Want to be nominated for a Best Actor Oscar? Play a man having a midlife crisis. That seems to be the formula for success this year, at least for such leading Academy Awards contenders as George Clooney (pictured, right), Colin Firth, Daniel Day-Lewis, Matt Damon, Clive Owen, Michael Stuhlbarg, and Nicolas Cage.

The Locks: Clooney is the closest thing to a lock in this category, thanks to his much-hyped performance in 'Up in the Air' as a frequent-flying bachelor who's astonished to discover his need for companionship.