6 degrees of separation in Oscar race?

HOLLYWOOD -- bright lights, big city . . . small town? Apparently so, if you look at this year's Oscar acting nominations. The Screen Actors Guild may have some 120,000 members, but this year's nominees seem to be swimming in an awfully small bowl. So, in a tip of the top hat to the never-been-nominated Kevin Bacon, we went fishing for six or fewer degrees of separation among the class of 2008. Our goal: connect each lead actor contender with one of his actress counterparts, and each supporting actress with one of her supporting brethren. Mostly we used professional matchups, but personal entanglements were fair game too. Bacon even figured into a connection. Most interesting challenges: French newcomer Marion Cotillard and youngster Saoirse Ronan. Oh, and feel free to jump in any time . . .

LEAD ACTORS/ ACTRESSES

Viggo Mortensen ("Eastern Promises") and Marion Cotillard ("La Vie en Rose"):Mortensen in "A Perfect Murder" (1998) with Michael Douglas; Douglas in "Fatal Attraction" (1987) with Glenn Close; Close in "102 Dalmatians" (2000) with Gerard Depardieu; Depardieu in "La Vie en Rose" with Cotillard.

George Clooney("Michael Clayton") and Cate Blanchett ("Elizabeth: The Golden Age"): Clooney in "Ocean's Eleven" (2001) with Brad Pitt; Pitt in "Babel" (2006) with Blanchett.

Daniel Day-Lewis ("There Will Be Blood") and Ellen Page ("Juno"): Day-Lewis in "Gangs of New York" (2002) with Leonardo DiCaprio; DiCaprio in "Titanic" (1997) with Kate Winslet; Winslet in "Little Children" (2006) with Patrick Wilson; Wilson in "Hard Candy" (2005) with Page.

Johnny Depp ("Sweeney Todd") and Julie Christie ("Away From Her"): The easiest of the bunch: Depp costarred with Christie in "Finding Neverland" (2004).

Tommy Lee Jones ("In the Valley of Elah") and Laura Linney ("The Savages"): Jones in "JFK" (1991) with -- yes! -- Kevin Bacon; Bacon in "Mystic River" (2003) with Linney.

SUPPORTING ACTRESSES/ACTORS

Cate Blanchett ("I'm Not There") and Hal Holbrook ("Into the Wild"): Blanchett in "Babel" (2006) with Brad Pitt; Pitt's ex is Jennifer Aniston; Aniston hooked up with Vince Vaughn and was in "The Break-Up" (2006) with him; Vaughn in "Into the Wild" with Holbrook.

Ruby Dee ("American Gangster") and Philip Seymour Hoffman (" Charlie Wilson's War"): Dee was directed by Spike Lee in "Do the Right Thing" (1989) and "Jungle Fever" (1991); Lee directed Hoffman in "25th Hour" (2002).

Saoirse Ronan ("Atonement") and Javier Bardem ("No Country for Old Men"): Ronan in "Atonement" with James McAvoy; McAvoy in "Chronicles of Narnia" (2005) with Tilda Swinton; Swinton in "Vanilla Sky" (2001) with Penelope Cruz and Tom Cruise; Cruz is dating Bardem, and Cruise costarred with him in "Collateral" (2004).

Tilda Swinton ("Michael Clayton") and Tom Wilkinson ("Michael Clayton"): Beyond the straight "Clayton" connection: Swinton in "Young Adam" (2003) with Ewan MacGregor; MacGregor in "Cassandra's Dream" (2008) with Wilkinson.

Amy Ryan ("Gone Baby Gone") and Casey Affleck ("The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford"): The two costarred in "Gone Baby Gone," directed by Affleck's brother Ben. But extra points for making the connection the hard way: Ryan costars with Dominic West in HBO's "The Wire"; West in "Mona Lisa Smile" (2003) with Julia Roberts; Roberts in "The Mexican" (2001) with Brad Pitt; the ubiquitous Pitt in "Jesse James" and the "Ocean's" movies with Affleck.

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