Almost all of the Best Actor winners at this century’s 22 Academy Awards ceremonies have ticked at least one of these two boxes: they were over 40 or portraying a real-life fellow. The only exceptions: Russell Crowe (“Gladiator”) and Jean Dujardin (“The Artist”) who were 36 and 39 respectively when they prevailed for playing fictional characters. In 2022 Will Smith, 53, won for portraying tennis coach Richard Williams in “King Richard.” In 2021, Anthony Hopkins became the oldest Best Actor winner ever at age 83 when he prevailed for “The Father.” 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”) triumph for his riveting portrayal of Queen frontman Freddie Mercury. (Scroll down for the most up-to-date 2023 Oscars Best Actor predictions.)
Of the 10 most recent Best Actor winners at the Oscars, Smith, Malek and five others won for taking on real-life roles: 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 2023 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 2023 Oscars Best Picture predictions. Category placement remains in question for several of these contenders who could be positioned in Best Supporting Actor.
UPDATED: February 6, 2023
Colin Farrell (“The Banshees of Inisherin”)
Brendan Fraser (“The Whale”)
Austin Butler (“Elvis”)
Paul Mescal (“Aftersun”)
Bill Nighy (“Living”)
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