2024 Oscars: Best Actor Predictions

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

One of the closer races throughout awards season has been for Best Actor. It had long been predicted that Cillian Murphy would remain in the conversation for playing the titular role in “Oppenheimer,” but as the televised award shows kicked off at the very beginning of 2024, the Irish star had won a Golden Globe, but lost the Critics Choice Award to “The Holdovers” star Paul Giamatti.

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Though Giamatti gave a very thoughtful speech at said awards show, the moment really seemed like a wake up call for the “Oppenheimer” team as a whole. Having the charismatic Robert Downey Jr. and revered Christopher Nolan in his corner, both sailing toward Oscar wins, making plenty of acceptance speeches that laud his performance, has really boosted Murphy’s chances of winning Best Actor. By the time he won the SAG Award, with “Oppenheimer” winning Best Ensemble, that just about sealed the deal.

This all definitely is not a total loss for Giamatti, who now has re-established himself as a viable movie star after years of primarily working on a premium cable series, and gets one step further into Academy voters good graces after memorably being snubbed for “Sideways,” another Alexander Payne film.

While Colman Domingo won less awards, attending the Oscars as the sole nominee for “Rustin,” it says a lot that he was so consistently nominated. Though voters might have missed out on the film he is being recognized for, Domingo is certainly on their radars as an actor to keep track of.

Similar things could be said about Jeffrey Wright, though the point made about his nominated performance in “American Fiction,” writer-director Cord Jefferson’s feature debut, is that the veteran character actor should probably be given lead roles more often.

Sadly, “Maestro” writer, director, and star has really become a punching bag this year. Sure, there is truth to the idea of people being put off by someone wanting it too badly, but how else is someone supposed to feel when they are now at 12 nominations without a win. It does not seem like his film will go empty-handed, as its Oscar nominated hair and makeup team has received a ton of acclaim, but it sure does seem like enough people have soured on Cooper’s portrayal of Leonard Bernstein to make him winning Best Actor unlikely.

Nominees are listed below in order of likelihood they will win.

Cillian Murphy (“Oppenheimer”)
Paul Giamatti (“The Holdovers”)
Colman Domingo (“Rustin”)
Jeffrey Wright (“American Fiction”)
Bradley Cooper (“Maestro”)

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