Who Will Win Best Actor at the 2022 Oscars?

Could it be Will Smith? Or Benedict Cumberbatch? Or Denzel Washington?

Warner Bros.
Warner Bros.
Warner Bros.

This year’s Best Actor race is a throw-down among some capital-M movie stars. You’ve got Will Smith hoping to finally get the trophy that has eluded him, while A-listers like Leonardo DiCaprio and Denzel Washington are back in the mix. But can they hold off an eerie, triumphant Benedict Cumberbatch and the singing voices of both Peter Dinklage and Andrew Garfield? Let’s dive into the race.

Read our Best Picture and Best Actress predictions here.

The front-runner: Will Smith, King Richard

Throughout his career, blockbuster king Will Smith has every so often made a play for awards glory. He received nominations for Ali and The Pursuit of Happyness, while other attempts fell flat. (Collateral Beauty is probably better forgotten.) But he has his best shot at a trophy thus far with King Richard, where he plays Richard Williams, the father of tennis superstars Serena and Venus. Smith was crowned the presumptive winner after the film, directed by Reinaldo Marcus Green (Monsters and Men), premiered at Telluride, and while no one has really emerged as a major competitor, his buzz has quieted since then. When the movie debuted in theaters and on HBO Max in November, there were internet debates over the focus on Richard instead of his daughters, as well as whether Smith’s performance was really all that accurate. Plus, Smith has made news for some of the arguably TMI revelations on the press tour for his recent memoir.


Likely challengers:
Benedict Cumberbatch, The Power of the Dog

If anyone’s going to unseat Will Smith, it’s Benedict Cumberbatch, who gives the best performance of his career in Jane Campion’s thrilling drama The Power of the Dog. Cumberbatch’s against-type casting as a viciously macho cowboy is the key to the film’s saga of repression. So far, he’s been lauded with a win from the New York Film Critics Circle and was the runner-up from the Los Angeles critics group. (Full disclosure: This writer is a member of the NYFCC.)

Peter Dinklage, Cyrano

Peter Dinklage has four Emmys from his time on Game of Thrones, but can he add an Oscar to his collection? Possibly. Dinklage has received strong notices for his take on the classic Edmond Rostand character-this time sans the big nose-in a musical adaptation of the play directed by Joe Wright (Atonement) and with songs by The National. Yes, he sings too.

Leonardo DiCaprio, Don’t Look Up

Leo has his Oscar, but can he ride a wave of love for Don’t Look Up to another nomination? The movie got skeptical reviews from critics, but it has some very loud fans who are championing its importance as a climate-change allegory after its recent Netflix debut. DiCaprio shakes off his Pussy Posse aura to play a nerdy scientist-who is also very handsome, duh-and even gets his own not-going-to-take-it-anymore Network moment.

Andrew Garfield, Tick, Tick…Boom!

Speaking of singing, Andrew Garfield belts his heart out as Rent creator Jonathan Larson in this adaptation of one of Larson’s early works, which happens to be about Larson writing his early work. Garfield, who had a great year overall, has energy to match his sky-high hair in this wonderful portrait of an artist trying to figure out whether his dreams are worth pursuing.

Denzel Washington, The Tragedy of Macbeth

It’s Denzel. It’s Macbeth. It’s hard to deny, and I doubt the Academy will either. Washington, already a two-time winner, gives a terrifying performance as Shakespeare’s mad thane in Joel Coen’s adaptation. He leans into the character’s weariness as his reign of terror grows.


Long shots

The actor most likely to upset one of his peers mentioned above is Javier Bardem. His co-star Nicole Kidman is nearly a shoo-in for a nomination for her turn as Lucille Ball in Being the Ricardos, and if voters really love the movie, Bardem could slip in there too. Bradley Cooper already has four nominations just for acting-plus more for other endeavors-and he could get a fifth for playing a morally bankrupt mentalist in Guillermo del Toro’s Nightmare Alley. Unfortunately, our hopes for a Simon Rex nomination for his deserving performance as a washed-up porn star in the indie darling Red Rocket are probably far-fetched despite the love he has received from critics; alas, this will not be the year of the MTV-VJ-to-Oscar-nominee career trajectory. Joaquin Phoenix followed up his Joker win with low-key work in Mike Mills’ delicate C’mon C’mon, but the Oscars like Phoenix best when he goes big. And finally, Nicolas Cage did some of the best work of his career in Pig, but the small film is unlikely to attract the Academy’s attention.Want more Thrillist? Follow us on InstagramTwitterPinterestYouTubeTikTok, and Snapchat.

Esther Zuckerman is a senior entertainment writer at Thrillist. Follow her on Twitter @ezwrites.


Where to Celebrate Lunar New Year 2023 in Australia

And what it means to be in the year of the Rabbit.

where to celebrate lunar new year australia

Starting with the new moon on Sunday, January 22, this Lunar New Year ushers in the year of the Rabbit. We’ve put together a guide on celebrating the Lunar New Year in Australia.

What is special about the year of the Rabbit?

As you might know, each year has an animal sign in the Chinese Zodiac, which is based on the moon and has a 12-year cycle. This year, we celebrate the year of the rabbit, known to be the luckiest out of all twelve animals. It symbolises mercy, elegance, and beauty.

What celebrations are taking place and how can I get involved?

There are plenty of festivals happening all around the country which you can get involved with. Here they are per state.

New South Wales

Darling Harbour Fireworks
When: Every year, Sydney puts on a fireworks show, and this year, you can catch it on January 28 and February 4 at 9 pm in Darling Harbour.

Dragon Boat Races
When: Witness three days of dragon boat races and entertainment on Cockle Bay to usher in the Lunar New Year. The races will commence on January 27 and finish on January 29.

Lion Dances
When: Catch a traditional Lion Dance moving to the beat of a vigorous drum bringing good luck and fortune for the Lunar New Year. The dance performances will happen across Darling Harbour on Saturday, January 21, Sunday, January 22, and Sunday, February 4 and 5, around 6 pm and 9 pm.

Lunar New Year at Cirrus Dining
When: Barangaroo’s waterfront seafood restaurant, Cirrus, is celebrating the Year of the Rabbit with a special feast menu. Cirrus’ LNY menu is $128pp with optional wine pairing and is available from Saturday, January 21, to Sunday, February 5.

Auntie Philter
When: Hello Auntie’s owner and executive chef, Cuong Nguyen will be dishing out some of the most classic Vietnamese street foods with his mum, Linda. All of Philter’s favourites will be on offer, as well as Raspberry Pash Beer Slushies and other cocktails being served at the Philter Brewing rooftop bar on Sunday, January 22 and Sunday, January 29.


Lunar New Year Festival
When: Ring in the Lunar New Year with food, music, arts, and more on Sunday, January 22, from 10 am to 9 pm.

Lunar New Year at the National Gallery of Victoria
When: Celebrate the year of the rabbit at the National Gallery of Victoria’s festival of art, food, and art-making activities for everyone from 10 am-5 pm.


BriAsia Festival
When: From February 1-19, Brisbane will come alive with performances, including lion dances and martial arts displays. There will be street food, workshops, comedy and more.

South Australia

Chinatown Adelaide Street Party
When: Adelaide is set to hose a fun-filled day celebrating the Chinese New Year on Saturday, January 28, from 12 pm to 9 pm.

Western Australia

Crown Perth
When: Across January and February, Crown Perth hosts free live entertainment, including colourful lion dances, roving mascots, and drumming performances. The restaurants will also throw banquets and menus dedicated to the Lunar New Year.

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