This article contains IndieWire’s preliminary Best Actor predictions for the 2023 Oscars. We regularly update our predictions throughout awards season, and republish previous versions (like this one) for readers to track changes in how the Oscar race has changed. For the latest update on the frontrunners for the 95th Academy Awards, see our 2023 Oscars predictions hub.
Nominations voting is from January 12-17, 2023, with official Oscar nominations announced January 24, 2023. Final voting is March 2-7, 2023. And finally, the 95th Oscars telecast will be broadcast on Sunday, March 12 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 2023 Oscar picks.
The State of the Race
Familiar faces lead the Best Actor fray. Oscar-winners back in contention include Daniel Kaluuya (“Judas and the Black Messiah”) as a rural horse wrangler taking on an extraterrestrial threat in his “Get Out” director Jordan Peele’s “Nope” (Universal); Colin Firth engaging with Olivia Colman in Sam Mendes’ cinephile romance “Empire of Light” (Searchlight Pictures), Christian Bale rejoining director David O. Russell’s world in madcap comedy “Amsterdam” (20th Century Studios), and also reuniting with favorite collaborator Scott Cooper as a detective who meets the young Edgar Allan Poe (Harry Melling) in “The Pale Blue Eye” (Netflix). And Brad Pitt teams up with his “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” costar Margot Robbie in Damien Chazelle’s look at Old Hollywood, “Babylon” (Paramount).
Vying for their first wins are “Les Miserables” nominee Hugh Jackman, who stars as a beleaguered parent in Florian Zeller’s adaptation of his play “The Son” (Sony Pictures Classics); and Adam Driver, who follows up his nomination in Noah Baumbach’s “Marriage Story” with their latest film together, “White Noise” (Netflix), in which Driver plays Don DeLillo’s pretentious professor.
Several actors whose films premiered at Sundance and Cannes are hoping to land their first Oscar nominations. In Sundance debut “Living” (SPC), British thespian Bill Nighy plays a character drawn from Akira Kurosawa’s “Ikiru,” who changes his life when faced with death; Austin Butler earned raves as the King of Rock n Roll in Baz Luhrmann’s Cannes entry “Elvis” (Warner Bros.); and Park Hae-il plays a homicide detective in love with a murder suspect in Park Chan-wook’s Cannes director-winner “Decision to Leave” (Mubi).
Meanwhile, never-nominated comedy star Adam Sandler (though he came close with “Uncut Gems”) scored raves in sports dramedy “Hustle,” which Netflix is promoting for awards, though it skipped the festival circuit.
Many films will complicate the season out of the fall festivals. These include A.G. Inarritu’s likely Mexican Oscar entry “Bardo (or False Chronicle of a Handful of Truths)” (Netflix) starring Daniel Giménez Cacho as an artist returning to his home country; “Parasite” star Song Kang-ho, who plays an adoption agent in Hirokazu Koreeda’s “Broker” (Neon), which premiered in Cannes and next heads to TIFF; Brendan Fraser as an obese man trying to connect with his daughter in Darren Aronofsky’s “The Whale” (A24); Colin Farrell reunited with “In Bruges” star Brendan Gleeson in Martin McDonagh’s “The Banshees of Inisherin” (Searchlight); with “Chevalier” (Searchlight Pictures), “Cyrano” star Kelvin Harrison Jr. takes on the composer Chevalier de Saint-Georges, the illegitimate son of an African slave and a French plantation owner; and Jack O’Connell is the gardener who has sex with proper Emma Corrin in the latest iteration of D. H. Lawrence’s “Lady Chatterley’s Lover” (Netflix).
Contenders are listed in alphabetical order, below. No actor will be deemed a frontrunner until I have seen the film.
Austin Butler (“Elvis”)
Park Hae-il (“Decision to Leave”)
Daniel Kaluuya (“Nope”)
Bill Nighy (“Living”)
Adam Sandler (“Hustle”)
Christian Bale (“Amsterdam,” “The Pale Blue Eye”)
Daniel Giménez Cacho (“Bardo (or False Chronicle of a Handful of Truths)”
Adam Driver (“White Noise”)
Colin Farrell (“The Banshees of Inisherin”)
Colin Firth (“Empire of Light”)
Brendan Fraser (“The Whale”)
Brendan Gleeson (“The Banshees of Inisherin”)
Kelvin Harrison Jr. (“Chevalier”)
Hugh Jackman (“The Son”)
Brad Pitt (“Babylon”)
Eddie Redmayne (“The Good Nurse”)
Song Kang-ho (“Broker”)
Timothée Chalamet (“Bones and All”)
Tom Cruise (“Top Gun: Maverick”)
Harris Dickinson (“Triangle of Sadness”)
Jalil Hall (“Till”)
Paul Mescal (“Aftersun”)
Jack O’Connell (“Lady Chatterley’s Lover”)
Robert Pattinson (“The Batman”)
Cooper Raiff (“Cha Cha Real Smooth”)
Banks Repeta (“Armageddon Time”)
Sam Worthington (“Avatar: The Way of Water”)