9. Forest Whitaker, 'The Last King of Scotland'
Much like Denzel Washington's win for Training Day, Forest Whitaker snagged a Best Actor Oscar even though he's not technically the lead in his own movie. (That would be James McAvoy's idealistic young doctor Nicholas, who's seduced by Whitake's magnetic Ugandan President Idi Amin.) And like Washington's crooked cop, the actor makes the African dictator a hypnotic portrait of evil, a man who generates significant personal warmth but can turn coldblooded if anyone crosses him. The lumbering, stoic sweetness that's often at the forefront of Whitaker's portrayals was stripped away completely here: In The Last King of Scotland, we only witness the unknowable wickedness of a leader whose thirst for power cannot be satiated.