Oscar Predictions: Best Actor – Colin Farrell’s Academy Moment Has Arrived, Paul Mescal and Adam Sandler Gain Traction

Other contenders include Austin Butler, Tom Cruise, Brendan Fraser, Hugh Jackman and Bill Nighy

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 are Davis’ assessment of the current standings of the race and do not reflect personal preferences for any film or performance. Like any organization or body that votes, each individual category is fluid and subject to change. Predictions are updated every Thursday.

LAST UPDATED: Dec. 2, 2022

2023 Oscars Predictions: Best Actor


CATEGORY COMMENTARY: Colin Farrell is working his way up the rankings, taking the top spot for the first time on the prediction charts for his work in “The Banshees of Inisherin.” With the Volpi Cup out of Venice and now the New York Film Critics Circle, which was a shared prize with his other work in “After Yang,” he’s beaten frontrunner Brendan Fraser for “The Whale,’ on two occasions. While it’s still plenty early and anything can still happen. It’s worth noting the accomplishment of the Irish actor in a film that is also currently holding the number one spot in best picture.

That doesn’t mean Austin Butler can’t sneak in and take it for his work in Baz Luhrmann’s “Elvis,” which continues to screen like gangbusters for voters.

Also rising this week is Adam Sandler for “Hustle,” following an incredible Gotham Awards speech and Paul Mescal for “Aftersun,” who’s movie is still being discovered with love pouring in.

See the latest film predictions, in all 23 categories, in one place on Variety’s Oscars Collective. To see the ranked predictions for each individual category, visit Variety’s Oscars Hub.

Find the SAG Awards predictions for film and Golden Globe predictions in all of the film categories on their respective pages.

See the 2022-2023 Awards Season calendar for all key dates and timelines.


AFTERSUN, Paul Mescal, 2022. © A24 / Courtesy Everett Collection Courtesy Everett Collection

And The Predicted Nominees Are:
1Colin Farrell“The Banshees of Inisherin”Searchlight Pictures
Two lifelong friends find themselves at an impasse when one abruptly ends their relationship, with alarming consequences for both of them.
2Brendan Fraser“The Whale”A24
A reclusive English teacher suffering from severe obesity attempts to reconnect with his estranged teenage daughter for one last chance at redemption.
3Austin Butler“Elvis”Warner Bros
Biopic of Elvis Presley, from his childhood to becoming a rock and movie star in the 1950s while maintaining a complex relationship with his manager, Colonel Tom Parker.
4Bill Nighy“Living”Sony Pictures Classics
An English-language adaptation of the script of “Ikiru” (1952), set in London in the 1950s.
5Hugh Jackman“The Son”Sony Pictures Classics
Peter as his busy life with new partner Emma and their baby is thrown into disarray when his ex-wife Kate turns up with their teenage son, Nicholas.
Next in Line
6Tom Cruise“Top Gun: Maverick”Paramount Pictures
After thirty years, Maverick is still pushing the envelope as a top naval aviator, but must confront ghosts of his past when he leads TOP GUN’s elite graduates on a mission that demands the ultimate sacrifice from those chosen to fly it.

7Adam Sandler“Hustle”Netflix
A basketball scout discovers a phenomenal street ball player while in Spain and sees the prospect as his opportunity to get back into the NBA.
8Will Smith“Emancipation”Apple Original Films
A runaway slave forges through the swamps of Louisiana on a tortuous journey to escape plantation owners that nearly killed him.
9Paul Mescal“Aftersun”A24
Sophie reflects on the shared joy and private melancholy of a holiday she took with her father twenty years earlier. Memories real and imagined fill the gaps between as she tries to reconcile the father she knew with the man she didn’t.

10Gabriel LaBelle“The Fabelmans”Universal Pictures
A semi-autobiography based on Spielberg’s own childhood growing up in post-war Arizona, from age seven to eighteen.
Other Top-Tier Contenders
11Jonathan Majors“Devotion”Sony Pictures
12Tom Hanks“A Man Called Otto”Sony Pictures
13Jeremy Pope“The Inspection”A24
14Diego Calva“Babylon”Paramount Pictures
15Timothée Chalamet“Bones and All”MGM/United Artists Releasing
16Song Kang-ho“Broker”Neon
17Colin Farrell“After Yang”A24
18Ralph Fiennes“The Menu”Searchlight Pictures
19Eden Dambrine“Close”A24
20Adam Driver“White Noise”Netflix
Also In Contention
21Harris Dickinson“Triangle of Sadness”Neon
22Wes Studi“A Love Song”Bleecker Street
23Daniel Kaluuya“Nope”Universal Pictures
24Christian Bale“The Pale Blue Eye”Netflix
25Jim Parsons“Spoiler Alert”Focus Features
26Sam Worthington“Avatar: The Way of Water”20th Century Studios
27Park Hae-il“Decision to Leave”Mubi
28Ricardo Darín“Argentina, 1985”Amazon Studios
29N.T. Rama Rao Jr.“RRR”Variance Films
30Ram Charan Teja“RRR”Variance Films
Unranked Possible Contenders
Adam Sandler“Hustle”Netflix
Alexander Skarsgård“The Northman”Focus Features
Antonio Banderas“Official Competition”IFC Films
Austin Butler“Elvis”Warner Bros.
Ben Kingsley“Dalíland”No U.S. Distribution
Benedict Cumberbatch“Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness”Marvel Studios
Bill Nighy“Living”Sony Pictures Classics
Billy Eichner“Bros”Universal Pictures
Brad Pitt“Bullet Train”Sony Pictures
Brendan Fraser“The Whale”A24
Caleb Landry Jones“Nitram”IFC Films
Channing Tatum“Dog”MGM/United Artists Releasing
Chris Evans“The Gray Man”Netflix
Chris Evans“Lightyear”Pixar
Chris Hemsworth“Thor: Love and Thunder”Marvel Studios
Chris Pine“All the Old Knives”Amazon Studios
Christian Bale“Amsterdam”20th Century Studios
Christian Bale“The Pale Blue Eye”Netflix
Colin Farrell“After Yang”A24
Colin Farrell“The Banshees of Inisherin”Searchlight Pictures
Cooper Raiff“Cha Cha Real Smooth”Apple Original Films
Daniel Craig“Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery”Netflix
Daniel Giménez Cacho“Bardo, False Chronicle of a Handful of Truths”Netflix
Daniel Kaluuya“Nope”Universal Pictures
Daniel Zolghardi“Funny Pages”A24
Daryl McCormack“Good Luck to You, Leo Grande”Searchlight Pictures
David Earl“Brian and Charles”Focus Features
David Howard Thornton“Terrifier 2”Cinedigm
Diego Calva“Babylon”Paramount Pictures
Donald Elise Watkins“Emergency”Amazon Studios
Dwayne Johnson“Black Adam”Warner Bros
Eden Dambrine“Close”A24
Ethan Hawke*“Raymond & Ray”Apple Original Films
Ewan McGregor*“Raymond & Ray”Apple Original Films
Fleix Kammerer“All Quiet on the Western Front”Netflix
Gabrielle LaBelle“The Fabelmans”Universal Pictures
George Clooney“Ticket to Paradise”Universal Pictures
Gregory Mann“Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio”Netflix
Harris Dickinson“Triangle of Sadness”Neon
Hugh Bonneville“Downton Abbey: A New Era”Focus Features
Hugh Jackman“The Son”Sony Pictures Classics
Idris Elba“Three Thousand Years of Longing”MGM/United Artists Releasing
Jack O’Connell“Lady Chatterley’s Lover”Netflix
Jake Gyllenhaal“Ambulance”Universal Pictures
Javier Bardem“Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile”Sony Pictures
Jim Parsons“Spoiler Alert”Focus Features
John Boyega“Breaking”Bleecker Street
Jonathan Majors“Devotion”Sony Pictures
Jordan Peele“Wendell and Wild”Netflix
Justin Chatwin“The Walk”Vertical Entertainment
Karl Urban“The Sea Beast”Netflix
Keegan-Michael Key“Wendell and Wild”Netflix
Mark Rylance“The Outfit”Focus Features
Mark Rylance“The Phantom of the Open”Sony Pictures Classics
Mehdi Bajestani“Holy Spider”Utopia
Michael Banks Repeta“Armageddon Time”Focus Features
N.T. Rama Rao Jr.“RRR”Variance Films
Nicolas Cage“The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent”Lionsgate
Nicolas Cage“Butcher’s Crossing”Saban Films
Owen Teague“Montana Story”Bleecker Street
Park Hae-il“Decision to Leave”Mubi
Pascal Greggory“One Fine Morning”Sony Pictures Classics
Patton Oswalt“I Love My Dad”Magnolia Pictures
Paul Mescal“Aftersun”A24
Ralph Fiennes“The Forgiven”Focus Features
Ralph Fiennes“The Menu”Searchlight Pictures
Ram Charan Teja“RRR”Variance Films
Ricardo Darín“Argentina, 1985”Amazon Studios
RJ Cyler“Emergency”Amazon Studios
Robert Pattinson“The Batman”Warner Bros.
Ryan Gosling“The Gray Man”Netflix
Sam Rockwell“See How They Run”Searchlight Pictures
Sam Worthington“Avatar: The Way of Water”20th Century Studios
Song Kang-ho“Broker”Neon
Ṣọpẹ́ Dìrísù“Mr. Malcolm’s List”Bleecker Street
Sterling K. Brown“Honk for Jesus. Save Your Soul”Universal Pictures
Steve Coogan*“The Lost King”Warner Bros.
Tim Roth“Resurrection”IFC Films
Timothée Chalamet“Bones and All”MGM/United Artists Releasing
Tom Cruise“Top Gun: Maverick”Paramount Pictures
Tom Hanks“A Man Called Otto”Sony Pictures
Viggo Mortensen“Crimes of the Future”Neon
Vincent Lindon“Both Side of the Blade”IFC Films
Wes Studi“A Love Song”Bleecker Street
Will Ferrell“Spirited”Apple Original Films
Will Smith“Emancipation”Apple Original Films
Zac Efron“The Greatest Beer Run Ever”Apple Original Films

2023 Academy Awards Predictions


The 95th Oscars ceremony will be held at the Dolby Theatre and televised live on ABC on Sunday, March 12, 2022.

2022 category winner: Will Smith, “King Richard” (Warner Bros.)

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