Posted in: by Sean Axmaker, Contributors, Essays

The Freshman Class: This Year’s Crop of First Time Oscar Nominees

Meet the Freshman Class of the 2013 Academy Awards

The reason we love the Oscars isn’t just the competition. It’s the stories that captivate us, and not just those on the screen.

Every year, a new group of artists get their first Oscar recognition for their screen work — and not just performers, but directors, writers, cinematographers and others. And they all have their stories, from the longtime professional finally getting noticed to the up-and-comer announcing his or her arrival. Just look at the Best Actress race, which this year includes the youngest and oldest nominees ever in the category: force of nature Quvenzhané Wallis (in her screen debut) and French cinema legend Emmanuelle Riva. That they are both first-time nominees only adds to the story.

Here are a few takes from the first-timer files: film professionals getting their first Oscar nomination, stars and relative unknowns alike. Meet the freshman Class of 2012!

Hugh Jackman, up for Best Actor (“Les Misérables”)

“Having hosted the show, I have seen so many different sides of the Oscars, but to be an actual nominee is something I never would have dreamed possible.” — Hugh Jackman

Anne Hathaway wasn’t the only member of the “Les Misérables” cast to dream a dream. While Wolverine, the feral, hirsute, reluctant hero of the “X-Men” movies, made Australian actor Hugh Jackman a Hollywood star, his first love was the stage musical. He made his name as all-American cowboy Curly in the 1998 West End revival of “Oklahoma!” and he leapt from his second “X-Men” film to Broadway (and a Tony Award) for the musical “The Boy From Oz.” The role of Jean Valjean, the tormented hero of “Les Misérables,” was a natural for Jackman, a veteran of both musicals and dark, tortured screen heroes. “Weirdly, this was almost more physical than an “X-Men” movie,” he remarked to Vulture. He starved himself to get that gaunt look in the opening scenes and worked out to keep the muscle on between vocal exercises and rehearsals. A challenge even for Wolverine.

Continue reading at MSN Movies