Academy Award for Best Actor
The Academy Award for Best Actor is an award presented annually by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. It is given in honor of an actor who has delivered an outstanding performance in a leading role while working within the film industry. The award is traditionally presented by the previous year's Best Actress winner.
The 1st Academy Awards were held in 1929 with Emil Jannings receiving the award for his roles in The Last Command and The Way of All Flesh. Currently, nominees are determined by single transferable vote within the actors branch of AMPAS; winners are selected by a plurality vote from the entire eligible voting members of the Academy.
In the first three years of the awards, actors were nominated as the best in their categories. At that time, all of their work during the qualifying period was listed after the award. However, during the 3rd ceremony held in 1930, only one of those films was cited in each winner's final award, even though each of the acting winners had two films following their names on the ballots. The following year, this system was replaced by the current system in which an actor is nominated for a specific performance in a single film. Starting with the 9th ceremony held in 1937, the category was officially limited to five nominations per year.
Since its inception, the award has been given to 83 actors. Daniel Day-Lewis has received the most awards in this category, with three wins. Spencer Tracy and Laurence Olivier were nominated on nine occasions, more than any other actor. Peter O'Toole is the most nominated actor in this category without a single win. James Dean remains the only actor to have been posthumously nominated in this category on more than one occasion. At age 29, Adrien Brody became the youngest actor to win this award for The Pianist, while Henry Fonda, at age 76, became the oldest winner for On Golden Pond. As of the 92nd Academy Awards, Joaquin Phoenix is the most recent winner in this category for his portrayal of Arthur Fleck / Joker in Joker.
Winners and nomineesIn the following table, the years are listed as per Academy convention, and generally correspond to the year of film release in Los Angeles County; the ceremonies are always held the following year. For the first five ceremonies, the eligibility period spanned twelve months, from August 1 to July 31. For the 6th ceremony held in 1934, the eligibility period lasted from August 1, 1932, to December 31, 1933. Since the 7th ceremony held in 1935, the period of eligibility became the full previous calendar year from January 1 to December 31.
|Indicates the winner|
|§||Indicates winner who refused the award|
|^||Indicates posthumous winner|
|*||Indicates posthumous nominee|
was the first winner of this category for his roles in The Last Command and The Way of All Flesh.|alt=Black and white portrait of Emil Jannings—a corpulent white man of middle-age with short hair brushed to one side, wearing a sophisticated suit—in 1926.
won twice for his roles in Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and The Best Years of Our Lives.|alt=Black and white publicity photo of Fredric March—a middle-aged white man with straight hair, a furrowed brow, and a broad forehead, wearing a suit—in 1940.
won for his performance in It Happened One Night.|alt=Black and white publicity photo of Clark Gable—a middle-aged white man with a mustache and straight gray hair combed to the side, wearing a suit and smiling—in 1940.
won for his portrayal of Louis Pasteur in The Story of Louis Pasteur.|alt=Black and white publicity photo of Paul Muni for the film "The Life of Emile Zola" in 1936.
was the first actor to win this award over two consecutive years for his roles in Captains Courageous and Boys Town .|alt=Black and white publicity photo of Spencer Tracy—a middle-aged white man with short curly hairstyle combed to the side and a square face, wearing a suit—in 1935.
won for his performance in The Philadelphia Story.|alt=Black and white publicity photo of James Stewart—an elegant white man with arched eyebrows and short, smooth hair combed to the side, around 40 years of age—in 1948.
won twice for his roles in Sergeant York and High Noon.|alt=Black and white publicity photo of Gary Cooper—a handsome white man, light-eyed with hair combed back, wearing a light-colored suit and around 35 years of age—in 1936.
won for his portrayal of George M. Cohan in Yankee Doodle Dandy.|alt=Black and white publicity photo of James Cagney—a white man with serious features and an arched eyebrow, dark eyes and hair combed back, wearing a suit and around 30 years of age—in the early 1930s.
won for his performance in Going My Way.|alt=Black and white publicity photo of Bing Crosby—a white man with light eyes wearing a light hat and a smoking pipe in his mouth—in 1942.
won for his performance as the title role in Hamlet, a film which he directed himself.|alt=Black and white portrait of Laurence Olivier—a handsome white man with a square face with dark eyes and dark hair, with a split chin and white smile, wearing a suit, around 30 years of age—in the 1940s.
won for his performance in The African Queen.|alt=Black and white publicity photo of Humphrey Bogart—a charming white man with dark eyes and a square face, wearing a dark hat and a light-colored overcoat, around 41 years of age—in 1940.
won for his performance in Stalag 17.|alt=Black and white portrait of William Holden—a white man with light hair and small eyes, with a faint smile, wearing a suit, around 36 years of age—in 1954.
won for his performance in Elmer Gantry.|alt=Black and white publicity photo of Burt Lancaster—a handsome white man with light eyes and wavy light-colored hair, oval face, wearing a light-colored shirt, around 34 years of age—in 1947.
won for his performance as Atticus Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird.|alt=Black and white publicity photo of Gregory Peck—a white man with dark eyes and straight hair, smiling and wearing a suit, around 32 years of age—in 1948.
won for his performance in Lilies of the Field, becoming the first black actor to win this category.|alt=Black and white publicity photo of Sidney Poitier—a black man wearing a suit around 38 years of age—in 1968.
won for his performance as Reuben "Rooster" Cogburn in True Grit.|alt=Black and white portrait of John Wayne—a white man with a broad forehead, dark straight hair and dark eyes, wearing an elegant suit, around 58 years of age—in 1965.
was nominated seven times, winning for his performance in Save the Tiger.|alt=Black and white portrait of Jack Lemmon—a white man with a broad forehead and round face, short dark hair parted on his left, with dark eyes, smiling slightly, and wearing a dark suit, around 43 years of age—in 1968.
won twice from eight nominations for his roles in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest and As Good as It Gets.|alt=Photo of Jack Nicholson in 1976.
won twice from seven nominations for his roles in Kramer vs. Kramer and Rain Man.|alt=Black and white publicity photo of Dustin Hoffman—a young white man with dark hair, small eyes and a big nose, wearing a suit—in 1968.
won once from five nominations for his portrayal of Jake LaMotta in Raging Bull.|alt=Photo of Robert De Niro—a middle-aged white man, wearing a suit—at the Deauville American Film Festival in 1988.
won for his portrayal of the title role in Gandhi.|alt=Photo of Ben Kingsley at the Sundance UK Film Festival in 2012.
won for his performance in The Color of Money.|alt=Black and white publicity photo of Paul Newman—a 33-year-old man with light eyes, broad shoulders, smooth dark hair brushed to the side and a thin nose, wearing a long light-colored shirt—in 1958.
is the first and only actor to win this award three times for his roles in My Left Foot, There Will Be Blood, and Lincoln.|alt=Photo of Daniel Day-Lewis at a Jaguar Mille Miglia event in 2013.
won once from three nominations for his performance as Dr. Hannibal Lecter in The Silence of the Lambs.|alt=Photo of Anthony Hopkins at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2010.
won once from five nominations for his performance in Scent of a Woman.|alt=Photo of Al Pacino at the Cannes Film Festival in 1996.
won two consecutive times for his roles in Philadelphia and Forrest Gump .|alt=Photo of Tom Hanks at the U.S. Department of State in Washington, D.C. in 2014.
won for his portrayal of David Helfgott in Shine.|alt=Photo of Geoffrey Rush at the Berlin International Film Festival in 2017.
, Roberto Benigni became the second actor to win this award for a role in a film he directed himself.|alt=Photo of Roberto Benigni in 2006.
won for his performance in Gladiator.|alt=Photo of Russell Crowe in Sydney, Australia at the premiere of "Les Misérables" in 2012.
won for his performance in Training Day.|alt=Photo of Denzel Washington at the Berlin International Film Festival in 2000.
became the youngest actor to win this award for his portrayal of Władysław Szpilman in The Pianist.|alt=Photo of Adrien Brody at the Cannes Film Festival in 2014.
won twice from five nominations for his roles in Mystic River and Milk.|alt=Photo of Sean Penn at the New York Film Festival in 2013.
won for his portrayal of Idi Amin in The Last King of Scotland.|alt=Photo of Forest Whitaker at the Berlin International Film Festival in 2014.
won for his performance in Crazy Heart.|alt=Photo of Jeff Bridges at the San Diego Comic-Con International in 2017.
won for his portrayal of King George VI in The King's Speech.|alt=Photo of Colin Firth at the San Diego Comic-Con International in 2017.
became the first French actor to win this award for his performance in The Artist.|alt=Photo of Jean Dujardin at the Cannes Film Festival in 2011.
won for his portrayal of Stephen Hawking in The Theory of Everything.|alt=Photo of Eddie Redmayne at the San Diego Comic-Con International in 2016.
won for his portrayal of Hugh Glass in The Revenant.|alt=Photo of Leonardo DiCaprio at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland in 2016.
won for his performance in Manchester by the Sea.|alt=Photo of Casey Affleck at the BFI London Film Festival in 2016.
won for his portrayal of Winston Churchill in Darkest Hour.|alt=Photo of Gary Oldman at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2017.
won for his portrayal of Freddie Mercury in Bohemian Rhapsody'' ; the first Arab to win the award.|alt=Rami Malek at the Paley Center for Media in 2015.
Multiple awards and nominationsThe following individuals received two or more Best Actor awards:
The following individuals received four or more Best Actor nominations:
|5||Robert De Niro|
Multiple character nominations
|2||Fredric March and James Mason as Norman Maine in A Star Is Born & A Star Is Born|
|2||José Ferrer and Gérard Depardieu as Cyrano de Bergerac in Cyrano de Bergerac & Cyrano de Bergerac|
|2||Kirk Douglas and Willem Dafoe as Vincent van Gogh in Lust for Life & At Eternity's Gate|
|2||Anthony Hopkins and Frank Langella as Richard Nixon in Nixon & Frost/Nixon|
|2||Laurence Olivier and Kenneth Branagh as Henry V in Henry V & Henry V|
|2||Raymond Massey and Daniel Day-Lewis as Abraham Lincoln in Abe Lincoln in Illinois & Lincoln|
|2||Paul Newman as Eddie Felson in The Hustler & The Color of Money|
|2||Charles Laughton and Richard Burton as Henry VIII in The Private Life of Henry VIII & Anne of the Thousand Days|
|2||Peter O'Toole as Henry II in Becket and The Lion in Winter|
|2||Bing Crosby as Chuck O'Malley in Going My Way & The Bells of St. Mary's|
|2||Leslie Howard and Rex Harrison as Henry Higgins in Pygmalion & My Fair Lady|
|2||John Wayne and Jeff Bridges as Rooster Cogburn in True Grit & True Grit|
|2||Robert Montgomery and Warren Beatty as Joe Pendleton in Here Comes Mr. Jordan & Heaven Can Wait|
|2||Robert Donat and Peter O'Toole as Arthur Chipping in Goodbye, Mr. Chips & Goodbye, Mr. Chips|
Multiple nominations from the same film
- Clark Gable, Charles Laughton, and Franchot Tone in Mutiny on the Bounty
- Bing Crosby and Barry Fitzgerald in Going My Way
- Montgomery Clift and Burt Lancaster in From Here to Eternity
- James Dean and Rock Hudson in Giant
- Tony Curtis and Sidney Poitier in The Defiant Ones
- Maximilian Schell and Spencer Tracy in Judgement at Nuremberg
- Richard Burton and Peter O'Toole in Becket
- Dustin Hoffman and Jon Voight in Midnight Cowboy
- Michael Caine and Laurence Olivier in Sleuth
- Peter Finch and William Holden in Network
- Tom Courtenay and Albert Finney in The Dresser
- F. Murray Abraham and Tom Hulce in Amadeus
Nominations for portraying multiple characters in the same film
- Charles Chaplin as Adenoid Hynkel and "The Barber" in The Great Dictator
- Jose Ferrer as Toulouse Lautrec and his father in Moulin Rouge
- Peter Sellers as Group Captain Lionel Mandrake, President Merkin Muffley, and the title character in Dr. Strangelove
- Lee Marvin as Kid Shelleen and Tim Strawn in Cat Ballou
- Nicolas Cage as Charlie and Donald Kaufman in Adaptation
|Oldest winner||Henry Fonda||On Golden Pond||76|
|Oldest nominee||Richard Farnsworth||The Straight Story||79|
|Youngest winner||Adrien Brody||The Pianist||29|
|Youngest nominee||Jackie Cooper||Skippy||9|