Five of the Best – Actor Winners

And the best actor award goes to…

Welcome back to Five of the Best, in this edition we are looking at five of the very best performances from  an actor in both a leading or supporting role as recognised by the Academy Awards.

Oscar’s night is fast approaching and the red carpet will be rolled out for movie stars (and others) that are dolled up for the annual fancy dress parade of Hollywood Boulevard. But more importantly who will win the coveted award? Will there be any so-called shocks? And who will be the first to drop an F Bomb on their acceptance speech?


Tom Hanks –  Philadelphia (Demme, 1993) & Forrest Gump (Zemeckis, 1994)

Tom Hanks as Forrest Gump

The year was 1994 and Tom Hanks made a film called Forrest Gump with Back to the Future director Robert Zemeckis. Straight off the back winning an Oscar in the actor in a leading role category in 1993 for Philadelphia, little did Hanks know that he would be nominated and win another Oscar the following year but he did, deservedly so.

The word classic or legendary is bandied around far too often for many things ordinary but in the case of Forrest Gump, the film is a classic and Hanks’ performance is the act of legends.


Christoph Waltz – Inglourious Basterds (Tarantino, 2009) & Django Unchained (Tarantino, 2012)

Christoph Waltz as Col. Hans Landa

Quentin Tarantino has written many memorable roles but I think Hans Landa the Austrian SS officer in Inglorious Basterds is arguably the most memorable of all his films. Casting Christoph Waltz as Hans was a stroke of genius too, as the actor embodies the menace of “The Jew Hunter” and creates a character so realistic you almost forget he is indeed acting.

That year, Waltz took away the Oscar for Best actor in a supporting role but really he stole the show in Inglorious Basterds with his mesmerising performance. Waltz also scooped an Oscar for his performance in Django Unchained, three years later.


Hilary Swank – Million Dollar Baby (Eastwood, 2004) & Boys Don’t Cry (Peirce, 2000)

Hilary Swank as Maggie Fitzgerald

A superb performance from Hilary Swank in Million Dollar Baby was recognised by the Academy Awards when she received an Oscar in 2004. This was the second time in five years she had won an Oscar and her star status among Hollywood’s acting elite was cemented in this hard-hitting film made by actor/director Clint Eastwood.

It’s very powerful and Swank’s performance draws on her range and ability to act out a character that’s multifaceted.


Robin Williams – Good Will Hunting (1997, Van Sant)

Robin Williams as Sean Maguire

This scene in Good Will Hunting is one that any aspiring actor should look to for inspiration. In my opinion it’s absolutely flawless acting from Robin Williams in a role you wouldn’t normally associate him playing.

Williams won the Oscar in 1997 for his performance in Good Will Hunting and deservedly so, he steals every scene he’s in but kudos must also go to Matt Damon and Ben Affleck for writing the script.


Jack Nicholson – One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest (Forman, 1975) & As Good as It Gets (Brooks, 1997) & Terms of Endearment (Brooks, 1983)

Jack Nicholson as R.P. McMurphy

Jack Nicholson won an Oscar for his role of R.P McMurphy in One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest in 1976. Since then audiences have become accustomed to his lively, zany performances that 99% of the time light up the silver screen but really it all started in this film.

Nicholson has gone on to win a further two Oscars in his career however its his performance in One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest that he will always be remembered for most. The film went on to win a further four Oscars.

Noteable mentions: Meryl Streep, Nicole Kidman, Matthew McConaughey


Do you agree with our Five of the Best actor winners? Let us know what you think by leaving a comment below.

Five of the Best – Actor Winners feature image credit: Photo by Alan Light

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