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Barkhad Abdi - "Captain Phillips"
Pros: Oscar season loves a Cinderella story and first-time actor Barkhad Abdi, a Somali native who escaped Mogadishu and ended up in Minneapolis before he randomly answered a casting call one day for a Tom Hanks movie, fits that bill this year. Not only that but opposite movie star Hanks, Abdi nearly steals the film with a portrait of desperation and one that elicits empathy.
Cons: At the same time, being new to the scene can work against you in a business where everyone votes for their friends. And in a category so booming with possibilities, great work will inevitably go unnoticed.