Sunday, April 14, 2024

Every Oscar Winner Born In The 1990s

At the 96th Academy Awards, Billie Eilish extended her own record. The singer was already the first and only Oscar-winner born in the 2000s, and after winning Best Original Song for “What Was I Made For?” she has done it twice. Another record was set the same night: the tenth Oscar winner born in the 1990s was minted. Winning an Oscar in your twenties is a rare feat, so the list of Oscar winners born in the 1990s is currently short. Now, as ’90s babies continue to enter their third decade, the list will grow exponentially over the next few years. While the list remains short, here are all ten Oscar winners born in the 1990s.

JENNIFER LAWRENCE – Best ActressThe first ’90s baby to win an Oscar, Jennifer Lawrence certainly made a splash when she won Best Actress for the role of Tiffany Maxwell in “Silver Linings Playbook.” Despite tripping up the stairs on her way to accept the Oscar, Lawrence became the second-youngest Best Actress winner to date. Before her win in 2013, Lawrence received a nomination for “Winter’s Bone” when she was 20. She wasn’t the first ’90s baby to receive a nomination, though. That honor goes to Keisha Castle-Hughes, who was nominated for Best Actress for “Whale Rider” when she was just 13 years old. In the years since Lawrence’s win, she’s received two more nominations: Best Supporting Actress for “American Hustle” and Best Actress for “Joy.”

SAM SMITH – Best Original SongWhile nowadays it seems as though writing a James Bond theme song is a guaranteed Oscar win, Adele was the first person to ever win Best Original Song for hers. So, when Sam Smith wrote and performed “Writing’s On The Wall” from “Spectre,” it wasn’t seen as a slam dunk. Mixed reviews from “Spectre” didn’t help things either. “See You Again” from “Furious 7” was initially presumed to be the stronger contender to win the Oscar, but surprisingly missed a nomination altogether. “Writing’s On The Wall” prevailed in the end, making Smith, born in 1992, the second person born in the 1990s to win an Academy Award. That year, Smith and The Weeknd, nominated for “Earned It” from “Fifty Shades of Grey,” became the first two nominees for Best Original Song to be born in the 1990s. Neither Smith nor co-writer Jimmy Napes has received a follow-up nomination.

H.E.R. – Best Original SongAfter Sam Smith’s win, another five years passed before another ’90s baby won an Oscar. Amidst the chaos of the 2020-2021 Oscar race, extended and delayed due to COVID-19, the Best Original Song race was all over the place. Leslie Odom Jr.’s song from “One Night in Miami” was considered the frontrunner for much of the season, yet lost the Golden Globe to “Io sì” from “The Life Ahead.” A heavily concentrated push for “Husavik” from “Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga” caused many to wonder if it could crash the race. Despite no significant precursor wins, “Fight For You” from “Judas and the Black Messiah” won Best Original Song. With the win, H.E.R., born in 1997, became the third Oscar winner born in the 1990s and the second to win for Original Song.

ARIANA DEBOSE – Best Supporting ActressOnly a handful of roles have led multiple actors to Oscar wins. Vito Corleone, for instance, brought Marlon Brando and Robert De Niro each an Oscar, as did The Joker for Heath Ledger and Joaquin Phoenix. So when Steven Spielberg announced he would be remaking “West Side Story,” all eyes went to the relatively unknown actress cast as Anita. Rita Moreno won an Oscar for the same role in the 1961 version of “West Side Story,” so the stage was set for another actress to take on the juicy and beloved role. After a run in the original ensemble of “Hamilton” on Broadway and earning a Tony nomination for her featured role in “Summer: The Donna Summer Musical,” Ariana Debose, born in 1991, was cast as Anita. Spielberg’s “West Side Story” debuted to unqualified raves in December 2021, upending the Oscar race. Subsequently, Debose won every major precursor that season and coasted to an Oscar win. Following Jennifer Lawrence, she was the second actor born in the ’90s to win.

BEN PROUDFOOT – Best Documentary Short FilmIn just a few short years, Ben Proudfoot, born in 1990, has proved to be quite popular within the Documentary Branch. He scored his first nomination in Best Documentary Short alongside composer Kris Bowers for “A Concerto is a Conversation” in 2021. They were widely predicted to win that year but ultimately lost to “Colette.” Nevertheless, Proudfoot followed that up less than a year later with a solo nomination and win for “The Queen of Basketball,” becoming the fourth person born in the 1990s to win an Academy Award. He was one of three ’90s babies to win Oscars at the 94th Academy Awards. His journey didn’t end there, though. Two years later, at the 96th Academy Awards, Proudfoot was again nominated for Best Documentary Short alongside Bowers for “The Last Repair Shop.” The film won, making Proudfoot the first person born in the 1990s to win a second Academy Award, followed by Finneas later that night.

FINNEAS – Best Original SongBillie Elilish may be the more prominent name, but her success is irrevocably tied to her brother, Finneas, who was born in 1997. The young pair write and produce all of their music by themselves, which is an extraordinarily rare feat for pop stars of their magnitude. In January 2020, when Eilish was just 18, she was announced as the singer of the theme song for “No Time To Die,” the final entry in Daniel Craig’s James Bond saga. While Covid delayed the project another year, Eilish and Finneas soared to an easy victory in Best Original Song at the 94th Academy Awards. Eilish, born in 2001, became the first, and so far only, Oscar winner born in the 21st century, while Finneas became the fifth ’90s-born Oscar winner. Two years later, at the 96th Academy Awards, Eilish and Finneas scored again in Best Original Song with “What Was I Made For?” from “Barbie.” Finneas and Ben Proudfoot are the only ’90s babies to win two Oscars, and they won both their Oscars on the same nights.

TOM BERKELEY & ROSS WHITE – Best Live Action Short FilmTom Berekley and Ross White are the only ’90s-born Oscar winners to share an award. The British filmmakers, both born in 1996, have directed three short films together. Their first short, “Roy,” was shortlisted for the BAFTA Award for Best British Short Film. They found an even greater level of success with their second film, “An Irish Goodbye.” The dark comedy follows two estranged brothers reuniting for their mother’s funeral. The short took home the Academy Award for Best Live Action Short, the first film in 30 years to win both the Oscar and BAFTA. While their third short, “The Golden West,” didn’t get much awards attention, the directors have signed with WME and reportedly have their debut feature in the works.

DANIEL ROHER – Best Documentary FeatureNavalny” premiered at Sundance in 2022, scoring immense critical acclaim and winning the Audience Award for Documentary. While other strong contenders for Best Documentary popped up throughout the year, like “Good Night Oppy” and “All The Beauty and the Bloodshed,” the geo-political power of “Navalny” won out in the end. The film, directed by Daniel Roher (born in 1993), won the BAFTA, PGA, and Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature. Since the film’s release, the documentary has only grown in importance, as it was the last record of Alexei Navalny’s life and work before his assassination in Russia in February 2024. A year after Roher’s win, the Academy used Navalny’s words to open up the In Memorium portion of the 96th Academy Awards.

TATSUJI NOJIMA – Best Visual EffectsGodzilla Minus OneThe race for Best Visual Effects in 2023 was a wild ride. “Oppenheimer” was the presumed frontrunner until it was left off the longlist entirely. All eyes then went to “Poor Things” or even “Society of the Snow,” but neither film eventually scored a nomination. Instead, the category became a battle between “The Creator,” despite its mixed reviews, and “Godzilla Minus One,” the unexpected U.S. hit. Ultimately, “Godzilla Minus One” won, reportedly becoming the film with the smallest budget to win Best Visual Effects. Of the four recipients from “Godzilla Minus One,” only Tatsuji Nojima was born in the ’90s. Born in 1998, he’s the youngest of the ten ’90s-born Oscar winners and the only one to win for a non-English language film.

While these ten are the only Oscar winners born in the 1990s, plenty have scored nominations by now. People like Saoirse Ronan, Timothée Chalamet, Paul Mescal, Florence Pugh, Kristen Stewart, and more have already received their first nominations and seem destined to join this list of winners. So far, no ’90s babies have received nominations for writing or directing, but the list of nominees will start growing soon.

Which of these winners is your favorite? Who do you think will be the first male actor to join this list? How long do you think it will take for a 90s-born director to win an Oscar? Please let us know in the comments section below or over on our Twitter account.

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Daniel Howat
Daniel Howat
Movie and awards season obsessed. Hollywood Critics Association Member.

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