But what about some of those, well, lesser-known contenders?
Here is our list of five Oscar nominees you don't know but should…
Jeremy Renner (Actor in a Leading Role, The Hurt Locker): The hunkster California native, 39, has appeared in The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford with Brad Pitt and even has a Gossip Girl connection—he stars opposite Blake Lively in Ben Affleck-directed The Town.
Carey Mulligan (Actress in a Leading Role, An Education): Don't let the American accent she has in the upcoming Wall Street sequel fool you, because this 24-year-old beauty comes to us from Great Britain. She started her acting career at age 18 in the 2005 adaptation of Pride & Prejudice and made her Broadway debut just two years later in The Seagull, thankyouverymuch. Oh, she also dates her Wall Street costar Shia LaBeouf.
Gabourey Sidibe (Actress in a Leading Role, Precious): Could ya believe playing the 16-year-old title character in the gritty drama was her big-screen debut? Well, it was. This 26-year-old from Brooklyn, N.Y., will next be seen in The Big C, the upcoming Showtime series about a woman (Laura Linney) living with cancer.
Christoph Waltz (Actor in a Supporting Role, Inglourious Basterds): It's not easy to outshine Brad Pitt on the silver screen, but the 53-year-old Austrian actor did just that—playing the Nazi Hans Landa (aka The Jew Hunter). Next up is another villain, but of the comic book superhero kind: Chudnofsky opposite Seth Rogen and Cameron Diaz in The Green Hornet.
Ryan Bingham (Original Song, "The Weary Kind" from Crazy Heart): He's the only nonthespian on our list, but we think he's just so friggin' cute and darn talented. Conominated with music legend T-Bone Burnett, Bingham, 27, is a former rodeo bull rider turned singer-songwriter. Swoon.
Check out our 2010 Oscars: Notable Nominees photo gallery.