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Final Oscar Predictions: Best Actor – Cillian Murphy Set to Edge Out Paul Giamatti and Jeffrey Wright

Final Oscar Predictions: Best Actor – Cillian Murphy Set to Edge Out Paul Giamatti and Jeffrey Wright

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

THE HOLDOVERS, Paul Giamatti, 2023. ph: Seacia Pavao / © Focus Features / Courtesy Everett Collection
THE HOLDOVERS, Paul Giamatti, 2023. ph: Seacia Pavao / © Focus Features / Courtesy Everett Collection

Weekly Commentary (Updated March 7, 2024): The realm of lead actor has been ruled by Cillian Murphy’s captivating portrayal in Nolan’s cinematic opus “Oppenheimer.” However, the final stretch of voting has seen two seasoned industry stalwarts – Paul Giamatti from “The Holdovers” and Jeffrey Wright from “American Fiction” – make formidable strides. While Murphy maintains a firm grip, one cannot discount the allure of a career narrative swaying voters.

I also think Giamatti and Wright are pulling from the same voting demographic: Americans and those who like to recognize career achievements.

Nonetheless, after Golden Globe, BAFTA and SAG triumphs, Murphy looks to be on his way.

Will Win: Cillian Murphy (“Oppenheimer”)
Could Win: Paul Giamatti (“The Holdovers”)
Should Win: Colman Domingo (“Rustin”)
Should have been here: Andrew Scott (“All of Us Strangers”) and Glenn Howerton (“BlackBerry”)

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. Cillian Murphy — “Oppenheimer” (Universal Pictures)

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

  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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