Though born in Chicago, Howard was raised in Cleveland. And considering his recent run on the big screen, we'd be wise to claim him now. Howard got his start in 1995's Mr. Holland's Opus, but really earned notice in Crash, winner of last year's Oscar for Best Picture, in which he played a black TV director who, in one of the film's most stomach-punching moments, quietly suffers as a white cop gropes his wife. Howard also won acclaim for his starring role in last year's Hustle and Flow, about a Memphis pimp turned rapper. The role -- which had the added bonus of letting Howard show off his skills on the mic -- earned him a Best Actor nomination. Though he was edged out by Philip Seymour Hoffman, we'll take this C-town brother every time.