On May 16, 1929, the Academy presented the first Oscar for Best Actor to Emil Jannings for his performances in two films: “The Way of All Flesh” and “The Last Command.” Since that first ceremony, a total of 79 performers have received Hollywood’s most prestigious honor for acting. We have compiled the definitive gallery of every Best Actor winner in the 88-year history of the Academy Awards from Jannings’ victory to reigning champ Leonardo DiCaprio (“The Revenant”). Click through our detailed Best Actor photo gallery above.
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In the early years of the Oscars, actors could be nominated for multiple performances in the same year, a practice that was abandoned after 1930. The custom of having five nominees in a category was not instituted until the ceremony’s ninth anniversary in 1937. Only one tie has occurred in the history of the category: in 1932, Frederic March (“Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde”) earned one more vote than fellow nominee Wallace Beery (“The Champ”) but a academy rule dictated that categories with less than a three-vote margin would be ruled a tie; as a result both actors received a statue.
Daniel Day-Lewis holds the record for most Best Actor wins with three: 1989’s “My Left Foot,” 2007’s “There Will Be Blood,” and 2012’s “Lincoln.” The late Peter O’Toole has the distinction of having the most losses in this category with eight nominations and no wins. We will see whose name will be added to this distinguished gallery of actors when the 89th Academy Awards are handed out February 26 on ABC, hosted by Jimmy Kimmel.
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