2025 Oscars: Best Actor Predictions

Nominations voting is from January 8-12, 2025, with official Oscar nominations announced January 17, 2025. Final voting is February 11-18, 2025. And finally, the 97th Oscars telecast will be broadcast on Sunday, March 2 and air live on ABC at 7:00 p.m. ET/ 4:00 p.m. PT. We update our picks through awards season, so keep checking IndieWire for all our 2025 Oscar predictions.

The State of the Race

While there may not have been any 2024 films that have premiered yet that feel like surefire Best Picture winners, there have already been a few Best Actor contenders that could go the distance.

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Take Colman Domingo, for example, who is following his first Oscar nomination for his performance in Netflix biopic “Rustin” with “Sing Sing,” an A24 prison drama that premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival last year, all about the transformative power of art. As Divine G, Domingo displays a tenderness that seems sure to win the hearts of viewers when the film is released at the end of the summer.

Also building upon the momentum of a successful Q4 is “Hit Man” star Glen Powell, who co-wrote the Netflix film with five-time Oscar nominee and fellow Texas native Richard Linklater. While it was his last film “Anyone But You” that proved the 35-year-old star could be a box office draw, “Hit Man” has felt like the turning point that’s proved Powell has more to offer, winning over some more high-minded moviegoers.

Two examples of actors who seem more pegged to have a big year this year are André Holland and Sebastian Stan. Both actors had titles that appeared at Sundance, with Holland in Titus Kaphar’s directorial debut “Exhibiting Forgiveness,” and Stan in “A Different Man” from A24. The latter performance won a Silver Bear for Best Acting in a Leading Role at the Berlin Film Festival, so Stan could have the teeniest leg up in that respect. But when it comes to the other two films, Stan’s take on Donald Trump in “The Apprentice” may never see the light of day, given how it still does not have distribution. Meanwhile, little is known about Neon’s “The Actor,” but roles in projects like “Moonlight” and “High Flying Bird” have long tipped off Holland as someone who would court awards attention with the right starring role.

Finally, “Kinds of Kindness” star Jesse Plemons won Best Actor at Cannes for his roles within the Yorgos Lanthimos triptych. With the Searchlight Pictures release already out in theaters, the former Best Supporting Actor nominee joins a crop of male lead performances from the first half of the year that has left an impression with arthouse theater attendees. Others include Josh O’Connor from “Challengers,” which is arguably a supporting role, but the audience gets much more of the story from his character’s point of view than from Mike Faist’s character. Austin Butler in “The Bikeriders” is the opposite situation, where other characters talk more, but the narrative revolves around his character Benny.

Examples of highly anticipated performances still to come include Daniel Craig in Luca Guadagnino’s “Queer,” an adaptation of a William S. Burroughs novel; Ralph Fiennes in “Conclave,” Edward Berger’s papal election thriller; and Andrew Garfield in the upcoming A24 romance film “We Live in Time.”

Plus, there are blockbuster sequels “Joker: Folie à Deux” and “Gladiator II,” whose predecessors both carried their stars to Best Actor wins. With the former, star Joaquin Phoenix stands the slight chance at being the first actor to win an Oscar twice for the same role. With the latter, even a nomination for star Paul Mescal would be an incredible achievement, as it is only the Irish star’s seventh film.

Contenders are listed in alphabetical order, below. No actor will be deemed a frontrunner until I have seen the film.

Colman Domingo (“Sing Sing”)
Sebastian Stan (“A Different Man”)
Josh O’Connor (“Challengers”)
Jesse Plemons (“Kinds of Kindness”)
Glen Powell (“Hit Man”)

Austin Butler (“The Bikeriders”)
Daniel Craig (“Queer”)
Adam Driver (“Megalopolis”)
Jesse Eisenberg (“A Real Pain”)
Ralph Fiennes (“Conclave”)
Andrew Garfield (“We Live in Time”)
André Holland (“The Actor”)
André Holland (“Exhibiting Forgiveness”)
Jharrel Jerome (“Unstoppable”)
Barry Keoghan (“Bird”)Paul Mescal (“Gladiator II”)
Gary Oldman (“Parthenope”)
Joaquin Phoenix (“Joker: Folie à Deux”)
Sebastian Stan (“The Apprentice”)
John David Washington (“The Piano Lesson”)

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