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Ryan Gosling - "The Place Beyond the Pines"
Pros: Though Gosling may appear to be the star of Derek Cianfrance's "Blue Valentine" follow-up, the film's surprising narrative structure means Focus will be pushing him in supporting instead -- where his prominence in the film (and as a star in general) gives him some level of advantage. Either way, it's a dynamic performance from an actor that many would agree deserves a follow-up to his 2006 Best Actor nomination. The film, meanwhile, has a growing band of admirers.
Cons: I'm guessing not many of them are in the Academy, however. Released back in the springtime, the film didn't plant very deep roots in theaters, and never really entered the awards conversation. The film skews pretty young, and by now, Gosling's pop-culture standing might hurt him more than it helps with Academy types.