As we enter November, the Oscars can’t be too far off. This famous awards ceremony honors movies released during the calendar year, meaning that some actors have multiple films eligible. Jude Law released a mammoth six films back in 2004, three of which earned Oscar attention, though not for his performances. Academy rules don’t permit an actor to receive two nominations in the same category, but earning one lead and one supporting mention is permissible.

Often, a big year for an actor with one knockout movie role might lead to two nominations, even if the second is undeserved. For instance, was Jamie Foxx really Oscar-worthy in Collateral or was he nominated smiply because Ray also came out that year? (He hasn’t been nominated since). The last time Al Pacino was nominated for an Oscar, and the first time he won, was in 1992, for his lead role in Scent of a Woman. A supporting nod for Glengarry Glen Ross came along with it, and it’s hard to argue that Pacino deserved it over his cast mates Jack Lemmon, Alan Arkin, Ed Harris, Jonathan Pryce, Kevin Spacey, and Alec Baldwin. Sometimes that’s just how things work – a prominent display in one film leads to a lens being focused on another film that might otherwise be ignored.

There are a handful of actors vying for accolades from two films this year. It’s unlikely that there would be more than two double nominees (both Holly Hunter and Emma Thompson pulled it off in 1993), but here are the best bets to pop up for multiple films.

George Clooney – The Descendants and The Ides of March

Clooney is a sure thing in the Best Actor race thanks to his heartfelt portrayal of a Hawaiian businessman whose wife falls into a coma. He also directed The Ides of March, in which he plays an idealistic presidential candidate. In 2005, Clooney got recognized for acting inSyriana, but only for directing when it came to Good Night, and Good Luck, though his role in that film was miniscule, and he could have a better shot this year.

Brad Pitt – Moneyball and The Tree of Life

Playing an innovative general manger for a poorly-funded baseball team earned two-time nominee Pitt high praise, and if the film remains a hot topic, he could place in the Best Actor race. He also got buzz for Terrence Malick’s unending epic The Tree of Life, which is more of an unspoken performance, though it’s unclear whether that role would be considered a lead or supporting part.

Ryan Gosling – Drive and The Ides of March

In addition to the well-received comedy Crazy Stupid Love, Gosling will have to face off against himself in the Best Actor category. His unnamed stuntman moonlighting as a getaway driver is the more challenging role and may attract independent-minded voters, while the rest will appreciate his strong performance as a conflicted campaign staffer in Clooney’s political drama.

Jessica Chastain
– The Help, Take Shelter, and The Tree of Life

Though she appeared in only two films before 2011, Chastain stars in an impressive six films this year. Any love for The Debt will likely go to Helen Mirren, while Coriolanus will be all about Ralph Fiennes and Vanessa Redgrave, and Texas Killing Fields won’t get any attention. That still leaves three films, two dramas and one comedy. She plays long-suffering wives in both Take Shelter and The Tree of Life, so it’s probable that she’ll stand out more in The Help, in which she shines as one of the supporting cast’s most intriguing and entertaining players.

Michael Fassbender – A Dangerous Method and Shame

This Inglourious Basterds star will be an Oscar nominee at some point, even if it may not be this year. His visibility is definitely up after playing Magneto in X-Men First Class, and he could be an Oscar contender for the Carl Jung/Sigmund Freud biopic A Dangerous Method or the more controversial Shame, which earned an NC-17 rating.

Carey Mulligan – Shame and Drive

Mulligan was nominated for An Education and hasn’t yet found a fitting follow-up role to score her second Oscar mention. She may have that in her supporting role in the NC-17-rated Shame, but she’ll also garner some votes from those who really loved Drive and her unspoken off-the-wall chemistry with Ryan Gosling.


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