Every Oscar season, we see the Academy nominate a handful of actors who are new to the red carpet. Sometimes they go on to spectacular careers, and return to the Oscar stage again. Others choose to make movies like Snow Dogs and Radio (yes, I said it, Cuba Gooding Jr.). So which of the first-time nominees are we likely to see nominated again?
Mickey Rourke, who was a favorite to win for The Wrestler, is having one of those fairy-tale comeback years that only happen once in a lifetime. Did he deserve to win? Absolutely. Will this lead to other big roles? It already has, judging by his full dance card for the next couple of years. Will we see him at the Oscars again? Probably not. As good as Rourke was in this film, the nomination was as much for his comeback as it was for his acting.
Viola Davis, nominated for her supporting role in Doubt, is an accomplished stage actress with a Tony under her belt. Davis, a Julliard graduate, has made some films (she's a favorite of Steven Soderbergh, having appeared in three of his pictures) but this was her first nomination. At 43, she's not exactly a fresh face, but she wouldn't be the first actor to come into her own in late career. However, the sad fact is that there aren't enough juicy roles written for African American women. Will we see her again? Maybe. It depends on how she parlays the nomination into future work.
Josh Brolin has also been around for a while, starting out in 1985 with a role in The Goonies. Now 40, he's had a great couple of years with roles in films as diverse as Grindhouse, No Country for Old Men and W. His nomination for Milk was as much an acknowledgment for his turn as George Bush as it was for his portrayal of high-strung, murderous county commissioner Dan White, and if he weren't up against Heath Ledger, he would have been a sure thing for the award. So will we see him again? Absolutely, unless he takes a seriously wrong career turn.
Taraji P. Henson (The Curious Case of Benjamin Button) is no stranger to awards. She won armfuls of them for her role in 2005's Hustle & Flow. But will she see another Oscar nod in the future? Doubtful, for the same reason that Davis' return is unlikely -- she's talented, but great roles for black women are few and far between.
Richard Jenkins, superb in The Visitor, has been around the block. He started in TV in 1974, and has appeared in over 50 films -- but he's never been considered leading man material. Will we see him again? Probably not. Jenkins is a great character actor, which is nothing to sneeze at, but it doesn't win many awards.
Frank Langella is another actor with a long, successful career. But let's be brutally honest -- he was great as Nixon, but most of us still think of him as Dracula and Skeletor. Will we see him again? Who knows? The last couple of years have seen him tackling less cheesy roles, and experiencing a major career reboot.
Melissa Leo, who first came to attention on the TV series Homicide: Life on the Street after a solid soap-opera career, garnered a classic Best Supporting nod for Frozen River: The heroic, struggling single mother. The Academy loves these kinds of characters, and loves to nominate them for supporting awards. Will we see her again? No. Like Richard Jenkins, she's a character actress, and an excellent one, at that. But this nomination, however deserved, was a fluke.
Michael Shannon, nominated for Revolutionary Road, didn't have a chance in hell of winning, so he'd be wise to leverage his nomination into bigger, better future roles while he can. That said, he's a solid actor with a lot of experience, although he's limited by, frankly, a rather creepy demeanor. Will we see him again? Quite possible, although it'll probably be in another supporting role, maybe as a crazy serial killer or pedophile.
Dawn Taylor learned long ago that the actors who win Oscars aren't the same ones she'd pick, but she's okay with that.