2021 Oscar Predictions: Best Actor [Updated November 18]

Almost all of the Best Actor winners at this century’s 20 Academy Awards ceremonies have ticked at least one of these two boxes: they were over 40 or portraying a real-life fellow when they prevailed. The only exceptions: Russell Crowe (“Gladiator”) and Jean Dujardin (“The Artist”). At the 2020 Oscars, Joaquin Phoenix was 45 when he picked up the Best Actor Oscar for “Joker.” The previous year saw 37-year-old Rami Malek (“Bohemian Rhapsody”) win for his riveting portrayal of Queen frontman Freddie Mercury. (Scroll down for the most up-to-date 2021 Oscars predictions for Best Actor.)

Of the 10 most recent Best Actor winners at the Oscars, Malek and six others won for taking on real-life roles: Colin Firth (“The King’s Speech,” 2011); Daniel Day-Lewis (“Lincoln,” 2013); Matthew McConaughey (“Dallas Buyers Club,” 2014); Eddie Redmayne (“The Theory of Everything,” 2015); Leonardo DiCaprio (“The Revenant,” 2016); and Gary Oldman (“Darkest Hour,” 2018).

Who will win Best Actor at the 2021 Oscars? Below, we consider the contenders. This roster includes past Academy Awards champs, previous nominees and those looking for their first bids, be they film newcomers or long-time screen actors.

DISCUSS All the Oscar contenders with Hollywood insiders in our notorious forums

Please note: To read full descriptions of each film, check out our 2021 Oscar Best Picture predictions. Certain contenders are also included in the Best Supporting Actor round-up. Only those actors whose films have confirmed release dates are listed below. Check back often as new contenders are scheduled while other are dropped due to delays or critical reaction.

UPDATED: November 18, 2020

Leading Contenders

Riz Ahmed, “Sound of Metal” (Amazon – November 20)

Chadwick Boseman, “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” (Netflix – December 18)

Colin Firth, “Supernova” (Bleecker Street – January 29, 2021)

Tom Hanks, “News Of The World” (Universal – December 25)

Anthony Hopkins, “The Father” (Sony Pictures Classics – December 18)

Delroy Lindo, “Da 5 Bloods” (Netflix – June 12)

Gary Oldman, “Mank” (Netflix – December 18)

SIGN UP for Gold Derby’s newsletter with experts’ latest predictions

Strong Contenders

Kingsley Ben-Adir, “One Night in Miami” (Amazon – December 25)

George Clooney, “The Midnight Sky” (Netflix – December 23)

Benedict Cumberbatch, “The Courier” (Lionsgate – February 19, 2021)

Adarsh Gourav, “The White Tiger” (Netflix – January 22, 2021)

Tom Holland, “Cherry”  (Apple+ – Winter)

Daniel Kaluuya, “Judas and the Black Messiah” (Warner Bros. – Winter)

Liam Neeson, “Ordinary Love” (Focus – February 14)

Dev Patel, “The Personal History of David Copperfield” (Searchlight Pictures – August 28)

Trevante Rhodes, “The United States vs. Billie Holiday” (Paramount – February 12, 2021)

John David Washington, “Tenet” (Warner Bros. – September 3)

Steven Yeun, “Minari” (A24 – Winter)

PREDICT the 2021 Oscar nominations through March 15

Possible Contenders

Ben Affleck, “The Way Back” (Warner Bros. – March 6)

Sacha Baron Cohen, “Borat Subsequent Moviefilm” (Amazon – October 23)

James Corden, “The Prom” (Netflix – December 11)

Benedict Cumberbatch, “The Courier” (Lionsgate – February 19, 2021)

Pete Davidson, “The King of Staten Island” (Paramount – June 20)

Jamie Dornan, “Wild Mountain Thyme” (Bleecker Street – December 11)

Winston Duke, “Nine Days” (Sony Pictures Classics – January 22, 2021)

Max Harwood, “Everybody’s Talking About Jamie” (20th Century – January 21, 2021)

John Magaro, “First Cow” (A24 – March 24)

Jim Parsons, “The Boys In The Band” (Netflix – September 30)

Jesse Plemon, “I’m Thinking of Ending Things” (Netflix – September 4)

Andy Samberg, “Palm Springs” (Neon – July 10)

We will be updating our Oscar predictions for each competitive category often in the days to come so be sure to bookmark this page and keep checking back as the race heats up.

2021 Oscar Predictions: Best Picture: Updated – November 12, 2020

2021 Oscar Predictions: Best Director: Updated – November 16, 2020

2021 Oscar Predictions: Best Actor: Updated – November 18, 2020

2021 Oscar Predictions: Best Actress: Updated – November 17, 2020

2021 Oscar Predictions: Best Supporting Actor: Updated – November 6, 2020

2021 Oscar Predictions: Best Supporting Actress: Updated – November 12, 2020

2021 Oscar Predictions: Best Adapted Screenplay: Updated – November 9, 2020

2021 Oscar Predictions: Best Original Screenplay: Updated – November 9, 2020

2021 Oscar Predictions: Best Cinematography: Updated – November 10, 2020

2021 Oscar Predictions: Best Costume Design: Updated – November 10, 2020

2021 Oscar Predictions: Best Film Editing: Updated – November 10, 2020

2021 Oscar Predictions: Best Makeup & Hairstyling: Updated – November 12, 2020

2021 Oscar Predictions: Best Original Score: Updated – November 11, 2020

2021 Oscar Predictions: Best Original Song: Updated – November 16, 2020

2021 Oscar Predictions: Best Production Design: Updated – November 10, 2020

2021 Oscar Predictions: Best Sound: Updated – November 11, 2020

2021 Oscar Predictions: Best Visual Effects: Updated – November 11, 2020

2021 Oscar Predictions: Best Animated Feature: Updated – November 9, 2020

2021 Oscar Predictions: Best Documentary Feature: Updated – November 9, 2020

2021 Oscar Predictions: Best International Feature: Updated – November 14, 2020

PREDICT the 2021 Oscar nominations through March 15

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?

SIGN UP for Gold Derby’s free newsletter with latest predictions

More News from GoldDerby

Loading