Who will continue the Oscar tradition of winning for portraying a real person?

When Daniel Kaluuya won the 2021 Best Supporting Actor Oscar for his role as Fred Hampton in “Judas and the Black Messiah,” he became the 76th performer to be honored for a portrayal of a real person. There has been at least one such case across the four acting categories in 19 of the last 20 years, with the 2017 quartet being the last to all win for playing fictional characters. This year, there are nine nominees with the potential to continue the trend, including two whose real-life counterparts are still living.

In Oscar history, it is most common for a win of this kind to come in the Best Actor category. In the nine decades since George Arliss prevailed here for playing Benjamin Disraeli in “Disraeli” (1930), 27 more lead male champs have followed, and they now account for 30% of all victories in the category. The six who have triumphed in the last decade alone are Daniel Day-Lewis as Abraham Lincoln in “Lincoln” (2013), Matthew McConaughey as Ron Woodroof in “Dallas Buyers Club” (2014), Eddie Redmayne as Stephen Hawking in “The Theory of Everything” (2015), Leonardo DiCaprio as Hugh Glass in “The Revenant” (2016), Gary Oldman as Winston Churchill in “Darkest Hour” (2018), and Rami Malek as Freddie Mercury in “Bohemian Rhapsody” (2019).

Four of the current five Best Actor nominees portray real people in their films, with Benedict Cumberbatch (“The Power of the Dog”) standing alone as the only one who plays a fictional character. Will Smith (“King Richard”) is the only one who plays a living figure, as his counterpart, Richard Williams, turned 80 in February. The remaining three slots are filled by Javier Bardem as Desi Arnaz in “Being the Ricardos,” Andrew Garfield as Jonathan Larson in “tick, tick… BOOM!,” and Denzel Washington as King Macbeth in “The Tragedy of Macbeth.”

Eighteen (or 19%) of all Best Actress winners fit into this group, with the first having been Luise Rainer as Anna Held in “The Great Ziegfeld” (1937). Just three have been added to the list in the past decade: Meryl Streep as Margaret Thatcher in “The Iron Lady” (2012), Olivia Colman as Queen Anne in “The Favourite” (2019), and Renée Zellweger as Judy Garland in “Judy” (2020). Streep is the only lead performer who won for playing a living person (Thatcher died in 2013) during the last decade.

The three leading women who are nominated this year for biographical performances are Jessica Chastain as Tammy Faye Bakker in “The Eyes of Tammy Faye,” Nicole Kidman as Lucille Ball in “Being the Ricardos,” and Kristen Stewart as Diana, the Princess of Wales in “Spencer.” Kidman could become the first woman to win two Oscars for playing real people, having already bagged a trophy for taking on the role of Virginia Woolf in “The Hours” (2003).

There are 15 past Best Supporting Actor examples which account for 18% of wins in that category. The two featured men who preceded Kaluuya by joining the club during the 2010s are Mark Rylance as Rudolf Abel in “Bridge of Spies” (2016) and Mahershala Ali as Don Shirley in “Green Book” (2019). J. K. Simmons, who plays William Frawley in “Being the Ricardos,” is the only one who could be added to the list this year.

A Best Supporting Actress win of this kind is least likely, since there have only been 13 such cases ever. The three from the past decade have involved Lupita Nyong’o as Patsey in “12 Years a Slave” (2014), Alicia Vikander as Gerda Wegener in “The Danish Girl” (2016), and Allison Janney as LaVona Golden in “I, Tonya” (2018). Janney is the only supporting player to win for portraying a living person in the last 10 years, but she could soon be joined in that regard by Aunjanue Ellis, who is nominated this year for stepping into the shoes of Oracene Price in “King Richard.”

Aside from Streep and Janney, 19 more performers have won for playing real people who were still alive at the time of their victories. The seven others who have done so in the last 20 years are lead winners Helen Mirren as Queen Elizabeth II in “The Queen” (2007) and Sandra Bullock as Leigh Anne Tuohy in “The Blind Side” (2010) and supporting champs Jim Broadbent as John Bayley in “Iris” (2002), Jennifer Connelly as Alicia Nash in “A Beautiful Mind” (2002), Chris Cooper as John Laroche in “Adaptation” (2003), and “The Fighter” (2011) costars Christian Bale and Melissa Leo as Dicky Eklund and Alice Ward.

PREDICT the 2022 Oscar winners through March 27

Make your predictions at Gold Derby now. Download our free and easy app for Apple/iPhone devices or Android (Google Play) to compete against legions of other fans plus our experts and editors for best prediction accuracy scores. See our latest prediction champs. Can you top our esteemed leaderboards next? Always remember to keep your predictions updated because they impact our latest racetrack odds, which terrify Hollywood chiefs and stars. Don’t miss the fun. Speak up and share your huffy opinions in our famous forums where 5,000 showbiz leaders lurk every day to track latest awards buzz. Everybody wants to know: What do you think? Who do you predict and why?

More News from GoldDerby