Who is the best Oscar winning lead actor of all time?
Stewart? Poitier? Scofield? De Niro? Day-Lewis? Our chief critic selects a winner from his nominees and reveals who you chose as your peoples champion
The best actor Academy award has always had a totemic fascination. Peter O’Toole was tortured throughout his career by getting nominated eight times without winning, and actually considered turning down a lifetime achievement Oscar in 2003 — at the age of 70 — on the grounds that he was “still in the game and might win the lovely bugger outright”. (He never did, though was nominated for the last time in 2007.) Holding the Oscar in your hand is something that many actors daydream about. The first ever best actor winner, Emil Jannings, was the German silent movie actor later disgraced for his propaganda associations with the Nazi regime: when Allied troops entered Berlin in 1945, he is said to have stood in the rubble, holding up his statuette and piteously calling out: “I have Oscar!” His successors have been considerably more respectable, providing performances that have thrilled and captivated movie audiences over decades. Here is my fantasy lineup of best actor nominees in my Oscar-of-Oscars ceremony.