2021 Oscar Predictions: Best Actor [Updated March 6]

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.

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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: March 6, 2021

Leading Contenders

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

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

Anthony Hopkins, “The Father” (Sony Pictures Classics – February 26, 2021)

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

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

Steven Yeun, “Minari” (A24 – February 12, 2021)

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Strong Contenders

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

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

Tom Holland, “Cherry”  (Apple+ – February 26, 2021)

Mads Mikkelsen, “Another Round” (Samuel Goldwyn – December 4)

Tahir Rahim, “The Mauritanian” (SXT – February 12, 2021)

John David Washington, “Malcolm and Marie” (Netflix – February 5, 2021)

PREDICT the 2021 Oscar nominations through March 15

Possible Contenders

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lakeith Stanfield, “Judas and the Black Messiah” (Warner Bros. – February 12, 2021)

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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 – March 5, 2021

2021 Oscar Predictions: Best Director: Updated – March 5, 2021

2021 Oscar Predictions: Best Actor: Updated – March 6, 2021

2021 Oscar Predictions: Best Actress: Updated – March 6, 2021

2021 Oscar Predictions: Best Supporting Actor: Updated – February 25, 2021

2021 Oscar Predictions: Best Supporting Actress: Updated – February 25, 2021

2021 Oscar Predictions: Best Adapted Screenplay: Updated – February 26, 2021

2021 Oscar Predictions: Best Original Screenplay: Updated – February 26, 2021

2021 Oscar Predictions: Best Cinematography: Updated – March 4, 2021

2021 Oscar Predictions: Best Costume Design: Updated – March 4, 2021

2021 Oscar Predictions: Best Film Editing: Updated – March 4, 2021

2021 Oscar Predictions: Best Makeup & Hairstyling: Updated – February 22 2021

2021 Oscar Predictions: Best Original Score: Updated – February 10, 2021

2021 Oscar Predictions: Best Original Song: Updated – February 10, 2021

2021 Oscar Predictions: Best Production Design: Updated – February 12, 2021

2021 Oscar Predictions: Best Sound: Updated – March 3, 2021

2021 Oscar Predictions: Best Visual Effects: Updated – March 3, 2021

2021 Oscar Predictions: Best Animated Feature: Updated – March 3, 2021

2021 Oscar Predictions: Best Documentary Feature: Updated – February 9, 2021

2021 Oscar Predictions: Best International Feature: Updated – February 9, 2021

PREDICT the 2021 Oscar nominations through March 15

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