At the heart of 2004’s best actress race is a rematch five years in the making. In 1999, Hilary Swank took the Academy Award for her role in “Boys Don’t Cry,” beating out Annette Bening, who was nominated for “American Beauty.” The two will face off again this year, with Swank nominated for “Million Dollar Baby” and Bening for “Being Julia.”

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Swank, when I was your age, I … lived in a duplex! (Courtesy of Sony Pictures Classic)

Though in good company, the two are generally considered frontrunners both receiving Golden Globe awards for their roles — Swank for best actress in a drama, Bening for best actress in a comedy or musical.

In “Million Dollar Baby,” Swank plays a thirty-something boxer who will stop at nothing to get to the top. Her undying determination and spirit is overwhelming. No other actress’s performance this year comes close to being as intense as hers, and as the only nominee with a golden statuette in her possession, Swank is a likely choice, with her ability to nail an Academy Award playing the tough-girl character. After all, she has been mastering the role ever since “The Next Karate Kid” in 1994.

Unfortunately for Bening, the Academy typically favors dramas over comedies like “Being Julia.” Bening’s portrayal of the 1930s stage actress Julia Lambert was certainly strong, but it may prove too lighthearted to compete with the more dramatic roles of her competitors. However, Bening does have an impressive body of work without any Academy Awards to boast.

Combined with her loss in 1999, her resum

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