When was the last time all of the nominees for Oscar Best Actor were first-timers? It’s only been 88 years

When the 2023 Oscar nominations were announced last Tuesday the 24th, an interesting thing happened. Sixteen of the 20 acting nomination slots were held down by first-time nominees, including all five for Best Actor: Austin Butler for “Elvis,” Colin Farrell for “The Banshees of Inisherin,” Brendan Fraser for “The Whale,” Paul Mescal for “Aftersun” and Bill Nighy for “Living.” It was a somewhat stunning development given that all five in the category last year were returnees: Will Smith (“King Richard”), Javier Bardem (“Being the Ricardos”), Benedict Cumberbatch (“The Power of the Dog”), Andrew Garfield (“Tick, Tick…Boom!”) and Denzel Washington (“The Tragedy of Macbeth”).

If you’re wondering when happened to be the last time that all of the nominees in the lead actor category were first-timers, try 1935, in the midst of The Great Depression. Franklin Roosevelt was President of the United States. Parker Brothers marketed the board game Monopoly for the first time. A loaf of bread set you back a nickel, while gasoline averaged all of 19 cents a gallon.

Yes, it’s been a mere 88 years since not a single repeat nominee cracked the list. That year, it was only the seventh Academy Awards ceremony ever, and there were just three nominees total: Clark Gable for “It Happened One Night,” Frank Morgan for “The Affairs of Cellini” and William Powell for “The Thin Man.” Gable wound up winning his first and only Oscar. The last time there were at least five nominees in the category and none were repeats was 1931.

Right now, back in 2023, Fraser is in front of the pack in the Gold Derby combined odds at 7/2, with Butler second at 37/10.

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