A few of them (Leonardo DiCaprio, Meryl Streep) embraced instant fame upon their screen debuts, while others (Judi Dench, Chiwetel Ejiofor) broke through after years of hard work. But all of them were once fledgling stars whose appearances at movie premieres and award shows didn't elicit the mania it does now. We've combed through vintage photos of from the early red-carpet days of this year's Oscar honorees. Some of the glamour shots come from their debut movies, but all of them are within the first few years of their respective careers. Ahead of the 86th annual Academy Awards, take a gander at these old-school red-carpet captures, along with some details about the movie each actor or actress was promoting around the time the photo was snapped.
(Best Actor, "American Hustle")
Year: 1987 (age 13)
Movie: "Empire of the Sun" (directed by Steven Spielberg, written by Tom Stoppard)
IMDB plot description: A young English boy struggles to survive under Japanese occupation during World War II.
Sample review: "Mr. Bale ... at first seems just a handsome and malleable young performer, another charming child star. But the epic street scene that details the Japanese invasion of the city and separates Jim from his parents reveals this boy to be something more. As Mr. Bale, standing atop a car amid thousands of extras and clasping his hands to his head, registers the fact that Jim is suddenly alone, he conveys the schoolboy's real terror and takes the film to a different dramatic plane. This fine young actor, who appears in virtually every frame of the film and ages convincingly from about 9 to 13 during the course of the story, is eminently able to handle an ambitious and demanding role." -- Janet Maslin, The New York Times
(Best Actor, "Nebraska")
Year: 1975 (age 39)
Movie: "Posse" (directed by Kirk Douglas, written by Christopher Knopf and William Roberts)
IMDB plot description: A tough U.S. marshal with political ambitions leads an elite posse to capture a notorious criminal. He succeeds, but instead of cheering him, the public turns against him.
Sample review: "Mr. Douglas and Mr. Dern have a high old time of it, shooting it out on horseback, foot and, once, on a hijacked train. Mr. Douglas's talents as a director have clearly improved since his maiden effort, last year's 'Scalawag,' but then the screenplay (by William Roberts and Christopher Knopf) is also much better. This is Saturday afternoon entertainment that needn't be ignored at night." -- Vincent Canby, The New York Times
(Best Actor, "The Wolf of Wall Street")
Year: 1993 (age 19)
Movie: "This Boy's Life" (directed by Michael Caton-Jones, written by Robert Getchell)
IMDB plot description: The story about the relationship between a rebellious '50s teenager and his abusive father, based on the memoirs of writer and literature professor Tobias Wolff.
Sample review: "Toby is played by Leonardo DiCaprio, a relative newcomer (he's done TV, and had the lead in "Critters III"). The movie is successful largely because he is a good enough actor to hold his own in his scenes with De Niro, so that the movie remains his story, and isn't upstaged by the loathsome but colorful Dwight." -- Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times
(Best Actor, "12 Years a Slave")
Year: 2002 (age 25)
Movie: "Dirty Pretty Things" (directed by Stephen Frears, written by Steven Knight)
IMDB plot description: An illegal Nigerian immigrant discovers the unfortunate side of life in London.
Sample review: "Okwe is played by Chiwetel Ejiofor, a brilliant British actor of Nigerian extraction who never shows off. I hate to think of an actor with an ego playing the hard-working, loyal, brave and moral Okwe; he'd make it an ordeal of virtue. Ejiofor's Okwe is too busy hustling to pose against the sunset or sigh melodramatically with self-pity." -- Stephen Hunter, The Washington Post
(Best Actor, "Dallas Buyers Club")
Year: 1993 (age 24)
Movie: "Dazed and Confused" (written and directed by Richard Linklater)
IMDB plot description: The adventures of high school and junior high students on the last day of school in May of 1976.
Sample review: "In the exhilarating 'Dazed and Confused,' 31- year-old director Richard Linklater delivers what may be the most slyly funny and dead-on portrait of American teenage life ever made." -- Owen Gleiberman, Entertainment Weekly
(Best Actress, "American Hustle")
Year: 1999 (age 25)
Movie: "Drop Dead Gorgeous" (directed by Michael Patrick Jann, written by Lona Williams)
IMDB plot description: A small town beauty pageant turns deadly as it becomes clear that one contestant will go to any lengths to win.
Sample review: "Anyone who's cringed at the phony pieties of beauty pageants or wondered what the contestants really are thinking behind those glossy, vacuous smiles will get a taste of sweet revenge from this deft skewering of a bogus institution. 'Gorgeous' has claws, and manages to stick them in all the right places." -- Edward Guthmann, San Francisco Chronicle
(Best Actress, "Blue Jasmine")
Year: 1997 (age 28)
Movie: "Oscar and Lucinda" (directed by Gillian Armstrong, written by Laura Jones)
IMDB plot description: Oscar and Lucinda meet on a ship going to Australia; once there, they are for different reasons ostracized from society, and as a result join forces together.
Sample review: "In a role that Judy Davis was born to play (and that was in fact intended for her years back), luminous newcomer Blanchett also excels as the fiery, self-reliant female industrialist who lives by her own norms, defying society’s prohibitive definition of a 'woman’s place.'" -- Emanuel Levy, Variety
(Best Actress, "Gravity")
Year: 1993 (age 29)
Movie: "Wrestling Ernest Hemingway" (directed by Randa Haines, written by Steve Conrad)
IMDB plot description: Two lonely, retired septuagenarians, an unkempt, hard-drinking Irish sea captain, and a fussy, well-mannered Cuban barber form an uneasy friendship.
Sample review: "[The picture] clearly favors the men, with the three women playing sketchy roles that serve primarily as plot functions. Still, [Shirley] MacLaine as the lonely but sensitive motel manager, [Piper] Laurie as the coquettishly proud lady and Bullock as the sweet waitress acquit themselves with modest, unassuming performances." -- Emanuel Levy, Variety
(Best Actress, "Philomena")
Year: 1966 (age 32)
Movie: "A Study in Terror" (directed by James Hill, written by Daniel Ford)
IMDB plot description: Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson join the hunt for the notorious serial killer, Jack The Ripper.
Sample review: "An assortment of Southwestern landscapes, the variety of which has seldom been so profligately provided for a horse-and-hero opera, is indeed a major feature of excitement in this stalk-'em-and-chase-'em film, wherein the actors need landscape for their cut-ups the same as football players need a football field." -- Bosley Crowther, The New York Times
(Best Actress, "August: Osage County")
Year: 1979 (age 30)
Movie: "Manhattan" (directed by Woody Allen, written by Woody Allen and Marshall Brickman)
IMDB plot description: A divorced New Yorker currently dating a high-schooler brings himself to look for love in the mistress of his best friend instead.
Sample review: "All the characters, save the sublimely innocent Tracy, are in analysis and/or working on a book—most provocatively, Isaac's second ex-wife (a scary Meryl Streep), who has written a hostile memoir of their marriage. With this character, Allen acknowledges the Other." -- J. Hoberman, The Village Voice
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this post flip-flopped which movies DiCaprio and McConaughey are nominated for.
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