We're breaking down all the Oscar contenders for you, so that you can decide whether you want to see them -- or at the very least, hold your own at cocktail parties. Today: indie immigration drama 'The Visitor,' which was helmed by Tom McCarthy, acclaimed director of 'The Station Agent.'

The VisitorNominated for: Best Actor (Richard Jenkins)

What It's About:
Walter (Jenkins) is a lonely widower and professor who one day discovers two illegal immigrants squatting in his vacant apartment. Reluctantly, he allows them to stay and eventually befriends them, especially Tarek, a Syrian musician who teaches Walter how to play the African drums. When Tarek is seized and faces deportation, Walter finds himself fighting to help his new friend with a passion he hasn't felt in years.

Why You Should See It: Jenkins is a character actor who's long flown under the radar; you may know him as either Dead Dad Nathaniel on 'Six Feet Under' or as the dad in his other movie of 2008, the comedy 'Step Brothers,' a movie that's exactly ... OK, not even remotely like this one. Here, Jenkins finally gets the chance to shine, and he's terrific as a man who's reserved, cranky and mostly dead inside until a stranger introduces him to the meaning of joy (via drumming). As a bonus, you'll be so moved by the complex situation of many U.S. immigrants that you just may run out and adopt one yourself.

It's Kind of Like:'Drumline' meets 'Gran Torino'

How You Can See It: Available on DVD now