Tomei's first film role was a one-line part in The Flamingo Kid (1984). She later took another television role as Lisa Bonet's roommate on "A Different World" (1987-88). Her big break came with her turn in My Cousin Vinny (1992), for which she won a Best Supporting Actress Oscar.
She followed that with high-profile parts in Chaplin (1992), Untamed Heart (1993) and The Perez Family (1995). After her moving performance in What Women Want (2000), she earned a Best Supporting Actress Oscar nomination for In the Bedroom (2001) and The Wrestler (2008), with lighter roles in Anger Management and Alfie mixed in between.