Best Leading Actor:
JEFF BRIDGES in Crazy Heart
Bridges steps above the relative mediocrity of the film itself, delivering one of his finest performances as the burnt-out Bad Blake. His performance of the songs in the film is as telling as any dialogue could ever be.
Rugged but soulful.
GEORGE CLOONEY in Up in the Air
Clooney treats us to a finely tuned display of minimalist acting, deft comic timing, and deep emotional range in what has to be his best role to date. Ryan Bingham is confident but lost, surrounded by people but alone, and Clooney sells it just right.
SHARLTO COPLEY in District 9
The exceptional makeup work would be nothing without a convincing performance behind it, and that's exactly what Copley gives. As his body changes, so does his paradigm, and that causes him as much fear as his physical transformation.
MATT DAMON in The Informant!
What starts out as seemingly routine comedic performance turns out to be a very subtle and internalized portrayal of a complex psychological condition by the film's end. Kudos to Damon for maintaining intrigue and hilarity simultaneously.
JEREMY RENNER in The Hurt Locker
It is a simply brilliant interpretation of a drug addict in military fatigues. We can read Sgt. James' by the nuance of Renner's performance, from his wonderfully emotive eyes to the way he wiggles his fingers. His very last scenes back in the U.S. are just crushing.
Just Missed: Viggo Mortensen in The Road,
Colin Firth in A Single Man, Michael Stuhlbarg in A Serious Man, Ben Foster in The Messenger.