Winning an Oscar is undoubtedly a high point in the film industry. It is also said to give a boost to one’s career, push it forward in the right direction. Not all Oscar winners, however, manage a long and illustrious time in the industry. Some peak early and disappear, and some continue to remain at the zenith for long periods. I thought it would be interesting to check up on Oscar winners of the past, probably those who were in the limelight around two decades back, and see how well do they hold themselves now in the movie industry. To begin with, I am only considering winners of the Best Actor and Best Actress awards, from 1991 to 1995, which would mean going back 20 to 25 years. And just for clarity, I am considering the year the Oscar was awarded and not the year of the movie release, that is, a movie of 1990 would be considered for the Academy Awards held in 1991. So here we go…
Best Actor Category
Jeremy Irons, Reversal of Fortune (1991): Jeremy Irons is a highly distinguished actor who has featured in a multitude of roles. But rarely over the past decade would we have seen him as the central character of a movie, and he is typically part of an ensemble cast. At the age of 66, his career is still very much alive and kicking, and most notably we will see him soon as the butler Alfred in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and the mathematician G.H. Hardy in The Man Who Knew Infinity.
Anthony Hopkins, The Silence of the Lambs (1992): Anthony Hopkins has had a long and illustrious movie career, which has gradually shifted from central roles to more of supporting roles. After the Oscar win, three more nominations followed, twice for Best Actor and once for Best Supporting Actor. At the age of 77, Anthony Hopkins still remains a popular figure in movies, a name mentioned on the movie posters prominently, and roles such as that of Odin in Thor series have kept him in the eye of a wide audience.
Al Pacino, Scent of a Woman (1993): The fact that Al Pacino won his first and only Oscar after seven failed nominations is a mystery to me, as it would be to many others. The greatness of this man as an actor cannot be talked about through his awards, but through his roles, movies, and the awe he once carried in Hollywood. But at the age of 74, and after such a long career, Pacino is a fading star now, featuring in one or two movies a year (as the lead actor usually) which receive good reviews but do not get a widespread audience. Does he have one last great performance still to deliver? I would love to believe that.
Tom Hanks, Philadelphia (1994): Winning the Oscar was just something that happened as a passing event in the history of this fantastic actor. His career was already in full throttle then and has hardly slowed down ever since. His last Oscar nomination was in 2001, but that has made little difference to Tom Hanks who delivered another spectacular performance in 2013’s Captain Phillips. At the age of 58, Tom Hanks is still lead role-material; we will see him in Steven Spielberg’s Bridge of Spies playing an attorney during the Cold War period, then in A Hologram for the King as a failed businessman who travels to Saudia Arabia, then re-teaming with Meg Ryan in Ithaca, and then reprise his role of Robert Langdon from the Dan Brown book series in Inferno.
Tom Hanks, Forrest Gump (1995): Read above.
Best Actress Category
Kathy Bates, Misery (1991): Kathy Bates edged out the likes of Meryl Streep and Julia Roberts to win the Oscar, but she never became a famous central leading actress as the other two. Two more Oscar nominations have followed for Kathy Bates, but both have been in the Supporting Actress category. At 66, she still squeezes in a few movies here and there, but she is now more popular as part of the TV series American Horror Story which got her a Golden Globe nomination recently (for Supporting Actress!).
Jodie Foster, The Silence of the Lambs (1992): Jodie Foster, who was already an Oscar winner by the time she collected the award for The Silence of the Lambs, held her own for probably another decade before she started gradually disappearing from the movie world. She chose to do limited movies, her last one being 2013’s Elysium, though her latest movie as a director, Money Monster, is to release in this year. I always thought she could have made more out of her career, but such has been her choice.
Emma Thompson, Howards End (1993): Emma Thompson is a classy actress, who was at her peak in the early to mid 90s. She still remains very much in the mix of things, and many youngsters would recognise her as Professor Sybil Trelawney in the Harry Potter series. Quite recently, she put an excellent depiction of the author P.L. Travers in Saving Mr. Banks. At 55, she has a whole bag of movies in her hand at present, dipping in each kind of genre, though very few as the lead character.
Holly Hunter, The Piano (1994): Holly Hunter’s career as a leading lady never really took off, despite the Oscar win. She did get nominated in the Supporting Actress category a decade later for the movie Thirteen, but that too did not revitalize her career in Hollywood. Shifting to telly, she got more recognition in the TV series Saving Grace which got her a Golden Globe nomination. She is part of a big cast in Terrance Malick’s next movie Weightless and is also part of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice though her character is named only as ‘US Senator’.
Jessica Lange, Blue Sky (1995): Jessica Lange was already a veteran actress by the time she walked on stage to pick up her second Oscar for Blue Sky, the first being for Best Supporting Actress for Tootsie in 1983. Jessica Lange had made her film debut way back in 1976, as the object of attraction for a certain King Kong in the remake. In recent years, she has been more popular for her role in the TV series American Horror Story which bagged her a Golden Globe in 2012 and Emmy in 2012 and 2014. At 65, she does not have many movies lined up for now, but since she has decided to leave American Horror Story, things might change.