The supporting acting Academy Award categories often give unsung and unknown performers a chance to shine, and that was certainly the case with the 1993 Best Supporting Actor nominees, a group that included two or three unforgettable villains and at least three starmaking performances. Ralph Fiennes went from unknown to star overnight with his chilling turn as the Nazi commandant in Schindler’s List. Pete Postlethwaite also found himself suddenly on the map, thanks to his understated but devastating performance as Daniel Day-Lewis’ dad and cellmate from In the Name of the Father. Leonardo DiCaprio went from promising child actor to serious thespian with his thoroughly convincing portrayal of Johnny Depp’s developmentally disabled brother in What’s Eating Gilbert Grape. John Malkovich found his signature bad-guy role as the would-be presidential assassin who toys with Clint Eastwood from In the Line of Fire. And Tommy Lee Jones, after two decades as a reliable character actor, became a bankable star for the rest of his career with his all-business turn as the relentless marshal who pursues Harrison Ford in The Fugitive.
Fiennes might have ridden the momentum that allowed Schindler to sweep the Oscars that year, but perhaps the Academy figured he and DiCaprio and Postlethwaite were new talents who’d have another shot at a statuette later. That left two actors who played antagonists in big box-office hit action movies. Malkovich was typically excellent, but voters may have felt he was just playing a typical Malkovich villain. That left Jones, who seemed to rise above the genre material and make his character a real person, even a sympathetic one. Jones won the trophy, though 15 years later, it’s DiCaprio’s performance that still astonishes, Postlethwaite’s that still seems sadly underrated, and Fiennes’ that still freezes the blood.
Looking back from today’s perspective, which of these performances doyou think is the best? Vote in our poll, and list your comments below.(For a refresher, watch the clips embedded after the jump, whichmay contain some NSFW language.) Remember, we’ll be running the Recall the Gold surveys every Tuesdayand Thursday until January, so you may go back at any time and vote inthe other polls (click hereto see them all), reexamining the Oscar races of 5, 10, 15, 20, and 25years ago. On Thursday, Nov. 6, we’ll look at the 1988 Best Actorcompetition. Watch also for commentary and context throughout EW.com,including on Dave Karger’s new Oscar Watch blog.
Leonardo DiCaprio in What’s Eating Gilbert Grape
Ralph Fiennes in Schindler’s List
Tommy Lee Jones in The Fugitive
John Malkovich in In the Line of Fire
Pete Postlethwaite in In the Name of the Father