War, the London Independent critic wrote, "Dominic West's Cromwell loitered in Parliament trying not to flash his McNulty grin."

The exception is Amy Ryan. She has made a number of smart choices, but the game-changer was going for broke on Ben Affleck's compelling 2007 directorial debut, "Gone Baby Gone." (That's her in a scene from that movie, left, between the kneeling Ed Harris and the sitting John Aston.) As Dottie, a substance-abusing, neglectful single mother from the rough Boston neighborhood of Dorchester, she embraces her character's abrasiveness.  She quietly crackles when Dottie tells a righteous female sleuth that even in high school Dottie knew she was stuck-up. The performance won her a nomination for the best supporting actor Academy Award.

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Which "Wire" performers are you betting will make their mark in movies?

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