It seems just about every year a new star is born out of the Academy Awards. Last year it was Jennifer Lawrence. This year it is Lupita Nyong'o. Of course it helps to be young and beautiful, but one can look back and find male actors who emerged from the Academy Awards as full blown stars like Daniel Day-Lewis (My Left Foot), Geoffrey Rush (Shine) and Billy Bob Thornton (Sling Blade). Thornton won for Best Screenplay, although he was nominated for Best Actor.
If you go back even earlier, most persons never heard of Meryl Streep before The Deer Hunter. As the story goes, it was De Niro who had spotted her in a summer theater group and introduced her to Michael Cimino. She was nominated for Best Supporting Actress and won the following year for her supporting role in Kramer vs. Kramer. Since then she has garnered a record 18 nominations, winning three times.
But, this was an unusual year in that Lupita wasn't the only newbie to win. Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto both won for their first ever nominations from the film, Dallas Buyers Club, which really seemed to strike a chord with the Academy. I was rooting for Michael Fassbender, who I think is one of the best actors of his generation, and turned in a mesmerizing performance as a plantation owner in 12 Years a Slave.
For Lupita, the sky now appears to be the limit. She has quite an international upbringing, ranging from Kenya to Mexico to the United States, and is being heralded for her poise and style much like Grace Kelly when she emerged on the international stage. Funny enough, Grace's first big movie was Mogambo, set in Kenya, but she didn't become famous until after her work with Alfred Hitchcock, Dial M for Murder and Rear Window, in 1954.
As for Jennifer Lawrence, last year's darling, she now has major competition, but she seems like a good sport and I wouldn't be surprised if Hollywood tries to pair these two young women in an upcoming movie, as it would be a sure bet at the box office.