For a career that started with an obscure 1980 horror movie called He Knows You're Alone, Tom Hanks has had a good career in the film world. In his case, a good career has been more than that.
In the 30+ years since his debut, Hanks has earned a reputation as one of the most successful actors of all time - with blockbusters as diverse in genre as Splash, A League of Their Own, Sleepless in Seattle, Apollo 13, the Toy Story trilogy, Catch Me If You Can and The Da Vinci Code. His films have often grossed millions in the box office, and even when any projects have met with mixed reviews, Hanks has often emerged unscathed in the criticism. Hanks has also made his mark in television, as an executive producer of the hugely successful miniseries From the Earth to the Moon, Band of Brothers and John Adams.
When it comes to Hollywood's biggest night, Hanks has had a good measure of success; he has earned five Academy Award nominations, all for Best Actor, with two wins in his career. For the 2013 awards season, he has an opportunity to pull off a rare feat in Oscar history: earning two acting nods in the same year. Eleven actors have achieved such an accomplishment, including Jessica Lange, Al Pacino, Holly Hunter, Julianne Moore and Jamie Foxx. Hanks' two chances to strike Oscar gold - or at least two nominations - deal with two real-life stories but with very different characters. One is a ship captain caught in a mutiny with African pirates in the true-life drama Captain Phillips; the other has Hanks playing Walt Disney, trying to convince the author of Mary Poppins to allow him to make it into a movie in Saving Mr. Banks.
Even if he scored only one nomination this season and missing the rare feat, it would still be a major accomplishment for Hanks in another regard. Even with his history on Oscar night, it has been a long wait for the actor to return. Hanks' last nomination was over a decade ago, and has not returned to the competition since.
Hanks' debut trip to the Oscar dance came for the 1988 Penny Marshall smash Big, portraying a little boy who wishes he was big - and finds himself on a grown-up adventure through New York City. The actor's winning personality earned plaudits from critics, including his first Best Actor bid; he would be defeated by heavy favorite Dustin Hoffman, for his portrayal in the eventual Best Picture winner Rain Man. When Hanks came back for his next two nominations, the outcome would easily be different.
In 1993, Hanks took on one of his riskiest portrayals as Andrew Beckett, a gay lawyer with AIDS who sues his law firm for terminating him in the drama Philadelphia. Even with a top-notch ensemble including Denzel Washington, Jason Robards and Antonio Banderas, Hanks held his own in the lead role - and his sympathetic, moving portrayal of Andrew was widely praised. The character earned Hanks his first Best Actor Oscar, with his acceptance speech praising the gay mentors in his life and those who had died of AIDS hailed as a landmark statement for the ceremony.
The following year, Hanks launched into a blockbuster character in Forrest Gump, a man who unwittingly finds himself in major events of American history while trying to live a simple existence. Forrest's journey landed Hanks back in the Best Actor race, competing against The Shawshank Redemption's Morgan Freeman and Pulp Fiction's comeback king John Travolta. Yet Hanks pulled off the win, joining Spencer Tracy as the only men to win back-to-back Best Actor statuettes.
At the 1998 Oscars, Hanks ended a four-year absence in competition with help from one of the most successful directors in film history. The actor led an ensemble cast of soldiers traversing and fighting in Europe while looking for one of their own in Steven Spielberg's war drama Saving Private Ryan. Hanks' portrayal of Captain John Miller showcased a man torn and embittered by the horrors of war, but vows to finish out his mission in retrieving the title character. Unlike his last two trips to the Oscars, he would lose the Best Actor Oscar to a surprising victor in Life is Beautiful's Italian wunderkind Roberto Benigni.
Hanks' most recent Oscar nomination came during the 2000 awards season, with the actor pulling off a near one-man tour de force in Robert Zemeckis' adventure drama Cast Away. The film featured Hanks as a Federal Express employee whose plane crashes, and he finds himself marooned on a desert island. For a majority of Cast Away's 2 1/2-hour running time, Hanks is the only actor on screen and with limited dialogue - though he also manages to pull off an unusual collaboration with a volleyball (Wilson) as his only companion. While Cast Away brought Hanks a Golden Globe win for his towering performance, his fifth Best Actor trip would not be as golden; the award went for Russell Crowe, for the sword-and-sandals epic Gladiator (which would also win Best Picture that year).
After his nomination for Cast Away, Hanks continued his reputation as a hugely successful actor - while venturing into television as a producer, and even took on the Broadway stage in the late Nora Ephron's newspaper drama Lucky Guy. Yet he has been away from the Academy Award ceremonies as a nominee for 13 years, an extended stretch for an actor in between bids. Hanks has an opportunity this year to not only end the long wait, but to possibly add himself to another list of Oscar history. With two significant roles in Captain Phillips and Walt Disney, Hanks may end up in two categories for a statuette - returning him as a contender on Hollywood's biggest night.