IMDb Polls

Poll: The Oscars: First-Timers’ Club

These 15 actors and actresses were nominated for Oscars on their very first try at acting on film. Yes, they had very little or no experience whatsoever. Some won. Most lost out. They are however memorable.

Which actor or actress in your opinion gave the most moving performance?

After voting, please discuss here.

See the article here on the full story behind these 15 wonderful performances at Vulture by Vikram Murthi.

Make Your Choice

  1. Vote!

    Anna Paquin in The Piano (1993)

    Flora McGrath. Paquin's only acting experience was as a skunk in a school play. But when the 9-year-old tried out with her sister for the role of Flora, she impressed director Jane Campion and beat out 5,000 other girls for the role.
  2. Vote!

    Mikhail Baryshnikov and Leslie Browne in The Turning Point (1977)

    Mikhail Baryshnikov as Yuri. The American Ballet Theatre was already Mikhail's claim to fame. But it would be his dramatic acting career that brought him a greater global recognition. This was his debut performance in Herbert Ross’s The Turning Point.
  3. Vote!

    Oprah Winfrey in The Color Purple (1985)

    Sofie. Winfrey was already a local news anchor in Nashville and Baltimore, as well as the host of a morning talk show in Chicago without any acting experience when she was cast in Steven Spielberg’s adaptation of The Color Purple.
  4. Vote!

    Catherine Dale Owen and Lawrence Tibbett in The Rogue Song (1930)

    Lawrence Tibbett as Yegor. Sadly no known copy of this film exists. But it was MGM’s first talkie Technicolor film. Probably best known at the time for featuring eight Laurel and Hardy sequences. Tibbett was primarily known as an acclaimed baritone opera singer with the Metropolitan Opera before trying out acting. No one probably has seen this, but it is here as a reminder of the history of those that contributed long ago.
  5. Vote!

    Quvenzhané Wallis in Beasts of the Southern Wild (2012)

    Hushpuppy. Wallis who was 5 years old when cast, was 9 years old when nominated, lost out to Jennifer Lawrence in the 'Silver Linings Playbook' for an Oscar.
  6. Vote!

    Harold Russell in The Best Years of Our Lives (1946)

    Homer Parrish. Russell is the only actor to win 2 Oscars for the same performance. He was wounded from his participation on D-Day in June 44' and was cast after being noticed by William Wyler. Now the Academy wanted to be sure of an Oscar for him as they figured he had no chance of winning for his nomination, so the Academy created an honorary Oscar for presentation. Were they surprised he won too? You bet!
  7. Vote!

    Haing S. Ngor in The Killing Fields (1984)

    Dith Pran. Ngor who had never acted before, relied on his experiences fighting for his life in Cambodia during the Vietnam War. Ngor did win an Oscar, making him the second nonprofessional actor to do so after to Harold Russell.
  8. Vote!

    Catalina Sandino Moreno in Maria Full of Grace (2004)

    María Álvarez. Was studying advertising in college and taking acting lessons on the side when this opportunity arose. It was her mother that convinced her to go try out for the part of Maria after being told about the casting call by a friend from her acting class.
  9. Vote!

    Gabourey Sidibe in Precious (2009)

    Precious. Discovered at an open audition in New York. She had no prior acting experience and was previously a receptionist at the not-for-profit, Fresh Air Fund.
  10. Vote!

    Barkhad Abdi in Captain Phillips (2013)

    Muse. Abdi was working as a limo driver in Minneapolis before he auditioned out of the blue for this role. Was chosen out of 700 applicants to co-star opposite Tom Hanks. Lost out to Jared Leto for an Oscar in the 'Dallas Buyers Club.' Famous for his improvised line, “I’m the Captain now”
  11. Vote!

    Yalitza Aparicio in Roma (2018)

    Cleo. Studying to be a preschool teacher when her sister pushed her to audition for Roma. Several months later she got a call for a meet with director Alfonso Cuarón. Aparicio had no clue who this Alfonso was, but she went. She got the part.
  12. Vote!

    Tatum O'Neal in Paper Moon (1973)

    Addie Loggins. Tatum O’Neal was only 9 years old and had never acted when she co-starred opposite her father, Ryan. Guess the acting gene runs in the family. Tatum would win the Oscar for her performance.
  13. Vote!

    Keisha Castle-Hughes in Whale Rider (2002)

    Paikea. Only 11 years old when she won the role without any prior experience as an actress.
  14. Vote!

    Diana Ross in Lady Sings the Blues (1972)

    Billie Holiday. Diana Ross of the Supremes, made her acting debut as Billie Holiday. She had no formal training in acting but managed to garner an Oscar nomination. She would however lose out to fellow singer Liza Minnelli for her role in 'Cabaret.'
  15. Vote!

    Jennifer Hudson in Dreamgirls (2006)

    Effie White. A third season of American Idol casualty, when there were 7 contestants remaining. She however got the Grand Prize so to say when she beat out eventual winner Fantasia Barrino for a role in this movie. She would go on to win an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress.

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