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Oscars: Best Actor – Paul Giamatti Leads the Race, but Keep Close Eye on SAG to Determine Ultimate Victor

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.

Visit the prediction pages for the respective ceremonies via the links below:

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2024 Oscars Predictions:
Best Actor

American Fiction
American Fiction

Weekly Commentary (Updated Feb. 22, 2024): The SAG Awards will be even more critical this year as the guild recognizes all five Oscar-nominated leading men. This could either put it to bed for Paul Giamatti for his work as a cranky teacher in “The Holdovers,” or it could be the place Cillian Murphy shows that “Oppenheimer” isn’t just winning best picture; it’s translating a majority of its 13 nominations into wins.

I am tracking Jeffrey Wright for his inaugural “American Fiction” nomination as a potential SAG spoiler. When respected actors are invited to the party, a groundswell of support can bubble to the top, and as a journeyman actor for multiple decades who haven’t received the list of roles and accolades he deserved, this could be an opportunity to reward him accordingly (and his film).

BAFTA, where Wright isn’t nominated, could be another tide-changer for Bradley Cooper to turn it around for “Maestro” or potentially even Colman Domingo in “Rustin.” However, Murphy has a home-field advantage and could edge out his competitors.

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

The 96th Oscars will be held on Sunday, March 10.


And the Nominees Are:


  1. Paul Giamatti — “The Holdovers” (Focus Features)

  2. Cillian Murphy — “Oppenheimer” (Universal Pictures)

  3. Jeffrey Wright — “American Fiction” (MGM)

  4. Bradley Cooper — “Maestro” (Netflix)

  5. Colman Domingo — “Rustin” (Netflix)


Eligiblities From 2023 (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)

Oscars Predictions Categories

BEST PICTURE | DIRECTOR | BEST ACTOR | BEST ACTRESS | SUPPORTING ACTOR | SUPPORTING ACTRESS | ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY | ADAPTED SCREENPLAY | ANIMATED FEATURE | PRODUCTION DESIGN | CINEMATOGRAPHY | COSTUME DESIGN | FILM EDITING | MAKEUP & HAIRSTYLING | SOUND | VISUAL EFFECTS | ORIGINAL SCORE | ORIGINAL SONG | DOCUMENTARY FEATURE | INTERNATIONAL FEATURE | ANIMATED SHORT | DOCUMENTARY SHORT | LIVE ACTION SHORT

About the Academy Awards

The Academy Awards, better known as the Oscars, is Hollywood’s most prestigious artistic award in the film industry. Since 1927, nominees and winners have been selected by members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS). Seventeen branches are represented within the nearly 10,000-person membership. The branches are actors, associates, casting directors, cinematographers, costume designers, directors, documentary, executives, film editors, makeup and hairstylists, marketing and public relations, members-at-large, members-at-large (artists’ representatives), music, producers, production design, short films and feature animation, sound, visual effects and writers.

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