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Best Actor – Russell Crowe, “A Beautiful Mind”

Film: A Beautiful Mind

Previous wins for role: Golden Globe for Best Actor in a Motion Picture – Drama

Previous Oscar wins/nominations:
Won for Best Actor, Gladiator (2000)
Nominated for Best Actor, The Insider (1999)

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Character bio: Crowe portrays real-life mathematical genius John Forbes Nash Jr., whom we first meet in 1948 as graduate student at Princeton University, where he calculates his mathematical theories on dorm room and library windows. Eventually he closes in on a hypothesis for an economic theory and becomes a star in the math world. Unbeknownst to those around him, however, Nash’s “beautiful mind” is also descending into madness and his grip on reality is fading. But he fights back. Through the years, John learns to deal with his delusions and finally gains the respect and admiration of his peers, winning the Nobel Prize for his economic theories.

Oscar odds: We all know the man can act, but Crowe really turns it on in this film. He gets under Nash’s skin–from his walk to the twitches of his mouth to the eyes that never stop moving-and shows us the horror of being locked in a mind that works brilliantly yet won’t let him see things normally. It’s a tour de force performance and one richly deserving of an Oscar. Crowe seems to be on a Best Actor streak, having been nominated in 1999 for The Insider and then winning last year for Gladiator. Still, he is not an Academy darling, so giving him the Oscar two years in a row–thus elevating him to Tom Hanks status–may prove difficult. —Kit Bowen

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