Percentage of respondents : In “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button,” Pitt plays a man who ages backwards. As for his appeal to movie fans, “Pitt is competing in a field” where some of the actors aren’t as well-known, Philpott said. “His reputation in Hollywood is pretty clean, too. Angelina received the brunt of negative news with respect to his breakup with Jennifer Aniston.” Philpott said if Pitt were up against some of last year’s nominees, such as George Clooney and Johnny Depp, “he would have ranked lower.” For the BAFTAs, Pitt appeared with Jolie on the red carpet wearing Tom Ford (left). He has two films in post-production: “Inglourious Basterds” and “The Tree of Life,” which also stars number-three-ranked Sean Penn.
There’s something about Richard Nixon that entices the Academy. Both Sir Anthony Hopkins and Langella have now received Oscar nominations for portraying the 37th president. Acclaimed for his stage appearances, movie audiences may remember Langella as Bob Alexander in “Dave” (1993) and as Count Dracula in “Dracula” (1979). Although he’s not famous relative to Pitt or Penn, “Langella is really well-liked in Hollywood,” Philpott said. “He actually may have improved Nixon’s overall image. He’s very charming and doesn’t have a huge body of work, but he stands out in public when he does perform.” Langella won a Tony Award for the same role in the stage version of “Frost/Nixon” in 2007.
This five-time Oscar-nominated actor has come a long way since his days as Jeff Spicoli in “Fast Times at Ridgemont High” (1982). Penn, who won a best actor Oscar in 2004 for “Mystic River,” has been nominated this year for his portrayal of Harvey Milk, a gay rights activist and politician in San Francisco who was assassinated in 1978. He picked up a SAG Award for the role. While Penn is certainly one of Hollywood’s most gifted actors, he is also one of the more outspoken ones, as well: The actor took a three-day trip to Baghdad in December of 2002, and he completed a series of columns for the San Francisco Chronicle during a trip to Iran in 2005. He has been praised by Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez for his critical stance against the war in Iraq.
This is Jenkins’ first Oscar nomination. In the indie film “The Visitor,” he plays a lonely, washed-up college professor whose life changes the instant he discovers two illegal immigrants occupying his New York apartment. “It’s great to see the Academy recognize performances from actors who aren’t always in the spotlight,” Philpott said. “For him to be singled out is huge.” Jenkins played dead patriarch Nathaniel Fisher in HBO’s “Six Feet Under.” Last year, he appeared with George Clooney and Pitt in the Coen brothers film “Burn After Reading.”
“Everyone loves a comeback story, and Mickey Rourke is that story this year,” Philpott said. “Similar to someone like John Travolta, he’s got this second break in his career now. He’s the classic story of an actor who was down-and-out and was resurrected” with his role in “The Wrestler.” Philpott predicted that Rourke’s appeal score will rise after the Academy Awards. Rourke already has taken home a Golden Globe for his performance. In his acceptance speech, Rourke said that it had been a “very long road back,” and that several years ago, he was almost “out of the business” before a new agent began working to revitalize his career.