Award shows in general have become very popular in recent years, with people wanting to be closer to the “biggest names” in Hollywood. This is especially true for the Oscars, as everyone wants to know who will win the big five (Best Picture, Director, Actor, Actress, Supporting Actress) and the coveted Best Actor award. People are often surprised at how accurate these predictions can be. Why? Because at the end of the day, most people think that the Academy Awards are voted on by the entire organization; however, this is not true. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) actually has 500 members, and only 60 of them are selected to vote for the Oscars. This particular group of 60 people is referred to as the “Oscars Academy.”

The majority of the rest of the members do not vote for the awards, but they do attend the parties held in the lead-up to the awards show. This is where the nickname “Oscars Academy” comes from. You might have noticed that many of the guests at these events look exactly like the members of the Academy. This is because it’s often the case that the AMPAS members will invite their colleagues from the Academy to their homes for intimate dinners and parties. These social gatherings are where the majority of the voting occurs. Here’s a breakdown of who will win Best Actor at the 2021 Oscars:

Early Favorites

In the absence of a clear-cut frontrunner, it’s always wise to look at the early favorites. Based on the latest information, here’s how the 2020 race stands:

  • Peter Farrelly – The Irishman
  • Joel Coen – The Ballad of Buster Scruggs
  • Woody Allen – Parasite
  • Jonathan Pryce – The Lighthouse
  • Ricky Taylor – The Laundryman
  • Andrew Scott – The Aussie
  • Timothee Chalamet – Happy New Year

These are the early favorites for the Best Actor award, but they aren’t considered to be locks to win. There are a number of factors that could derail their chances:

  • Saving Private Ryan (6th place) – Are they really that good?
  • Richard Gere – The Irishman (5th place)
  • Daniel Day Lewis – Ford v. Ferrari (4th place)
  • Denzel Washington – Joker (3rd place)
  • Tom Hanks – The Lighthouse (2nd place)
  • Leonardo DiCaprio – Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (1st place)

There are also a number of factors that could propel these candidates into the lead:

  • Joel Coen – The Train (Nominated) – He’s already won an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay, and this year’s nominee looks like it could be his breakout year. Having said that, the critics have been pretty harsh so far, so maybe that’s why he’s not been nominated for Best Actor yet.
  • Ricky Taylor – Beautiful Boy (Nominated) – This harrowing documentary follows the dangerous life of controversial fashion designer and self-proclaimed kingpin Scott Taylor. It’s already emerged as a major contender in the documentary category, so it’s possible that this could translate into Best Actor for Ricky.
  • Andrew Scott – Personal Shopper (Nominated) – This year’s most surprising and talked-about documentary is Personal Shopper, the story of a Tokyo family tasked with buying the perfect Christmas present for their daughter. It’s already won a number of awards, but this could be the one that finally puts it on the map.
  • Paul Bettany – The Lighthouse (Nominated) – This year’s standout performance in a documentary came from Paul Bettany, whose portrayal of 19th century painter John Everett Millais was both compelling and brought the house down at the 92nd Academy Awards.
  • Timothee Chalamet – Call Me by Your Name (Nominated) – This year’s most anticipated title returns for a second season, bringing with it even more heartbreak and joy. It’s a story about a young Italian man named Ennio who, in 1980s Italy, encounters the woman of his dreams. Naturally, tragedy strikes and we’re treated to one of the most heartbreaking endings in recent memory. It’s clear that Chalamet is having an incredible year, so much so that he was even considered for a supporting role in the highly anticipated sequel, Call Me by Your Name 2. This is the year of Timothee Chalamet.

The train was the first of the early favorites to be released. The film follows an ensemble cast of WWI veterans who, in 1946, reunite for a railroad ride that will change their lives forever. The critics have been very kind to the film, and it currently holds a 92% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

Dark Horse Candidates

These are the dark horse candidates who aren’t getting as much attention, but have a good chance of winning. They might not have the name value of the early favorites, but many voters will know exactly who they are because of strong showings in some of the year’s most prominent film festivals. Here’s a look at the 2021 contenders:

  • Tom Hanks – The Store
  • Daniel Day Lewis – Parasite
  • Leonardo DiCaprio – Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
  • Robert Pattinson – The Lighthouse
  • Gary Oldman – The Irishman
  • Tobias Santelmann – The Commuter
  • Timothee Chalamet – The Soumission
  • Joe Pesci – The House in the Woods
  • Jonathan Pryce – The Lighthouse (British version)
  • Andrew Scott – The Aussie
  • Alfred Molina – The Last Face
  • Ricky Gervais – The After Party
  • Lucion Pleasure – The Farewell (British version)

It’s a strong field, and it’s clear that nobody knows who will win the Best Actor award quite yet. There are a number of factors that could propel someone into the lead: