Where did it all begin for the 2014 Oscar Nominees?

Wolf of Wall Street Plymouth Arts Centre

Jemima Laing casts her eye over this year’s Oscar nominations ahead of the ceremony on March 2.

Odds are I don’t look at the Oscar nominations in the same way as you.

Because I write regularly about the ups and downs of being the mother of a child who acts, and having acted as a child too, I’m always keen to see which Oscar nominees started their careers as mere minnows before successfully navigating the risky waters of the juvenile-to-adult-actor swim upstream.

So who in this year’s line-up has made the perilous passage from ingénue to silver screen heavyweight?

Christian Bale, nominated for American Hustle, (showing at Plymouth Arts Centre from 21-27 February) earned his acting spurs as a child appearing in adverts and on stage from the tender age of eight. But it was at 13 that he came to real prominence in Spielberg’s film of JG Ballard’s Empire of the Sun, delivering a performance still talked of as a benchmark for young actors. So will he take home a second statuette at the Oscar ceremony on 2 March – making a brace along with the one he won for his supporting role in The Fighter?

Or will he be pipped to the post by Leonardo DiCaprio – who also started out in ads as a nipper on the other side of the pond? I still rate his portrayal of Arnie in What’s Eating Gilbert Grape when he was a teenager – and which garnered the first of his four acting Oscar nominations – as one of his finest appearances on screen. He has doubled his chances of turning his nomination into a win for the first time by dint of being in the running as both the lead actor in, and producer of, the Wolf of Wall Street – which is showing from 14-20 February.

And I can’t be the only one disappointed Oscar Isaac’s melancholy turn as the Coen Brothers’ titular Llewyn Davis (showing from 21-27 February) didn’t make the cut – and not just because it’s denied us the chance to see an actual Oscar win an Oscar.

But the buzz is that it will be Matthew McConaughey (first IMDB credit at the relatively ancient age of 24 ) who will take home the prize for Dallas Buyers Club (showing 28 February-6 March) a fitting reward for his career turnaround, nattily dubbed by Digital Spy as his McConaissance.

Among the female nominees Jennifer Lawrence – aiming to get her hands on the second Academy Award of her short but stellar career for her part in American Hustle – is the only one who didn’t wait until her 20s to commit her debut appearance to celluloid. Starting out on US television at 17 her breakthrough performance came as Ree in Winter’s Bone when she was barely 19.

Meryl Streep and Julia Roberts are both in the running for their work in August: Osage County (showing from 14-20 February) but it’s worth mentioning they share the screen with non-nominee Juliette Lewis, who herself turned in a memorable minor performance as the thumb-sucking, scene-stealing Danielle in Scorsese’s 1993 remake of Cape Fear.



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