The Best Actor Oscar winners of the 1990s include some of the most legendary actors in film history, like Anthony Hopkins, Al Pacino, Tom Hanks and Jack Nicholson. We’ve also seen actors springboard off their victories to have fruitful careers in film, like Geoffrey Rush and Nicolas Cage. Now, two decades later, which do you consider the greatest Best Actor winner of the 1990s?
Refamiliarize yourself with the winners and be sure to vote in our poll below. (See 2018 Oscar predictions for Best Actor.)
Jeremy Irons, “Reversal of Fortune” (1990) — The ’90s began with Jeremy Irons being awarded for “Reverse of Fortune,” in which the actor plays Claus von Bulow, a man charged with attempted murder after his wife goes into diabetic shock. Despite a long career in film this remains Irons’ only nomination and win, though he has won two Emmys for voiceover work and another for his performance in 2005’s “Elizabeth I.”
Anthony Hopkins, “The Silence of the Lambs” (1991) — One of the most iconic performances in movie history is Anthony Hopkins as the deliciously evil serial killer Hannibal Lecter in “The Silence of the Lambs.” His performance is one of the shortest to win a lead acting Oscar, clocking in at just 16 minutes, but his presence looms large over the film. He would be nominated three other times in the ’90s, for “The Remains of the Day” (1993), “Nixon” (1995) and “Amistad” (1997).
Al Pacino, “Scent of a Woman” (1992) — Al Pacino won an Oscar after seven losses thanks to “Scent of a Woman.” The legendary actor plays Frank Slade, a retired lieutenant colonel of the Army who has gone blind and requires an assistant. The actor finally prevailed after being nominated for “The Godfather” (1972), “Serpico” (1973), “The Godfather Part II” (1974), “Dog Day Afternoon” (1975), “…And Justice for All” (1979), “Dick Tracy” (1990) and “Glengarry Glen Ross” (1992).
Tom Hanks, “Philadelphia” (1993) — Tom Hanks won his first Oscar for “Philadelphia” in which he plays Andrew Beckett, a gay man afflicted with AIDS who faces homophobia after being fired from his law firm. Hanks was previously nominated for “Big” (1988) and earned subsequent nominations for “Forrest Gump” (1994), “Saving Private Ryan” (1998) and “Cast Away” (2000).
Tom Hanks, “Forrest Gump” (1994) — Hanks earned rare back-to-back acting wins in the same category for his titular performance in “Forrest Gump.” Very different from his role in “Philadelphia,” Hanks plays a simpleton who accidentally becomes part of some of the most defining moments in United States history. Spencer Tracy, Luise Rainer, Katharine Hepburn and Jason Robards are the only other actors to win consecutive Oscars.
Nicolas Cage, “Leaving Las Vegas” (1995) — Nicolas Cage may have racked up more Razzie nominations than Oscars these days, but his biggest career highlight is for “Leaving Las Vegas.” In the movie the actor plays a depressed screenwriter who heads for Las Vegas to drink himself to death, but meets a prostitute that will change his life. Cage earned another nomination for “Adaptation” (2002).
Geoffrey Rush, “Shine” (1996) — Geoffrey Rush was next to win Best Actor with “Shine,” in which he plays real-life pianist David Helfgott. Rush plays the adult version of Helfgott, who suffers a mental breakdown and is institutionalized. Rush earned three other nominations after his win, including for “Shakespeare in Love” (1998), “Quills” (2000) and “The King’s Speech” (2010).
Jack Nicholson, “As Good as It Gets” (1997) — Jack Nicholson took home his third Oscar with “As Good as It Gets.” Nicholson plays Melvin Udal, an author with obsessive-compulsive disorder who strikes up an unlikely friendship with a single mom waitress and a gay artist. The actor previously won for “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” (1975) and “Terms of Endearment” (1983), with nine additional nominations: “Easy Rider” (1969), “Five Easy Pieces” (1970), “The Last Detail” (1973), “Chinatown” (1974), “Reds” (1981), “Prizzi’s Honor” (1985), “Ironweed” (1987), “A Few Good Men” (1992) and “About Schmidt” (2002).
Roberto Benigni, “Life Is Beautiful” (1998) — Roberto Benigni is the only Best Actor champ to win with a foreign language performance — in his case, Italian. In “Life Is Beautiful” he plays Guido Orefice, a Jewish Italian father who does his best to shield his son from the horrors of life in a concentration camp. This was his only acting nomination and win, but Benigni was also nominated for Best Director and Best Original Screenplay for the film.
Kevin Spacey, “American Beauty” (1999) — Kevin Spacey took home his second Oscar for “American Beauty,” where he stars as Lester Burnham, a suburban dad who goes through a midlife crisis and falls in love with a teenage cheerleader. Spacey’s only other nomination was for “The Usual Suspects” in 1995, for which he won Best Supporting Actor.
Be sure to make your Oscar predictions so that Hollywood insiders can see how their films and performers are faring in our odds. You can keep changing your predictions until just before winners are announced on March 4. And join in the fierce debate over the 2018 Oscars taking place right now with Hollywood insiders in our movie forums. Read more Gold Derby entertainment news.