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The Academy Awards has a long history of recognize the same stars over and over again. Meryl Streep is easily the best modern example, as she received 21 Oscar nominations and three wins over the course of her career. In the case of Oscars 2022, there’s a lot fans don’t yet know, including who will host the show. But one thing that is becoming clear is the Best Actor line-up. Perhaps unsurprisingly, that final slot looks like a showdown between two past winners.

Leonardo DiCaprio wears a suit and poses in front of the Netflix logo
Leonardo DiCaprio | Dimitrios Kambouris

The Best Actor race is almost over at the 2022 Oscars

Many of the Oscars 2022 races are too close to call. Industry pundits aren’t even sure who will be nominated, let alone who will go home an Academy Award winner. But the Best Actor race is slowly coming into focus. As the Oscar nominations approach, it’s become clear that Will Smith for King Richard, Benedict Cumberbatch for The Power of the Dog, and Andrew Garfield for Tick, Tick… Boom! are leading the field. The actors are all past nominees.

Smith defeated Cumberbatch at the Golden Globes in the Best Actor — Drama category. Meanwhile, Garfield took home the Best Actor — Comedy trophy. And all three are competing for the Screen Actors Guild Award. Meanwhile, two-time Oscar winner Denzel Washington is gearing up to grab one of the five available slots for his The Tragedy of Macbeth. But who will join these four men in the Best Actor category at the 2022 Academy Awards?

Leonardo DiCaprio and Javier Bardem are among the other potential nominees

A few key contenders are lined up for that fifth and final slot. According to Gold Derby — which tracks awards season odds and predictions — Javier Bardem is next in line for his role in Being the Ricardos. But with support for that film largely centering on Nicole Kidman’s performance, his nomination is far from a lock right now. Bardem did also receive a Golden Globe nomination for his performance, but then again, so did several other lead actors.

Other stars who could bump Bardem out of the category include Leonardo DiCaprio, whose Don’t Look Up has gotten a lot of attention recently. DiCaprio too was Golden Globe-nominated for his performance, as was Mahershala Ali for Swan Song, Peter Dinklage for Cyrano, Cooper Hoffman for Licorice Pizza, and Anthony Ramos for In the Heights. One of those or someone entirely off the radar — such as Nicolas Cage for Pig — could sneak in.


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The 2022 Academy Awards is still largely a mystery

If the infamous Moonlight/La La Land Best Picture mix-up of 2017 is any indication, fans know to expect the unexpected at the Oscars. The Best Actor race — and, truly, many of the others — has the opportunity to provide such surprises. But only time will tell which names will be on the envelope when the ceremony goes down on March 27, 2022.

In the meantime, fans can look forward to watching the rest of the Oscars 2022 season play out. With nominations on the way, the next order of business will be naming a host and organizing the show itself. Will DiCaprio, Bardem, or one of their competitors be in the mix on that fateful night? The world will find out soon enough.

The 94th Academy Awards nominations will be announced on February 8, 2022.