USMagazine, Wednesday, February 22, 2012, 3:05pm (PST)
BFFs George Clooney and Brad Pitt may have their eyes on the 2012 Best Actor Oscar prize, but fellow nominees Demian Bichir, Jean Dujardin and Gary Oldman are also strong contenders for this year's statuette.
As the five men prepare to face off for top honors Sunday, Us Weekly gets to know this year's hottest leading movie males.
DEMIAN BICHIR, A BETTER LIFE Mexican actor Bichir is the Best Actor category's dark horse, vying for a trophy alongside established stars like Clooney and Pitt. Working steadily since the age of 14, Dujardin is "overwhelmed" by his nomination. "Hopefully more and more people will jump into iTunes and Netflix to see our film," Bichir told Us. "That will be the biggest reward we could get. I dedicate this nomination to those 11 million human beings who make our lives easier and better in the U.S."
GEORGE CLOONEY, THE DESCENDANTS Stacy Keibler's man just may walk home a winner Sunday for his role in the drama costarring Shailene Woodley. The Descendants' Clooney has 5 to 6 odds of nabbing the win, according to Johnny Avello, the executive director of race and sports operations at Wynn Las Vegas. Says Us Weekly film critic Bradley Jacobs: "[George] played a grieving dad, he had a big crying scene, he gained a little bit of weight -- everybody loves this role for him."
JEAN DUJARDIN, THE ARTIST Dubbed the French George Clooney, Dujardin is one of France's most bankable stars, thanks in part to his role in the 2011 silent film The Artist, where he brings actor George Valentin to life. "It's a joke. I'm a French actor who's just arrived here! It's very nice, but it's very hard for me to hear such things," Dujardin has quipped of his comparison to Clooney, who advised the French star to learn English last October. "It helps doing all this promotion work in English," Dujardin tells The Hollywood Reporter, "but I also have to promote my next film in France."
GARY OLDMAN, TINKER TAILOR SOLDIER SPY Earning early critical acclaim in films including The Firm, JFK and Dracula, it is 2011's espionage film Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy that garnered Oldman his most recent praise. As he faces off against four other Best Actor contenders, the 30-year film vet says it's just an honor to be nominated by the Academy for the first time in his career. "[Jockeying for a nod] wasn't something calculated, at the beginning: 'Oh, I'm going to go all the way with this, let's go to the Oscars with this,'" the industry vet has said. "I think it just gathered momentum, and I was intrigued and thought, 'Well, I can either get off the track and or continue and see where this goes.' And I'm just determined to just enjoy every minute of it."
BRAD PITT, MONEYBALL Lauded for his role as former Major League Baseball player Billy Beane, Pitt admits that he wouldn't mind losing out to pal Clooney. "It's more fun to have a friend there, and no one does it better than George," Pitt recently told the Today show. "I say give him all the trophies, and when you run out of trophies, make some new ones and give him those, too."
Tell Us: Who should win this year's Best Actor Oscar?