Oscars 2022: Best Actor: How the race is shaping up

As 2022 is rung in, the New Year once again sees the arrival of awards season in Hollywood.

With the Golden Globes taking place last night – without celebrities and broadcasters – the real contenders for Academy Awards are beginning to line up. So, who is in the running for a famous golden statuette at the Dolby Theatre on March 27?

In the battle for Best Actor, the race is now warming up nicely. Only a few short months ago, Will Smith looked nailed on to win his first Oscar at the third time of asking for his portrayal of the Williams’ sisters’ father in King Richard, but now his dash to reach the finish line first is far from a foregone conclusion.

Not least, because Benedict Cumberbatch is earning late praise for his embittered cowboy portrayal in The Power of the Dog, with the film also likely to earn nominations in three of the four main acting categories when the nominees are announced – with Kodi Smit-McPhee looking this year’s biggest lock to win for Best Supporting Actor.

The momentum Jane Campion’s crowd-winner is building has seen the British actor’s odds begin to shorten, even if Smith is still the favourite at 4/7 with SkyBet. Cumberbatch is now available for a best price of 5/1 with both Coral and Ladbrokes though, after shortening on Thursday from 6s and is as short as 5/2 with Betfair.

A third name that is also making waves is Andrew Garfield, in Tick, Tick… Boom! Of the five likely front-runners, only Garfield and Cumberbatch’s vehicles are more widely available on Netflix and having handed over the Spiderman cape permanently after a cameo in Spiderman: No Way Home, Garfield is turning heads.

Like Cumberbatch, Garfield is previously a nominee for Best Actor, for Hacksaw Ridge, and his stint on Broadway has carved a mould as a classical actor, which could yet serve him well in this year’s race. Garfield, like his fellow Briton has also come in in value, currently at 13/2.

Former two-time Academy Award winner Denzel Washington, meanwhile, is also garnering votes for The Tragedy of Macbeth.

Having won Best Supporting Actor for Glory in 1989, the now 67-year-old took home Best Actor for his turn as corrupt cop Alonzo Harris in Training Day, now some 21 years ago. Might Washington yet scoop his third statuette from the back of the pack?

Still distinct long-shot, Washington is yet to earn a single BAFTA nomination, but is tipped to do so in February. Given a potential home bias for a William Shakespeare adaptation, Washington may not only claim his first nod from BAFTA but could take away the prize. At 12/1 with Bet365, SkyBet, Coral and Ladbrokes, his fortunes in British eyes could yet see his odds tumble, not least given the fact, that he has also shortened to 10/1 with William Hill.

The remaining two names that appear to be in the scrap for the final nomination are regular award alumnae Bradley Cooper and Peter Dinklage as the titular hero in Cyrano. Cooper’s latest role is of a much darker departure in Licorice Pizza, whilst Dinklage could be an unlikely source for a late push after gaining acting nods following his eight-year stint in Game of Thrones. But could either name become serious contenders? Both on offer at 20s with SkyBet, on first glance it appears not. But either leading men might still be worth a quid or two with still some distance to cover yet.

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