Bale nabs an Academy Award for his riveting role as Dicky Ecklund in The Fighter. "What the hell am I doing here next to you?" the 37-year-old actor asks his fellow nominees during his acceptance speech. "I'm not going to drop the F-bomb like [costar Melissa Leo] did. I've done that plenty before."
Bale dons his bat suit one last time for director Christopher Nolan's The Dark Knight Rises. During the film's opening weekend, tragedy strikes when a gunman opens fire at a midnight screening in Aurora, Colo., whose victims the actor soon visits. "I cannot begin to truly understand the pain and grief of the victims and their loved ones, but my heart goes out to them," Bale says. Nonetheless, The Dark Knight Rises goes on to gross $3.5 billion worldwide.
Reuniting with his The Fighter director, David O. Russell, Bale packs on the pounds to play con man Irving Rosenfeld, who alongside his mistress (Amy Adams) and wife (Jennifer Lawrence) is forced to help the FBI crack down on corrupt politicians. The film, which costars Bradley Cooper and Jeremy Renner, earns Bale Golden Globe and Oscar nominations.
On the Oscars red carpet, Bale's wife Sibi debuts the beginnings of a baby bump and PEOPLE later confirms the couple is set to welcome their second child. "It's all about my girls, my wife and my daughter. I carry a picture of them with me all the time," the notoriously private star gushed in 2009.
BIOGRAPHY (top to bottom): Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic; Warner Bros.; Francois Duhamel/Sony Pictures; Steve Granitz/Wireimage