Oscar Best Actor winner from the year you were born

Edward Settle
Edward Settle

In Hollywood, few honors are more coveted than the Best Actor and Best Actress awards at the Oscars. To be nominated for a performance—let alone win the golden statue—is a stunning testament to an actor’s amazing work ethic and significant impact on audiences and critics.

To commemorate actors who have gained this accolade while readying for this year’s winner, Stacker found the Best Actor winner every year since 1928, the earliest year the Academy started to consider potential Oscar winners, using the Oscars website. Unless otherwise specified, dates reference the year the movie came out—not the year of the award ceremony, which happens the year after.

Over the years, the winners of the Best Actor award have been symbols of the times—with each recipient marking that particular era of moviemaking. Maximilian Schell’s win in 1962’s Oscars for “Judgment at Nuremberg” served as a reminder of the profound wound left on the world in the aftermath of World War II, and Sean Penn’s win for “Milk” in 2009’s ceremonies highlighted the continuing struggle for civil rights in the LGBTQ+ community.

Other victories have signified history for the winner: For his lead role in 1963’s “Lilies of the Field,” Sidney Poitier broke racial barriers, becoming the first Black actor to take home this top honor at the Oscars.

More common are the plethora of Best Actor Oscars representing personal milestones. At the 1981 Academy Awards, for example, legend Robert De Niro took home his first Best Actor in a Leading Role win for playing boxer Jake LaMotta in “Raging Bull.” And two times in three years, we saw a pair of acting greats go from being in the “best to never win” group to capping off heralded resumes with Best Actor Oscars: Matthew McConaughey for his depiction of AIDS patient Ron Woodroof in 2013’s “Dallas Buyers Club” and Leonardo DiCaprio for his portrayal as frontiersman Hugh Glass in 2015’s “The Revenant.” Gary Oldman followed suit in 2017 for his turn as Winston Churchill in “Darkest Hour,” an undeniable high point of the Englishman’s four decades on the silver screen.

Not to say that Best Actor awards only go to the seasoned. The golden trophy went to then 38-year-old Rami Malek for playing Freddie Mercury in 2018’s “Bohemian Rhapsody,” winning Best Actor over veterans Christian Bale, Bradley Cooper, Willem Dafoe, and Viggo Mortensen.

Read on to see won the Oscar for Best Actor in your birth year up to 2022.

Editor’s note: Many actors and advocates have spoken out about the discriminatory nature of gendered awards categories over the past several years. We dug into this topic in a recent story, “Can nongendered acting awards help fix Hollywood’s gender problem?

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