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Will Lupita Nyongo and Barkhad Abdi join 15 Oscar winners for film debuts?

By Daniel Montgomery
By Daniel Montgomery
Jan 24 2014 12:15 pm
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oscars lupita nyong'o 12 years a slave barkhad abdi captain phillips

Both Lupita Nyongo ("12 Years a Slave") and Barkhad Abdi ("Captain Phillips") have earned Oscar nominations for their feature film debuts, making this the first time in 17 years that two actors have done so. The last time was Edward Norton ("Primal Fear") and Emily Watson ("Breaking the Waves") in 1996; if their careers are any indication, Nyongo and Abdi have a lot to look forward to regardless of the Oscar results.

Since winning at Critics' Choice and the SAG Awards, Nyongo has dramatically widened her lead in the Best Supporting Actress race over Golden Globe champ Jennifer Lawrence ("American Hustle"). Indeed, Supporting Actress has crowned more debuts that any other category; Nyongo would be the ninth, following:

Gale Sondergaard ("Anthony Adverse," 1936)
Katina Paxinou ("For Whom the Bell Tolls," 1943)
Mercedes McCambridge ("All the King's Men," 1949)
Eva Marie Saint ("On the Waterfront," 1954)
Jo Van Fleet ("East of Eden," 1955)
Tatum O'Neal ("Paper Moon," 1973)
Anna Paquin ("The Piano," 1993)
Jennifer Hudson ("Dreamgirls," 2006)

Another four women won lead Oscars for their film debuts:

Shirley Booth ("Come Back, Little Sheba," 1952)
Julie Andrews ("Mary Poppins," 1964)
Barbra Streisand ("Funny Girl," 1968)
Marlee Matlin ("Children of a Lesser God," 1986)

Unfortunately for Abdi, Oscar isn't nearly as fond of male newcomers. If he can overcome his steep 50/1 odds to win Best Supporting Actor, he will join only three other fellows who won for their screen debuts, all of them also in the supporting category:

Harold Russell ("The Best Years of Our Lives," 1946)
Timothy Hutton ("Ordinary People," 1980)
Haing S. Ngor ("The Killing Fields," 1984)

Make your Supporting Actress predictions below:

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