Academy Awards Odds: Who Wins Best Actor?

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Academy Awards Odds: Who Wins Best Actor?

With the Oscar voting coming to a close today, one of the most highly anticipated categories of this year's edition of the Academy Awards is for Actor in a Leading Role. Nominees ages range from 27 (Mescal) to 73 (Nighy) and all five performances have been some of the most powerful from the brimming selection throughout this awards season. For the first time in decades, this is the first Oscar nomination for all five contenders. So whoever wins, would win on their very first nomination!

Let's look at the 2023 top contenders and predictions for the Oscar winner.

Best Actor Nominees:

  • Austin Butler (Elvis)
  • Colin Farrell (The Banshees Of Inisherin)
  • Brendan Fraser (The Whale)
  • Paul Mescal (Aftersun)
  • Bill Nighy (Living)
Oscars 2023 Best Actor Awards Won

Best Actor: The State of the Race

There seems to be a three-way tie here to take home the golden statue. The favourites are Colin Farrell, Austin Butler and Brendan Fraser who have all received nominations at the major film awards. 

So far, Austin Butler and Colin Farrell have won at the Golden Globes (for Best Actor in a drama and in a comedy, respectively). Butler has also taken home a BAFTA, while Brendan Fraser has won the Best Actor award at Critics' Choice Award and Screen Actor's Guild (SAG) events. It came as no surprise that all three were included when the nominations were announced.

It was harder to predict whether Mescal and Nighy would make the cut as other actors, including Jeremy Pope, Hugh Jackman or even Diego Calva, were in the mix and predicted nominees yet failed to get any Oscar nods this year, despite nominations at the Golden Globes, SAG Awards and more.

Historically, this award's winners have their movies simultaneously nominated for Best Picture. Of the five contenders for the actor award this year, only two films are Best Picture nominees: The Banshees of Inisherin and Elvis.

Let's delve a little deeper into each of the talented contenders.

Brendan Fraser

Fraser plays Charlie: a morbidly obese man and a reclusive who teaches English online. Fraser gives a powerful performance of this man trying to restore his relationship with his estranged daughter.

The Whale is a psychological thriller directed by Darren Aronofsky. Despite missing out on a Best Director nod this time round, he has directed multiple Oscar-nominated performances over the years. These include Ellen Burstyn for Requiem for a Dream, Mickey Rourke and Marisa Tomei for the Wrestler and Natalie Portman in Black Swan, who won the Oscar for Best Actress. Perhaps this is another year when Aronofsky’s masterful direction earns the Canadian-American an Academy Award for his first Oscar nomination.

The Whale has received mixed reviews, but there is no confusion regarding Fraser’s performance. We know Fraser from action films, including his lead role in The Mummy franchise, Journey to the Centre of the Earth and George of the Jungle. His performance as Charlie is a very deep and emotional one in this thrilling drama - very different from what we have previously seen him in. Plus, because of the talented (and Oscar-nominated) makeup department, the audience witnesses Fraser's physical transformation into a 600-pound man with hours of prep and prosthetics. In the past, we have seen Gary Oldman take home the Best Actor award for his transformation into Churchill in The Darkest Hour.

On top of that, the comeback narrative of the Canadian-American, along with his humble and tearful reactions to the numerous standing ovations he has received, have certainly earned the compassion and support of his fans and fellow filmmakers, it may be another factor that sways the Oscar voters too.

Austin Butler

Butler’s Elvis Presley has been greatly praised and has generated a lot of buzz since it premiered at the Cannes Film Festival. Not only has he gained attention for his preparation for the role (as well as his lingering “Elvis voice”), but also his commitment to performing the songs himself. Because of his extended pre-production period, Butler was able to completely immerse himself to connect with Elvis’ character by taking up Elvis’ hobbies and learning his iconic songs and dance style.

Austin's portrayal of the king of rock 'n' roll is not the first Academy Award nomination for a musical biopic depicting a musician. It’s a popular sub-genre, frequently earning actors a place at the Oscars. Just from the last two decades alone, we have seen several actors nominated or win the Oscar for Best Actor for portraying a famous musician. The list of actors and actresses includes:

  • Nominated:
    • Viola Davis as Ma Rainey (Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom)
    • Joaquin Pheonix as Johnny Cash (Walk the Line)
  • Won:
    • Jamie Foxx as Ray Charles (Ray)
    • Marion Cotillaird as Edith Piaf (La Vie en Rose)
    • Rami Malek as Freddie Mercury (Bohemian Rhapsody)
    • Renee Zellweger as Judy Garland (Judy)

Colin Farrell

Third in the race is one of the two Irish contenders: Colin Farrell. He was nominated for a BAFTA, a SAG award and many more. He has received as many nominations as Butler and Fraser, yet from all the major awards, he has so far taken home the Golden Globe for Best Actor in a Comedy.

Farrell's Pádraic is a loveable yet simple man who finds difficulty in accepting his lifelong friend's decision to abruptly cut ties with him absurdly while living on a remote Irish island.

This is the second time Farrell and co-star Brendan Gleeson (fellow Oscar nominee in the Best Supporting Actor category) have worked together with Martin McDonagh. They had worked on the film In Bruges, and over a decade later, they reunited for this excellent movie.

We cannot help but credit the harmony, dedication, and chemistry of the whole cast of Irish actors. So it comes as no surprise how well all the cast has done in the awards race, earning plenty of nominations and wins. Banshees of Inisherin has earned nine Oscar nominations. It's the film that received the second-highest number of Academy nominations this year (after Everything Everywhere All At Once). Will Farrell take home the Oscar? Maybe. But the Banshees of Inisherin will undoubtedly go home with several awards on the night.

Bill Nighy

The underdogs in this year's race are British veteran Bill Nighy and the rising Irish star Paul Mescal. Both actors have received several nominations for their stellar performances, yet they seem to always lose out to Fraser and Butler and sometimes to Farrell.

In the Kurosawa adaption of 'Ikiru,' the film 'Living' is set in 1950s London and Bill Nighy's character, a government manager in the Public Works department, learns of his terminal illness. We follow the character as he decides how to spend the last few months of his life, attempting to turn his monotonous routine lifestyle into something more meaningful.

Paul Mescal

Aftersun has gotten quite some attention as the debut of writer and director Charlotte Wells and Mescal's powerful performance has picked up a couple of major nominations at the BAFTAs and Critics’ Choice Awards too.

Aftersun is a coming-of-age story of Sophie's reflections on a holiday with her loving father yet depressed 20 years earlier. Eleven-year-old Sophie is at a delicate age - still very much a child but experiencing the changes into adolescence- spending quality time with her father on a summer vacation in Turkey. We see several powerful moments, quiet and subtle, where Mescal's sadness is shown.

95th Academy Awards - Best Actor Odds

The 2023 Oscars predictions seem to favour Austin Butler or Brendan Fraser. Let's have a look at the Oscar odds:

Brendan Fraser1.501.53
Austin Butler2.302.37
Colin Farrell18.0015.00
Paul Mescal51.0041.00
Bill Nighy51.0051.00

Which actor will emerge victorious at the Oscars?

Whoever ends up winning on Oscar night, the celebration of exceptional movies and performances will all be celebrated. We have seen various predictions and odds of who would win, but ultimately, any of the nominees would deserve it. Just like with the Best Actress Nominees, it's certainly not an easy bet to predict the winner, but it's certainly exciting watching these accomplished actors get worthy attention. Let's hope this year, the winner doesn't get on stage too early and Jimmy Kimmel is left unscathed.

94th Academy Awards Winner for Best Actor: Will Smith (King Richard)

95th Academy Awards: Sunday, March 12, Dolby Theatre

🏆 Predicted Winner: Brendan Fraser (The Whale)

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