Briefing

Which actors will win an Oscar in 2023?

Our predictions for which actors will be taking home the 2023 statuettes

The race to the 2023 Oscars is well underway, with the announcement of this year's nominees in sight. In the wake of the Golden Globe Awards, who might repeat their victory at the Academy Awards? Let's take a look at the field as it stands in January 2023: 

The latest

The Golden Globes and Screen Actors Guild Awards have finally helped clarify this year's most unpredictable Oscar race.

At the time of our last update, Best Supporting Actress looked like the most wide-open Oscar race in years. But there now appears to be a potential frontrunner: Angela Bassett, who scored a surprise win at the Golden Globe Awards and followed it up with a nomination at the SAG Awards. She's now our predicted winner in the category after she wasn't even on our previous list at all. We previously had Claire Foy forecasted to win, but her film, Women Talking, has been losing momentum in the Oscar race. Foy wasn't nominated at the SAG Awards or the Golden Globes, nor did she make the British Academy Film Awards' longlist of 10 potential nominees. So Foy has been removed entirely, as has her co-star Jessie Buckley, who similarly was snubbed by SAG, the Golden Globes, and BAFTA. 

She Said's Carey Mulligan has also been removed from the list. Though she actually was nominated at the Golden Globes and made the BAFTA longlist, she was snubbed by SAG and the Critics' Choice Awards, and given She Said has underperformed this season so far (with zero Globe nominations aside from her), the Oscar nod is becoming an uphill battle. But we've added Stephanie Hsu back in for Everything Everywhere All at Once, partially because that film is looking like a stronger Best Picture contender each day and also because SAG gave her a boost with a nomination. Kerry Condon has also been added back in for The Banshees of Inisherin after consistently earning precursor nods and thanks to the film itself gaining a Best Picture boost at the Globes. 

In the Best Actor race, Hugh Jackman has been removed after being on our list all season long. His film, The Son, bombed with critics, and he was snubbed by the SAG Awards, BAFTA, and Critics' Choice Awards, so his Globe nomination probably isn't enough to get him in. A surprise dark horse contender has replaced Jackman: Paul Mescal for Aftersun.

Moving over to Best Supporting Actor, Ben Whishaw from Women Talking has been removed after being snubbed by the Golden Globes and SAG Awards, though he isn't totally out of the running considering he made the BAFTA longlist and was nominated at the Critics' Choice Awards. For now, he has been replaced by Barry Keoghan from Banshees, whom the Globes, SAG Awards, BAFTA longlist, and Critics' Choice Awards all recognized. 

Finally, we're now predicting a Best Actress nod for Viola Davis from The Woman King. She has replaced Margot Robbie from Babylon, a film that has proved divisive and bombed at the box office. Robbie did earn Globe and Critics' Choice Awards nominations, but she was snubbed by SAG and not present on the BAFTA longlist. 

Best Actor

  • Austin Butler (Elvis)
  • Colin Farrell (The Banshees of Inisherin)   
  • Brendan Fraser (The Whale)
  • Paul Mescal (Aftersun)
  • Bill Nighy (Living

Predicted winner: Austin Butler (Elvis)

Best Actor is looking like a competitive three-way race between Austin Butler, Brendan Fraser, and Colin Farrell, and at this point, it's anybody's game. 

Fraser has drawn universal acclaim for his performance as a 600-pound man in Darren Aronofsky's The Whale, even among people who otherwise didn't care for the film, and the Academy loves the kind of transformation that he is doing here. Plus, Fraser's campaign comes with a compelling comeback narrative, as the actor has been largely out of the spotlight in the past decade. In 2018, he told GQ he felt "reclusive" after he was allegedly sexually assaulted by a former president of the group behind the Golden Globes. He made headlines — and earned widespread praise — after announcing he would refuse to attend the Golden Globes as a result. And virtually every time The Whale screened in the fall, a clip went viral showing Fraser tearing up as he received a standing ovation. Who wouldn't want to root for the guy? 

Fraser also received a boost when he was honored with a tribute award at the Toronto International Film Festival, which in recent years has gone to performers who went on to win an Oscar like Jessica Chastain, Anthony Hopkins, and Joaquin Phoenix. A nomination for Fraser is certainly a done deal, as he has already earned nods at the Golden Globes, SAG Awards, and Critics' Choice Awards. He also made the British Academy Film Awards' longlist of potential nominees. 

Yet The Whale is a brutally emotional movie that proved divisive among critics and could be similarly divisive with the Academy. Slant described it as "cinematic misery porn," and there has been debate about whether the film, which features Fraser wearing a "fat suit," is fatphobic. At Polygon, Katie Rife criticized The Whale for failing to show "empathy and curiosity about people" of its protagonist's size, writing that it "proceeds from the assumption that a 600-pound man is inherently unlovable" and could be "actively harmful to some audiences." Though the Independent Spirit Awards don't always overlap with the Oscars, it was also a bit of a red flag when Fraser was unexpectedly snubbed there

So we're betting Best Actor will go to the lead of a film that's more of a crowd-pleaser: Austin Butler for Elvis. For one, the Academy has historically gravitated toward actors playing real people, from Will Smith as Richard Williams and Jessica Chastain as Tammy Faye to Rami Malek as Freddie Mercury, Renée Zellweger as Judy Garland, Gary Oldman as Winston Churchill, and many more. No one who's seen Elvis can deny that Butler accurately channels Presley to a spooky degree, so much so that when the movie switches to real Elvis footage, it's not immediately clear we aren't still watching Butler. 

Butler also already won a Golden Globe over Fraser. That doesn't necessarily guarantee an Oscar win — and Fraser's loss could have had to do with the fact that he announced he wouldn't attend the ceremony because of his groping allegations against the HFPA's former president — but in the past decade, every Best Actor Oscar winner had previously won a Golden Globe with the exception of Anthony Hopkins in 2021. 

The big drawback with Butler is that it has been difficult for younger actors like him to win Oscars in the past. He's only 31, which would make him one of the youngest Best Actor winners ever. But we still think the race could end up being a repeat of the 2009 Oscars, when the lead of a bleak Darren Aronofsky movie, Mickey Rourke in The Wrestler, lost to an actor playing a real person, Sean Penn in Milk. We can already hear the cries of Twitter screaming, "Brendan was robbed!" 

But don't count out Colin Farrell for The Banshees of Inisherin, which features what Next Best Picture's Matt Neglia called the "most deeply layered work" of his career. The movie has emerged as a serious contender to win Best Picture — whereas The Whale and Elvis don't really have a shot — especially after winning Best Motion Picture - Comedy or Musical at the Golden Globes. Farrell also won Best Actor - Motion Picture Comedy or Musical at the Globes, so his win would keep up that statistic of Oscar winners usually winning a Globe first. The actor's speech at the Globes gave him an opportunity to leave an impression on the Academy right before nomination voting begins, which Fraser didn't have the opportunity to do, so Farrell could actually be in second place behind Butler.

Farrell also previously won the Volpi Cup for Best Actor at the Venice Film Festival, an award some pundits thought Fraser would take. It's perhaps less of a "showy" performance than either Fraser or Butler — there's nothing in Banshees as big as the show-stopping finale of Elvis — but if the Academy also considers the fact that Farrell has somehow never even been nominated for an Oscar, he could be a real threat to win. But it could hurt Farrell that Banshees is much more of a downer than Elvis

Those are our main contenders, so who will earn the last two spots? One will likely go to Bill Nighy for Living. At age 72, it would be the acclaimed actor's first Oscar nomination ever, and Time Out said he gives a "career-best performance" in the film. Plus, Nighy has already been nominated at the Golden Globes, Critics' Choice Awards, and SAG Awards, and he made the BAFTA longlist, though a win for him is a long shot. 

The final predicted nominee is much more of a dark horse: Paul Mescal for Aftersun. The disadvantage for him is that the film is smaller and more challenging than some of the other contenders, as it's deliberately slow-paced and requires quite a bit of patience from the viewer. But while Mescal wasn't nominated at the Globes or at the SAG Awards, he was at the Critics' Choice Awards, and he made the BAFTA longlist. There's also clearly passion for the film, which was one of 2022's most well-reviewed movies. 

If Mescal doesn't get in, as crazy as it might sound, that last spot could go to Tom Cruise for Top Gun: Maverick. The film is almost guaranteed a Best Picture nomination at this point unlike Aftersun, and Cruise made the BAFTA longlist and was nominated at the Critics' Choice Awards. Then again, he was snubbed at the Golden Globes despite the film being nominated for the top prize. 

Also watch out for Adam Sandler for Hustle. A nomination for him would be a big surprise, but it's within the realm of possibility after he was nominated at the SAG Awards. 

Best Actress

  • Cate Blanchett (Tár)
  • Viola Davis (The Woman King)
  • Danielle Deadwyler (Till)
  • Michelle Williams (The Fabelmans)
  • Michelle Yeoh (Everything Everywhere All At Once)

Predicted winner: Cate Blanchett (Tár)

Best Actress, meanwhile, looks like a two-way race that has come down to two women who already won Golden Globes: Cate Blanchett and Michelle Yeoh. 

Yeoh has received rapturous reviews for Everything Everywhere All At Once, and her campaign received an early boost when she was honored with a TIFF tribute award, the same key Oscar precursor Fraser received. Since 2019, there has never been a year when at least one of the TIFF tribute winners didn't also win an acting Oscar. Yeoh went on to win the Golden Globe for Best Actress - Motion Picture Comedy or Musical. 

But more importantly, Yeoh gave what was widely considered one of the 2023 Golden Globes' most memorable speeches, in which she spoke of this as a moment 40 years in the making. Days before voting on the nominations begins, she will have reminded the Academy that she's an actress with decades of great work under her belt but who has never been nominated for an Oscar, and the idea that she should finally be recognized is one everyone can get behind. Plus, would you believe Yeoh would become the first Asian woman to ever win Best Actress? 

One wrinkle with Yeoh is that her co-star Ke Huy Quan is looking locked to win Best Supporting Actor. So it all comes down to whether Everything Everywhere All at Once is a strong enough contender to win half the night's acting awards. It very well may be, but the film is also so chaotic and wacky that it's easy to imagine some voters won't know what to make of it. It also seemed like a slight red flag when Yeoh failed to win Outstanding Lead Performance at the Gotham Awards — Danielle Deadwyler instead won for Till — despite Everything Everywhere itself winning Best Feature, though we probably shouldn't read into that too much since those winners are selected by a small jury.  

But then there's Cate Blanchett, who most pundits have considered the early frontrunner for months. She has a whopping seven Oscar nominations and two wins under her belt, and she plays a classical music conductor in Tár, one of 2022's most well-reviewed movies. The Hollywood Reporter described her performance as "astonishing," and some critics have declared it the best of her entire career. Blanchett won an Oscar most recently for Blue Jasmine in 2014, but she hasn't been nominated since Carol in 2016. That's probably just a long enough cooling-off period for voters to be okay with rewarding her again, and besides, the Academy clearly has no problem crowning a three-time winner. After all, Frances McDormand just won her third Oscar in 2021.

The problem with Blanchett's candidacy is that Tár itself is arguably somewhat emotionally cold and could be seen as cryptic at times, making it the kind of film that it's easy to imagine certain Oscar voters not quite "getting." But the entire movie is built around Blanchett's undeniably great performance, so voters could embrace her even if they don't rally behind the film in other categories. We've seen numerous recent examples of films that only win Best Actress, including Room, The Favourite, and Judy. Like Yeoh, Blanchett also won a Golden Globe. But unlike Yeoh, she wasn't present to accept it and give a speech, meaning she wasn't able to make that all-important televised pitch to Oscar voters. 

In a somewhat distant third place is Michelle Williams for The Fabelmans. She was once considered the clear frontrunner to win Best Supporting Actress until it was revealed that she'll be campaigned as a lead. That was a somewhat controversial decision, but it's unlikely to cost Williams a nomination based on the strength of Steven Spielberg's movie. Most importantly, Williams has been nominated four times going back to Brokeback Mountain but has never won. So of all of the major contenders, she may have the strongest narrative that she's overdue for a win. 

But it looks like actually winning may be tough. If Williams were going to do so, you'd think she would be able to win at the Golden Globes considering the film itself won Best Picture. Most detrimental of all, Williams wasn't nominated at the SAG Awards. That doesn't put her out of the running for an Oscar nomination, as Kristen Stewart was famously snubbed by SAG last year but still earned the Oscar nod. But no one has won Best Actress in the 21st century without first being nominated at the SAG Awards. 

Danielle Deadwyler, who plays the mother of Emmett Till in Till, isn't far behind Williams. She delivers the kind of powerhouse performance that makes the entire movie, and Deadwyler has been getting across-the-board raves, with Clayton Davis of Variety saying she delivers "one of the year's single best performances, by any person, bar none." The only question is whether the movie will be as widely seen as it needs to be. So far, though, Deadwyler has been nominated at the SAG Awards and Critics' Choice Awards, she made the BAFTA longlist, and she won Outstanding Lead Performance at the Gotham Awards, though she was surprisingly snubbed by the Golden Globes. 

Finally, there's Viola Davis, who has already been nominated for The Woman King at the SAG Awards, the Golden Globes, and the Critics' Choice Awards, and she made the BAFTA longlist. How can Academy voters resist the chance to give her the fifth nomination of her career? Don't look now, though, but there's an actress who could potentially get in instead of Davis and cause quite a stir in doing so: Ana de Armas for Blonde

Yes, the Marilyn Monroe movie was highly divisive and sparked backlash when it was released on Netflix, with some arguing it was disrespectful to Monroe's legacy. But de Armas made the BAFTA longlist, and she was nominated at the SAG Awards and the Golden Globes. Plus, it certainly doesn't hurt that when Colin Farrell won his award at the Golden Globes, he spent the whole first 20 seconds of his speech praising de Armas' "extraordinary" performance, even detailing a specific shot that made him cry — which Oscar voters may be thinking about going into voting for the nominations, which began just days later. One doesn't necessarily have to be a fan of Blonde to appreciate her performance and the grueling work she put into it.  

We're still predicting Davis gets in over de Armas for now if only because The Woman King is a crowd-pleaser and Blonde very much isn't; it's not hard to imagine many Oscars not even being able to get through it. But the latter getting in over the former is very much in play, so brace for that potential controversy now. 

Best Supporting Actor

  • Paul Dano (The Fabelmans)
  • Brendan Gleeson (The Banshees of Inisherin)
  • Judd Hirsch (The Fabelmans
  • Barry Keoghan (The Banshees of Inisherin
  • Ke Huy Quan (Everything Everywhere All At Once)

Predicted winner: Ke Huy Quan (Everything Everywhere All At Once)

Everyone else should just go home: Ke Huy Quan has got this race all locked up. 

The actor plays the husband of Michelle Yeoh's character in Everything Everywhere All at Once, and much like Brendan Fraser, his win would come with a compelling narrative. Quan was a child actor known for his roles in films like The Goonies and Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. But he quit acting for 20 years after struggling to find roles, only to return in a big way with Everything Everywhere. He's arguably the heart of the film and gets to deliver an emotional monologue near the end about the importance of kindness. 

Quan cemented his status as frontrunner with an early win at the Gotham Awards, the first major ceremony of the season. This was the same award won last year by CODA star Troy Kotsur, who went on to win the Oscar. But it wasn't the win that mattered so much as Quan's charming, emotional speech, which Oscar voters were surely watching. "This time last year, all I was hoping for was just a job," he said. Quan went on to win at the Golden Globes, where he delivered similarly emotional remarks reflecting on how he feared he had "nothing more to offer" as an adult before the directors of Everything Everywhere gave him a chance over 30 years later. It may be hard for the Academy, and especially actors who can relate to Quan's struggle to find work, to resist such a powerful comeback story. It certainly helps that many voters will also feel nostalgia remembering his roles as a child actor. 

As far as the other nominees, this could be an unusual case where two films both earn double nominations. The first is The Fabelmans, which has both Paul Dano and Judd Hirsch in contention. Dano plays the analog to Steven Spielberg's father and delivers a somewhat restrained performance, but given he has never even been nominated for an Oscar, this seems like the perfect time to recognize him. Dano has already been nominated at the SAG Awards and the Critics' Choice Awards, though he was left off the BAFTA longlist and snubbed at the Golden Globes. 

Judd Hirsch is also a contender for The Fabelmans despite the fact that he's only in the movie for about 10 minutes. But Hirsch, who plays the main character's great uncle, completely takes over the film when he shows up, delivering a barnburner of a monologue about the life of an artist. Hirsch is an industry legend who the Academy may be eager to reward, and Vanity Fair even released a clip of his scene in November, declaring he "may win an Oscar" for it. But Hirsch is at risk of being snubbed considering he didn't make the BAFTA longlist and wasn't nominated at the SAG Awards or the Golden Globes, though he made it in at the Critics' Choice Awards. 

Meanwhile, Brendan Gleeson has been earning high marks for his role opposite Colin Farrell in The Banshees of Inisherin, with Deadline saying he "entirely dominates when he's on screen." With Farrell set to be nominated for Best Actor, Gleeson should get in alongside him. Now that The Banshees of Inisherin has emerged as a serious Best Picture contender, though, it also seems strong enough for two nominations. The second would be for Barry Keoghan, who has performed better than both Dano and Hirsch with nods at the SAG Awards, Golden Globes, and Critics' Choice Awards, and he made the BAFTA longlist. 

Best Supporting Actress

  • Angela Bassett (Black Panther: Wakanda Forever)
  • Hong Chau (The Whale)
  • Kerry Condon (The Banshees of Inisherin)
  • Jamie Lee Curtis (Everything Everywhere All At Once)
  • Stephanie Hsu (Everything Everywhere All at Once)

Predicted winner: Angela Bassett (Black Panther: Wakanda Forever)

The nominees for Best Supporting Actress were by far the most difficult to predict a few months ago, and the race is only now starting to come into focus.

Angela Bassett is looking like a potential frontrunner after surprisingly winning at the Golden Globe Awards. Since 2017, the Globes' Best Supporting Actress winner has lined up with the Oscars all but once. Bassett's victory was a shock, so it initially wasn't clear if this was a fluke, sort of like the year when Jodie Foster won the Globe but wasn't even nominated at the Oscars. But then Bassett's candidacy was strengthened when she was nominated at the SAG Awards, and she also made the BAFTA longlist. Besides, this is a case where the race is so wide-open, Oscar voters could follow the Globes' lead if only because it isn't clear who else to rally behind.

The other big contender is Kerry Condon given The Banshees of Inisherin is looking so strong across the board, and she's been nominated at the SAG Awards, the Golden Globes, the Critics' Choice Awards, also making the BAFTA longlist. Assuming Colin Farrell won't win Best Actor, voters could also see this as their chance to ensure Banshees gets some love. But you'd think the Globes would have given her their supporting actress prize if she was strong enough to win at the Oscars considering Banshees itself won Best Picture. 

Jamie Lee Curtis also looks set for a nod for Everything Everywhere All at Once after being longlisted by BAFTA and getting nominated at the Globes, the SAG Awards, and the Critics' Choice Awards. The Halloween actress has openly admitted she wants the nomination, so we know she'll be campaigning her tail off. Similar to Judd Hirsch, she's an industry icon whom the Academy may want to recognize for her decades of fine work beyond just this film, especially since she's never been nominated. It might not hurt that Curtis just completed a massive press tour saying goodbye to Halloween's Laurie Strode, her most iconic role. But her best chance to win was probably at the Globes considering the Hollywood Foreign Press Association has historically loved her and she was one of the only stars to defend the organization amid its diversity scandal. And if many voters are likely to check off Ke Huy Quan and potentially also Michelle Yeoh, they may be inclined to spread the love and not go for a third Everything Everywhere star. 

A nomination for Curtis' co-star Stephanie Hsu is a bit shakier. She's younger and far less well-known in Hollywood, and she was snubbed by BAFTA and the Golden Globes. But the SAG Awards helped put her back in play by nominating both her and Curtis. Besides, Hsu has a larger, more emotional role in the film and is arguably far more important in it since it's fundamentally a mother-daughter story and she plays the daughter. But this nod will all come down to whether the Academy loved Everything Everywhere enough for two nominations; based on the precursors we've seen so far, if only one actor can get nominated in this category, it will likely be Curtis. 

Meanwhile, Brendan Fraser is a Best Actor frontrunner for The Whale, so one of his co-stars could get a nomination alongside him: Hong Chau, who plays the nurse and best friend of Fraser's character. The Hollywood Reporter identified her as the "standout, alongside Fraser," noting she delivers a "nuanced turn" that "breaks your heart." Chau was also nominated at the SAG Awards and she made the BAFTA longlist, though the Golden Globes snubbed her.  

Pundits are also still scratching their heads over Universal's decision to campaign Michelle Williams as a lead actress for The Fabelmans, though early predictions were that she would be nominated as a supporting actress and actually win. It's always possible the studio could change its mind or that Oscar voters could go rogue and nominate her as a supporting actress anyway. If that happens, Williams could probably become the frontrunner in this category.

But otherwise, it's looking like Bassett may be set to become the first actor to win an Oscar for their role in a Marvel Cinematic Universe film — at least, until Matt Damon finally receives a retroactive win for Thor: Ragnarok.  

For more of The Week's Oscar coverage, check out our 2023 Best Picture predictions.

Recommended

The daily gossip: February 3, 2023
Chloe Cherry
Daily gossip

The daily gossip: February 3, 2023

The daily business briefing: February 3, 2023
Apple store
Business briefing

The daily business briefing: February 3, 2023

10 things you need to know today: February 3, 2023
Zelensky at a press conference in Kyiv
Daily briefing

10 things you need to know today: February 3, 2023

Nikki Haley 2024?
Nikki Haley
Briefing

Nikki Haley 2024?

Most Popular

Republicans oust Ilhan Omar from House committee
Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn)
Punitive politics?

Republicans oust Ilhan Omar from House committee

Japanese restaurants fight back against viral 'sushi terrorism' trend
Photo of Kura Sushi, a Japanese conveyor belt sushi restaurant chain
save the sushi

Japanese restaurants fight back against viral 'sushi terrorism' trend

China says it successfully cloned 3 'super cows'
5 cows lined up at feeding trough.
carbon copy

China says it successfully cloned 3 'super cows'