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Leading Man Tournament Week 7: The 1990s

I hate to date myself but I’m finally in my decade.  Don’t misunderstand, I love classic movies but I was raised in the 1990s so I have deep-seated movie roots to all the men listed in this week.  It was really hard for me to settle on 1990s actors because I knew so many.  A few actors I hated to get rid of (Jim Carrey comes to mind) and another you’ll see next week.  Suffice it to say this decade would benefit the most from being expanded to ten nominees.  Regardless, the 1990s produced the last crop of true “movie stars.”  These actors still endure and make diverse films today and I’m proud to say they represent the decade.  Remember, asterisks next to titles indicate I’ve reviewed these films on the site (you probably won’t see any of those this week).  Voting runs till next Sunday (July 8th) and poll updates will be posted Tuesday and Thursday.  Happy voting and here are the nominees!

LEONARDO DICAPRIO

Films That Secured His Nomination: What’s Eating Gilbert Grape, Romeo + Juliet, Titanic

My Thoughts on the Nominee: He may have only done three movies that describe the decade but boy were those movies something (especially the latter two).  I saw Titanic twice in theaters and despite its backlash I still adore its epic spectacle and it cemented my love of DiCaprio (you did not want my ten-year-old bedroom…it was DiCaprio central).  And yet his movies are still great and who can say at such a young age they worked with both James Cameron and Baz Lurhmann?  For many their first taste of Shakespeare involved DiCaprio in Romeo + Juliet.  You can say what you want about the films but they cemented a pretty solid career for DiCaprio who left a legion of fangirls in his wake.

JOHNNY DEPP

Films That Secured His Nomination:  Edward Scissorhands, Benny & Joon, Ed Wood, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, Sleepy Hollow

My Thoughts on the Nominee: Who doesn’t love Johnny Depp?  Okay, well if you don’t like him now (and I can’t say I blame you) you had to love him in the 90s!  It was hard for me to limit the nominations this time to five because so many of his films are on rotation in my house. He had two iconic pairings with long-time friend/collaborator Tim Burton, specifically Edward Scissorhands (a film that frightened me till I was 15) and Sleepy Hollow, one of the last great Gothic films from Burton/Depp in my opinion.  Other than that, Depp was a chameleon in the 1990s doing literally every genre of film from romance (Benny and Joon, Cry-Baby) to action (Nick of Time) and even biopic playing schlock director Ed Wood.  I’m thinking he’ll be the one to beat in this tournament, but I’ve been wrong the last six weeks.

TOM HANKS

Films That Secured His Nomination: A League of Their Own, Sleepless in Seattle, Philadelphia, Forrest Gump, Saving Private Ryan

My Thoughts on the Nominee:  Another actor whose resume I had a hard time narrowing down.  Hanks is another actor who has produced a prolific body of work in nearly every genre.  He’s a master comedian as seen in A League of Their Own (a film that I can quote to the point of annoyance) to romances (if I didn’t include Sleepless in Seattle I feared for my safety) and even animation as the voice of Woody the cowboy in Toy Story, a film that is included in spirit as the actor isn’t on-screen.  He’s won numerous awards and the films above are just a few of the award-winning films that he put out during this decade.  Not to mention Hanks will always get a free pass for making my two favorite film of all time, That Thing You Do and Forrest Gump.

WILL SMITH

Films That Secured His Nomination: Bad Boys, Independence Day, Men in Black

My Thoughts on the Nominee: I won’t start this out by using the lines from the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air theme song (have I got you singing it now?).  Back in the 1990s there was a reason Will Smith was called the King of Fourth of July.  Both Independence Day and Men in Black were spectacular and iconic representations of what 4th of July at the box office looked like.  While that slid eventually with the release of The Wild, Wild, West that same year (I film I felt was best to not use as a nominee), the man still has star power!  The 1990s also saw him put out not one but two franchises with Michael Bay’s Bad Boys which spawned a successful sequel.  I really miss bad-ass, R-rated Will Smith.  That’s the 90s was all about!

BRAD PITT

Films That Secured His Nomination: Thelma & Louise, Interview with the Vampire, Se7en, Fight Club

You’re welcome ladies

My Thoughts on the Nominee: One can’t deny Brad Pitt has star power as evidenced by the small list of films I listed as nominee worthy.  As seen with all the nominees this week, Pitt has done every genre of film and while the movies might not always be good (or Pitt’s accent…seriously Seven Years in Tibet), he’s always got you hooked.  The 1990s saw Pitt go from one end of the spectrum to the other starting out as the sexy drifter who steals Geena Davis’ heart and wallet in Thelma & Louise, and ending the decade as macho man extraordinaire Tyler Durden in Fight Club.  In between there were some other amazing examples of his ability to be both heroic and villainous.  Brad Pitt proved he wasn’t just a pretty face.

Good luck to our nominees!

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Kristen Lopez View All

A freelance film critic whose work fuels the Rotten Tomatoes meter. I've been published on The Hollywood Reporter, Remezcla, and The Daily Beast. I've been featured in the L.A. Times. I currently run two podcasts, Citizen Dame and Ticklish Business.

5 thoughts on “Leading Man Tournament Week 7: The 1990s Leave a comment

  1. See, now this is awkward. I like to reference Catch Me If You Can as the film where the best actor of the 90s (Tom Hanks) passed the baton to the best actor of the 00s (DiCaprio). But now you are making me choose between them.

  2. When it was actually the 90s, I was crazy for Leo, but now I like everyone else better. I will see ANYTHING Will Smith is in, so I’ve voted for him. But I don’t think any outcome from this round of voting will be at all disappointing!

    • Yes Leo was my obsession growing up and while I still love his work he doesn’t have the mix of looks to acting talent like Mr. Johnny Depp (in my opinion). Smith was definitely representative of the 1990s too. As you mentioned whoever wins this decade, more than the others, would be a worthy choice. Thanks for voting!

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