Like the Best Pictures categories at the Golden Globes, the pool of men vying for an acting prize is defined into two groups: dramatic performances and dramatic performances plus laughs. There may not be any certifiably hilarious performances, but they're all stellar in their own right without a clear frontrunner in either category.
Before the Golden Globes this Sunday, we've broken down the two Best Actor categories to help you get a better picture of who might walk away a winner.
Best Actor in a Motion Picture, Comedy
Who Will Win: Christian Bale for "American Hustle"
There really is no such thing as a bad Christian Bale performance, and in David O. Russell's game of cons, the former Batman actually seems like he's having fun. As Irving Rosenfeld, Bale gives the kind of performance we would have expected from De Niro in the late '70s or early '80s. It's over the top, but always grounded in reality. And that's to speak nothing of the hair!
Who Should Win: Joaquin Phoenix for "Her"
Among the great performances of the category, Phoenix's may have been the hardest to pull off, given the challenges that come with portraying a believable relationship between a man and his operating system. The audience's investment in Phoenix as Theodore Twombly is one of the things that makes "Her" work at all. (It's just a shame that the HFPA ruled Scarlett Johansson ineligible.) The high-concept romance would have come off as laughably silly if the leads didn't play it so straight and earnestly.
Best Actor in a Motion Picture, Drama
Who Will Win: Chiwetel Ejiofor for "12 Years a Slave"
With a category full of great performances, this will be one of the most closely watched races of the night, but we have to give the edge of Ejiofor, who has held onto a strong lead throughout award season, despite tough competition from both Robert Redford and Matthew McConaughey. "12 Years a Slave" is undoubtedly a great and important film, and one that wouldn't have been either without a strong lead performance to match the material.
Who Should Win: Chiwetel Ejiofor for "12 Years a Slave"
Recognition for Ejiofor has been a long time coming, and last year, he ended up in the perfect movie to show off just how good he is.
The Golden Globes air Sunday night at 8 p.m. ET. Keep an eye on MTV News for everything you need to know before, during and after the show.
Who do you think should win the Best Supporting Actor category? Cast your vote!