As the Oscar campaign season heats up, Andrew Garfield would be wise to keep five words handy when promoting himself and his performances: “I played a real person.” Garfield is in contention for his leading roles in Mel Gibson’s “Hacksaw Ridge” and Martin Scorsese’s “Silence.” The nature of these roles hits a sweet spot with academy voters: both are based on real people, which has proven to improve one’s Oscar chances. Scroll through our gallery of Best Actor Oscar winners above to see just how many times actors have won for playing real-life roles.
Every Best Actor winner for the last four years has played a real character, including reigning champ Leonardo DiCaprio, who portrayed frontiersman and fur trapper Hugh Glass in “The Revenant.” Since 2000, 10 of the 16 Best Actor winners played historical figures including Abraham Lincoln (Daniel Day-Lewis in “Lincoln”), King George VI (Colin Firth in “The King’s Speech”), Harvey Milk (Sean Penn in “Milk”), and Ray Charles (Jamie Foxx in “Ray”).
Garfield’s best chance for an Oscar nom will most likely be for his role as Desmond Doss in “Hacksaw Ridge,” a combat medic in World War II who was the first conscientious objector to ever be awarded the Medal of Honor. The role has already brought Garfield nominations for Best Actor at the Golden Globes, Critics’ Choice, and Screen Actors Guild Awards. But he also could contend for his role in “Silence,” where he plays a priest based on Giuseppe Chiara, an Italian Jesuit missionary in Japan.
Other such contenders could join Garfield in the Best Actor race, including two-time Oscar-winner Tom Hanks for playing the airline pilot Chesley Sullenberger (“Sully”), Joel Edgerton for taking on the role of reluctant civil-rights hero Richard Loving (“Loving”), and Michael Keaton as pioneering McDonald’s CEO Ray Croc (“The Founder”). Will we see a fifth consecutive Oscar awarded to an actor playing a real-life person this year?
Be sure to make your Oscar predictions so that Hollywood insiders can see how each film is faring in our Oscar odds. You can keep changing your predictions right up until just before nominations are announced on January 24 at 5:00 am PT/8:00 am ET. Be sure to read our contest rules. And join in the fierce debate over the Oscars taking place right now with Hollywood insiders in our forums.