By Anjelica Oswald
The transition from television star to cinematic award-winner is often difficult. Where actors in feature films tend to be regarded as prestigious, the actors you catch on a television show every week become almost like friends and are more relatable. This personal appeal can hinder prospective Oscar chances, as TV actors are denigrated as being less-than qualified for the statues than their featured peers.
Some 21st century exceptions to the rule include George Clooney, who rose to fame as Dr. Doug Ross on NBC’s ER, is now a two-time Oscar winner, one for his supporting role in 2005’s Syriana and the other for best picture for 2012’s Argo; Jennifer Lawrence, who starred as the oldest daughter on The Bill Engvall Show before it ended in 2009, is now a three-time Oscar nominee, winning once for her lead role in 2012’s Silver Linings Playbook; Melissa Leo, whose breakout role was as detective Kay Howard in Homicide: Life on the Street, won an Oscar for 2010’s The Fighter; Judi Dench, whose first starring film role as Queen Victoria in 1997’s Mrs. Brown earned her the first of seven Oscar nominations, one of which she won for 1998’s Shakespeare in Love; Will Smith, who was well-known for The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, has been nominated for two Oscars; Jamie Foxx, whose own show The Jamie Foxx Show ran for five years, won an Oscar for 2004’s Ray; Ryan Gosling, who was part of Disney’s The All-New Mickey Mouse Club, was nominated for 2006’s Half Nelson; and James Franco, whose breakout role was in Freaks and Geeks, received an Oscar nomination for 2010’s 127 Hours.
Though it can be more difficult for actors who start on television to gain the Academy’s seal of approval, a number of contenders for the upcoming Academy Awards may join the group of exceptions.
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