FOR Brokeback Mountain
WHY? Wasn't it just a few months ago that critics and audiences alike were writing off the Aussie actor for his long string of flops, from 2002's Four Feathers to 2005's Lords of Dogtown and The Brothers Grimm? Yet somehow, Ledger transformed himself. He's barely recognizable in face, voice, and body as Brokeback's wiry wrangler Ennis Del Mar, who ages 20 years while repressing a secret, forbidden passion for fellow roustabout Jack Twist (Jake Gyllenhaal). Having delivered what may be the year's most heartbreaking performance, Ledger also transformed himself into a serious thespian, an awards shortlister, and a bona fide star. Nice ropin', cowboy.
(Golden Globe nomination: Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture Drama)