Best Actress Oscar Tracker 2006

Last year, the Oscar race was won long in advance by Hilary Swank, who ended up coming through in the end, making the other four nominees mere window dressing. But this year, the race is wide open. While Reese Witherspoon is an early favorite, she by no means has the win locked up.

After you check out these best actress hopefuls, don't forget to take a look at our picks for best picture and best actor, and tell us what you think.

The five nominees:
Charlize Theron
Dressing down again for a gritty role '- which the Academy loves '- Theron is a hero in North Country, which should make it even easier for her to snatch up a statue.

Judi Dench
The choice is a little old school, but so are the majority of the Academy voters, who love the kind of great acting Dench delivers in Mrs. Henderson Presents, a World War II story of triumph and heartbreak.

Keira Knightley
While her character swooned over Mr. Darcy in Pride & Prejudice, moviegoers have been falling hard for this 20-year-old actress.

Reese Witherspoon
Walk the Line is really Joaquin Phoenix's movie, but Witherspoon should still score as Cash's lady love, June Carter.

Felicity Huffman
This is definitely her year, winning an Emmy and now picking up lots of notice for playing a transsexual in the indie road movie TransAmerica.

Last year's winner: Hilary Swank (Million Dollar Baby)

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