Over the years, we've become way too familiar with the likes of Leonardo DiCaprio, Cate Blanchett, Jennifer Lawrence, Christian Bale and Kate Winslet, whose names have made the nominees list yet again at the upcoming 88th Annual Academy Awards.
Thankfully, there are some new faces this year who will save the ceremony - which will air live on HBO (StarHub TV Ch 601) on Feb 29 at 9.30am - from turning into #OscarsSoSame.
And if we're lucky, a couple of these first-time nominees may just snatch the biggie from the Oscar regulars. Get to know them here before the big day...
BRYAN CRANSTON, 59
Best Actor (Trumbo)
- The veteran US actor is nominated for playing Oscar-winning screenwriter Dalton Trumbo, who was among the Hollywood Ten, a group of individuals who were blacklisted over their alleged membership in the Communist Party USA in the late 1940s.
- Cranston wasn't the first choice to play Trumbo. Producer Michael London and director Jay Roach offered it first to George Clooney and then to Matt Damon before turning to Cranston."The challenge of bringing Trumbo to the screen was that not many people wanted to tell this story. You have no action, no sex, and the lead character is a communist," Cranston told Deadline. "That said, it is a highly introspective story, and a highly relevant story."
- Cranston, who joined showbiz in 1968 and has won four Best Actor Emmy Awards for Breaking Bad, can next be seen - or rather heard - in the animated hit Kung Fu Panda 3. Opening here March 10, he voices Li, the long-lost father of hero Po (Jack Black).
CHARLOTTE RAMPLING, 70
Best Actress (45 Years)
- The English thespian spends most of her time in France, where she's hailed as "La Legende" (The Legend) and has never subscribed to the Hollywood system, opting for arthouse films "that perhaps were a little bit more difficult to make and certainly wouldn't necessarily put me on the Oscar trail," she told People magazine.
- In 45 Years, she plays a woman who, on the eve of her wedding anniversary, discovers her husband (Tom Courtenay) may still be in love with a long-dead girlfriend.
- Being Oscar-nominated means being in "a complete sisterhood" with her much younger Best Actress nominees. About her competition, Rampling told Deadline: "It hasn't just happened overnight for them. They will actually have very long and beautiful careers, because they will be able to play very young women, but they will also be able to play older women."
BRIE LARSON, 26
Best Actress (Room)
- Larson is this year's breakout starlet, wowing critics and audiences as Joy, the young mum who escapes captivity with her five-year-old son Jack (Jacob Tremblay) and tries to help her boy adapt to the world outside their confined shed. She's a shoo-in to win the Oscar, considering she has already taken home the coveted Golden Globe, Screen Actors Guild and Bafta (British Academy Of Film And Television Arts) awards.
- Larson dabbled in music and released her first album Finally Out Of P.E. in 2005. It featured 13 tracks, some of which she co-wrote.
- The Californian, who got her showbiz start as a series regular on the short-lived sitcom Raising Dad in 2002, is also a film-maker, having directed two shorts, Weighting (2011) and The Arm (2012).
TOM HARDY, 38
Best Supporting Actor (The Revenant)
- The Brit, nominated for being the bad guy who leaves Leonardo DiCaprio to die in The Revenant, has largely been absent from this year's Oscar publicity because of work - he's starring in and producing Taboo, an eight-part TV series that's filming in England.
- Mad Max: Fury Road - where he plays the anti-hero - and The Revenant are both Best Picture contenders and were the most gruelling shoots Hardy has ever done, and one feat he accomplished back-to-back. He told Empire he spent 200 days "in the desert dragging bits of metal around and then about 800 days in Calgary with a beard and a bear and Leonardo".
- Hardy made his big-screen debut in Ridley Scott's Black Hawk Down (2001).
JENNIFER JASON LEIGH, 54
Best Supporting Actress (The Hateful Eight)
- Portraying foul-mouthed criminal Daisy Domergue in The Hateful Eight was a comeback of sorts for the US actress, whose showbiz career began in 1977. She told The Guardian: "I feel like the door was closed, and I had made my peace with it and I was fine." She credits director Quentin Tarantino for letting her remember "who I was as an actress; I just had forgotten".
- She was a no-show at the recent Baftas because, according to The Hollywood Reporter, The Hateful Eight's UK distributors didn't want to cover her travel costs despite Leigh receiving a Best Supporting Actress nomination.
- Leigh also voiced the female lead in Charlie Kaufman's Anomalisa, which is vying for Best Animated Feature Film at this year's Oscars.
MARK RYLANCE, 56
Best Supporting Actor (Bridge Of Spies)
- Next to Charlotte Rampling, this Brit is probably the least familiar to moviegoers in this year's Oscar race. Rylance is primarily a stage actor, and a highly decorated one too.
- He joked to New York Times that starring in Steven Spielberg's Cold War thriller Bridge Of Spies was him "going to Hollywood and selling out". Playing the historical Soviet spy character Rudolf Abel has seen Rylance winning a Bafta on Feb 14.
- He has teamed up with Spielberg again to star in the director's adaptation of Roald Dahl's beloved book The BFG, opening here July 21.
ALICIA VIKANDER, 27
Best Supporting Actress (The Danish Girl)
- Vikander enjoyed a fruitful past year, with four high-profile films that kept her on Hollywood's radar - Ex Machina, The Man From UNC.L.E., Burnt and The Danish Girl - with the last giving her the best reception of her acting career.
- The Swede is considered a newcomer among the others in her category and considers playing Gerda Wegener, the supportive wife of transgender pioneer Lili Elbe (Eddie Redmayne), an "honour". She told Los Angeles Times: "I had looked up to these other actresses for so long. Rooney (Mara) and Rachel (McAdams), I've seen their films; but Kate Winslet, I watched her since I was very, very young... it's just amazing."
- Oscars 2016 looks set to be date night for Vikander, whose boyfriend is Best Actor nominee Michael Fassbender (for Steve Jobs). Both were spotted holding hands at a Golden Globes after-party.
RACHEL MCADAMS, 37
Best Supporting Actress (Spotlight)
- The Canadian actress has gone from rom-com chick to dramatic powerhouse with Spotlight, where she plays Boston Globe reporter Sacha Pfeiffer, part of the news team that uncovered the massive scandal of child molestation and cover-ups within the Boston Catholic Archdiocese.
- On the day the Oscar nominations were announced, McAdams thought there "had been some catastrophic event in the world" because everyone she ever knew texted her. "I was in a deep, deep sleep," she told Boston Globe. "I was half-asleep wondering why my publicist was calling me at 5.45am."
- She wasn't the first name that came to mind to play Pfeiffer. Margot Robbie turned down the role due to exhaustion. Amy Adams and Michelle Williams were both considered before McAdams was cast.
This article was first published on Feb 24, 2016.
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