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Final Oscars Predictions: Best Actor – Why Colman Domingo’s Chances Improve for ‘Rustin’ With Decade-Long Stat


Variety Awards Circuit section is the home for all awards news and related content throughout the year, featuring the following: the official predictions for the upcoming Oscars, Emmys, Grammys and Tony Awards ceremonies, curated by Variety senior awards editor Clayton Davis. The prediction pages reflect the current standings in the race and do not reflect personal preferences for any individual contender. As other formal (and informal) polls suggest, competitions are fluid and subject to change based on buzz and events. Predictions are updated every Thursday.

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2024 Oscars Predictions:
Best Actor

Bradley Cooper in “Maestro”

Weekly Commentary (Updated Jan. 18, 2024): The SAG-nominated actors are the safest bet for nominations. That includes Bradley Cooper (“Maestro”), Colman Domingo (“Rustin”), Paul Giamatti (“The Holdovers“), Cillian Murphy (“Oppenheimer”) and Jeffrey Wright (“American Fiction”). Many believe Leonardo DiCaprio is on the bubble for “Killers of the Flower Moon.”

I’ve read many justifications online on why Domingo could miss, making room for DiCaprio, tied to “Rustin” being very likely not the best-picture nominee.

Aside from voters showing enthusiasm for Domingo and Wright to make the lineup, there’s been an assumption that the best actor always correlates to the best picture. In fact, there have only been five lineups in Oscar history, with all nominees coming from best picture-nominated movies:

  • 2013: Christian Bale (“American Hustle”), Bruce Dern (“Nebraska”), Leonardo DiCaprio (“The Wolf of Wall Street”), Chiwetel Ejiofor (“12 Years a Slave”), winner Matthew McConaughey (“Dallas Buyers Club”)
  •  1966: Alan Arkin (“The Russians are Coming, the Russians are Coming”), Richard Burton (“Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?”), Michael Caine (“Alfie”), Steve McQueen (“The Sand Pebbles”) and winner Paul Scofield (“A Man for All Seasons”)
  •  1964: Richard Burton and Peter O’Toole (“Becket”), winner Rex Harrison (“My Fair Lady”), Anthony Quinn (“Zorba the Greek”) and Peter Sellers (“Dr. Strangelove”)
  •  1943: Humphrey Bogart (“Casablanca”), Gary Cooper (“For Whom the Bell Tolls”), winner Paul Lukas (“Watch on the Rhine”), Walter Pidgeon (“Madame Curie”), Mickey Rooney (“The Human Comedy”)
  •  1942: winner James Cagney (“Yankee Doodle Dandy”), Ronald Colman (“Random Harvest”), Gary Cooper (“The Pride of the Yankees”), Walter Pidgeon (“Mrs. Miniver”), Monty Woolley (“The Pied Piper”)

Interestingly, 2013 is also the only time two acting categories had all its nominees coming from best picture nominees, including supporting actor. Coincidentally, supporting actor looks likely to include all five actors from the top category. Does that mean Domingo might be safer than people presume? And if DiCaprio is to make a last-minute play, could it be someone else?

I think Cooper could be a tad more vulnerable than people suspect, primarily due to having conversations with voters who are more divided on the film than reviews suggest. Oscar darlings have missed the lineup, such as Tom Hanks for “Captain Phillips” (coincidentally from 2013). But who knows if this is an accurate reading of the film or if it’s being influenced by the discourse on social media.

A surprise could be brewing nonetheless.

Read: Variety’s Awards Circuit for the latest Oscars predictions in all categories.

***The list below is not final and will be updated throughout the awards season.

And the Predicted Nominees Are:

  1. Leonardo DiCaprio — “Killers of the Flower Moon” (Apple Original Films/Paramount Pictures)
  2. Barry Keoghan — “Saltburn” (Amazon MGM Studios)
  3. Andrew Scott — “All of Us Strangers” (Searchlight Pictures)
  4. Matt Damon — “Air” (Amazon MGM Studios)
  5. Zac Efron — “The Iron Claw” (A24)

Other Top-Tier Possibilities

  1. Adam Driver — “Ferrari” (Neon)
  2. Christian Friedel — “The Zone of Interest” (A24)
  3. Franz Rogowski — “Passages” (Mubi)
  4. Joaquin Phoenix — “Napoleon” (Apple Original Films/Sony Pictures)
  5. Tee Yoo — “Past Lives” (A24)
  6. Anthony Hopkins — “Freud’s Last Session” (Sony Pictures Classics)
  7. Joaquin Phoenix — “Beau is Afraid” (A24)
  8. Nicolas Cage — “Dream Scenario” (A24)
  9. Timothée Chalamet — “Wonka” (Warner Bros.)
  10. Michael Fassbender — “The Killer” (Netflix)

Also In Contention

  1. Eugenio Derbez — “Radical” (Miercoles Entertainment)
  2. Kôji Yakusho — “Perfect Days” (Neon)
  3. Jay Baruchel — “BlackBerry” (IFC Films)
  4. Mads Mikkelsen — “The Promised Land” (Magnolia Pictures)
  5. Gael García Bernal — “Cassandro” (Amazon MGM Studios)
  6. Jamie Foxx — “The Burial” (Amazon MGM Studios)
  7. Alden Ehrenreich — “Fair Play” (Netflix)
  8. Benoît Magimel — “The Taste of Things” (IFC Films/Sapan Studio)
  9. Peter Dinklage — “She Came to Me” (Vertical Entertainment)
  10. Jesse Garcia — “Flamin’ Hot” (Hulu/Searchlight Pictures)

Eligible Titles (Alphabetized by Studio)**

  • John David Washington — “The Creator” (20th Century Studios)
  • Kenneth Branagh — “A Haunting in Venice” (20th Century Studios)
  • Joaquin Phoenix — “Beau is Afraid” (A24)
  • Nicolas Cage — “Dream Scenario” (A24)
  • Zac Efron — “The Iron Claw” (A24)
  • Tee Yoo — “Past Lives” (A24)
  • Jesse Eisenberg — “When You Finish Saving the World” (A24)
  • Christian Friedel — “The Zone of Interest” (A24)
  • Matt Damon — “Air” (Amazon MGM Studios)
  • Jamie Foxx — “The Burial” (Amazon MGM Studios)
  • Gael García Bernal — “Cassandro” (Amazon MGM Studios)
  • Paul Mescal — “Foe” (Amazon MGM Studios)
  • Morgan Freeman — “A Good Person” (Amazon MGM Studios)
  • Jake Gyllenhaal — “Guy Ritchie’s The Covenant” (Amazon MGM Studios)
  • Asante Blackk — “Landscape with Invisible Hand” (Amazon MGM Studios)
  • Barry Keoghan — “Saltburn” (Amazon MGM Studios)
  • Orén Kinlan — “Flora and Son” (Apple Original Films)
  • Leonardo DiCaprio — “Killers of the Flower Moon” (Apple Original Films/Paramount Pictures)
  • Joaquin Phoenix — “Napoleon” (Apple Original Films/Sony Pictures)
  • Taron Egerton — “Tetris” (Apple Original Films)
  • Liev Schreiber — “Across the River and Into the Trees” (Bleecker Street)
  • Paul Giamatti — “The Holdovers” (Focus Features)
  • Jay Baruchel — “BlackBerry” (IFC Films)
  • Benoît Magimel — “The Taste of Things” (IFC Films/Sapan Studio)
  • Jesse Garcia — “Flamin’ Hot” (Hulu/Searchlight Pictures)
  • Asante Blackk — “Story Ave” (Kino Lorber)
  • Keanu Reeves — “John Wick Chapter 4” (Lionsgate)
  • Joel Edgerton — “Master Gardener” (Magnolia Pictures)
  • Mads Mikkelsen — “The Promised Land” (Magnolia Pictures)
  • Paul Rudd — “Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quanumania” (Marvel Studios)
  • Chris Pratt — “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3” (Marvel Studios)
  • Jeffrey Wright — “American Fiction” (MGM)
  • Joel Edgerton — “The Boys in the Boat” (MGM)
  • Callum Turner — “The Boys in the Boat” (MGM)
  • Michael B. Jordan — “Creed III” (MGM)
  • Michael Peña — “A Million Miles Away” (MGM)
  • Eugenio Derbez — “Radical” (Miercoles Entertainment)
  • Franz Rogowski — “Passages” (Mubi)
  • Jaime Vadell — “El Conde” (Netflix)
  • Alden Ehrenreich — “Fair Play” (Netflix)
  • Josh O’Connor — “La Chimera” (Neon)
  • Kôji Yakusho — “Perfect Days” (Neon)
  • Michael Fassbender — “The Killer” (Netflix)
  • Mahershala Ali — “Leave the World Behind” (Netflix)
  • Bradley Cooper — “Maestro” (Netflix)
  • Colman Domingo — “Rustin” (Netflix)
  • Rafael Federman — “Society of the Snow” (Netflix)
  • Chris Pine — “Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves” (Paramount Pictures)
  • Tom Cruise — “Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One” (Paramount Pictures)
  • Nicolas Cage — “Butcher’s Crossing” (Saban Films)
  • Andrew Scott — “All of Us Strangers” (Searchlight Pictures)
  • Kelvin Harrison Jr. — “Chevalier” (Searchlight Pictures)
  • Michael Fassbender — “Next Goal Wins” (Searchlight Pictures)
  • Paul Dano — “Dumb Money” (Sony Pictures)
  • Denzel Washington — “The Equalizer 3” (Sony Pictures)
  • Shameik Moore — “Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse” (Sony Pictures)
  • Anthony Hopkins — “Freud’s Last Session” (Sony Pictures Classics)
  • Adam Driver — “Ferrari” (Neon)
  • Cillian Murphy — “Oppenheimer” (Universal Pictures)
  • Peter Dinklage — “She Came to Me” (Vertical Entertainment)
  • Jason Mamoa — “Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom” (Warner Bros.)
  • Xolo Maridueña — “Blue Beetle” (Warner Bros.)
  • Timothée Chalamet — “Wonka” (Warner Bros.)
  • Harrison Ford — “Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny” (Warner Bros.)
  • Jonah Hauer-King — “The Little Mermaid” (Walt Disney Pictures)

2022 category winner: Brendan Fraser, “The Whale” (A24)

** indicates an unconfirmed release date in 2023 or could campaign in the lead or supporting categories. All release dates are subject to change.

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