By Leah Rozen
Updated March 26, 2001 12:00 PM

Willem Dafoe, Shadow of the Vampire

Benicio Del Toro, Traffic *

Albert Finney, Erin Brockovich

Joaquin Phoenix, Gladiator

This is the category most crammed with worthy performances, but Del Toro, playing a dedicated Mexican police officer, shone as Traffic’s moral center. Speaking most of his lines in Spanish, he etched a layered portrait of a good man trying hard to do the just thing in a corrupt world where the line between right and wrong is never straight and often blurry. Backup pick: Dafoe, who managed slyly to carry Shadow of the Vampire on blood-drenched fangs.