Best Actor Predictions – IndieWire

Nominations voting is from January 11-16, 2024, with official Oscar nominations announced January 23, 2024. Final voting is February 22-27, 2024. And finally, the 96th Oscars telecast will be broadcast on Sunday, March 10 and air live on ABC at 8:00 p.m. ET/ 5:00 p.m. PT. We update predictions through awards season, so keep checking IndieWire for all our 2024 Oscar picks.

The State of the Race

These days, the main subject of conversation about the upcoming Best Actor Oscar race is all about Leonardo DiCaprio, star of the long-awaited Martin Scorsese film “Killers of the Flower Moon” (Apple Original Films/Paramount Pictures). Throughout the film’s lengthy development, it was unclear whether “The Revenant” actor was actually the lead of the film or serving in a supporting role (Jesse Plemons’ FBI man plays a more prominent role in the David Grann bestseller). But the 2023 Cannes Film Festival premiere clarified that DiCaprio, a Best Actor winner in 2016, is going to be a lead contender in the category.

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BARBIE, Ryan Gosling as Ken, 2023. © Warner Bos. /Courtesy Everett Collection

Still, there is much to come. On one end, biopics “Maestro” (Netflix), “Rustin” (Netflix), and “Napoleon” (Apple Original Films/Sony Pictures) are built around the lead performances of Bradley Cooper, Colman Domingo, and Joaquin Phoenix, respectively. On the other end, it’s still unclear where the actors in “Poor Things” (Searchlight Pictures), “The Bikeriders” (20th Century Studios), and “All of Us Strangers” (Searchlight Pictures) will land when it comes to the supporting versus lead divide.

At film festival premieres in the first half of the year, past Oscar nominee David Strathairn (“Good Night, and Good Luck”) broke out at Sundance in family drama “A Little Prayer,” which Sony Pictures Classics will hope to follow the “Living” route that took Bill Nighy to an Oscar nomination. Alden Ehrenreich, star of “Fair Play” (Netflix), also made waves as one half of the buzziest acquisition out of the January festival. Though “Past Lives” is already a rare independent box office success story, A24’s challenge is to push Korean star Teo Yoo into awards conversation, but in which category? (His co-star John Magaro is more clearly a Supporting Actor contender.)

Was “Everything Everywhere All at Once” making SXSW an Oscar launchpad an anomaly, or can Amazon Studios follow the trend by pushing “Air” star Matt Damon as a Best Actor contender? (He has scored three acting nominations.) The movie earned a 73 Metascore and was a box office disappointment in relation to cost, but played well to an older (male) demo.

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Clearly, the more established Cannes was the bigger launching pad for possible awards hopefuls like Christian Friedel of “The Zone of Interest” (A24”), Josh O’Connor of “La Chimera” (Neon), and Kôji Yakusho of “Perfect Days” (Neon).

In recent weeks, Cillian Murphy has enjoyed major breakout buzz for his work playing the titular role in Christopher Nolan’s “Oppenheimer” (Universal Pictures), a film that’s surpassed all expectations. In their seventh collaboration together, the British auteur teed up the Irish actor to rattle audiences with up-close IMAX shots of him considering the scientific achievement and dire consequences of being the father of the atom bomb.

Given the success of music biopics like “Bohemian Rhapsody” and “Elvis,” Kingsley Ben-Adir seems primed for a major awards campaign as well, as the star of Reinaldo Marcus Green’s “Bob Marley: One Love” (Paramount Pictures).

With more news about fall festivals being released every day, past Oscar nominees Adam Driver and Paul Giamatti will use the respective premieres of “Ferrari” (STX Entertainment) and “The Holdovers” (Focus Features) as an opportunity to go another round. But this may be Michael Fassbender’s big year, with Taika Waititi’s “Next Goal Wins” (Searchlight Pictures) already pegged as a TIFF crowdpleaser and world premiere, and David Fincher’s “The Killer” (Netflix) up next.

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Contenders are listed in alphabetical order, below. No actor will be deemed a frontrunner until we have seen the film.

Matt Damon (“Air”)
Leonardo DiCaprio (“Killers of the Flower Moon”)
Alden Ehrenreich (“Fair Play”)
Cillian Murphy (“Oppenheimer”)
David Strathairn (“A Little Prayer”)

Kingsley Ben-Adir (“Bob Marley: One Love”)
Bradley Cooper (“Maestro”)
Colman Domingo (“Rustin”)
Adam Driver (“Ferrari”)
Michael Fassbender (“The Killer”)
Christian Friedel (“The Zone of Interest”)
Paul Giamatti (“The Holdovers”)
Barry Keoghan (“Saltburn”)
Joaquin Phoenix (“Napoleon”)
John David Washington (“The Piano Lesson”)

Long Shots:
Jay Baruchel (“Blackberry”)
Timothée Chalamet (“Dune: Part Two”)
Paul Dano (“Dumb Money”)
Michael Fassbender (“Next Goal Wins”)
Gael García Bernal (“Cassandro”)
Kelvin Harrison Jr. (“Chevalier”)
Joaquin Phoenix (“Beau Is Afraid”)
Josh O’Connor (“La Chimera”)
Franz Rogowski (“Passages”)
Teo Yoo (“Past Lives”)

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