For an actor, there are a few great honors that, when achieved, really scream you’ve made it!!! That first big paycheck, sitting on a late-night talk show couch, getting a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame—all legit signs that everything you did to chase your big dream (the rejections, the side hustles, the cringe-y sponcon) was all actually worth it. But, TBH, none of that matters as much as that shiny, gold Academy Award, okay!! The most coveted prize in town = instant superstardom.
…Of course, actually having one of those fancy awards doesn’t, ahem, mean that every picture starring a newly minted Academy Award-winner is destined to be an ageless classic. Which, fine. I’d still watch their entire IMDBs, any day. And since you’ve prob already streamed every 2021 contender, let’s go ahead dive into a few flicks that you may have forgotten star an Oscar winner or two.
Lady Gaga in ‘Machete Kills’
Before Lady Gaga literally shattered us in A Star is Born (for which she earned an Oscar for Best Original Song, tyvm!!), and even before she grabbed a Golden Globe award for her turn as The Countess in American Horror Story: Hotel, Gaga lent her big-screen talents to the super wacky exploitation film Machete Kills–which also starred, get this, Mel Gibson, Sofia Vergara, Charlie Sheen, Amber Heard, Cuba Gooding Jr., and Vanessa Hudgens to name a few. A FEW.
Emma Stone in ‘The Rocker’
Before winning her Academy Award for Best Actress in La La Land, the beloved redhead starred in a string of cult classic comedies, including Superbad, The House Bunny, and Easy A. But during that time, Stone also starred in the silly flick, The Rocker, about a washed-up drummer (Rainn “Dwight from The Office” Wilson) who attempts to make a comeback by joining his nephew’s high school garage band.
Matthew McConaughey in ‘Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation’
A bunch of A-list stars get their start in scary movies, but few horror franchises are as *iconic* as The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, which has seen the likes of Oscar-winners Renee Zellweger (Best Supporting Actress, Cold Mountain & Best Actress, Judy) and Matthew McConaughey (Best Actor, Dallas Buyers Club) get bloody in good ‘ole Texas.
Jennifer Lawrence in ‘House at the End of the Street’
Right around the time J-Law first became a household name (hi, Hunger Games, heard of it??), she also starred in the little-known psychological thriller House at the End of the Street. Interestingly enough, the spooky flick was actually shot several years prior to its release, but the studio held onto the film, only to release it during the rise of J-Law mania to capitalize on the newly crowned starlet. Ah, showbiz. Anyways, a year later, she took home the Oscar for Best Actress in Silver Linings Playbook.
Jared Leto in ‘Chapter 27’
Before he became an Academy Award-winning actor for his role in Dallas Buyers Club or wreaked havoc as Joker, Leto portrayed David Chapman, the man who murdered John Lennon. The indie flick debuted at the Sundance Film Festival in 2007 and also starred Lindsay(!) Lohan(!).
Sandra Bullock in ‘All About Steve’
2009 was quite the year for the Ms. Congeniality star. Sandra Bullock starred in the hit comedy The Proposal as well as The Blind Side, for which she earned an Academy Award for Best Actress. Aaaaand she also starred in the mostly-forgotten comedy All About Steve alongside Bradley Cooper and Thomas Haden Church. The film was so poorly received that she even earned a Razzie Award for Worst Actress. But being the unbothered queen that she is, she went on stage and accepted the award, so there!
Julianne Moore in ‘Carrie’
There have been so many Stephen King adaptations in recent years, but few match the iconic levels of the original 1976 Carrie. Now, what we’re talking about here is the 2013 remake starring Chloë Grace Moretz. But still. They had Still Alice Oscar-winner Julianne Moore portray the deeply religious mother, and she stole the show! So at least they tried!
Tilda Swinton in ‘Trainwreck’
Remember Amy Schumer’s wickedly rude boss in Trainwreck? Yeah, the harsh magazine editor who threw brutal one-liners. Well, that role was actually portrayed by none other than Academy Award winner Tilda Swinton. You know her from The Chronicles of Narnia, We Need to Talk About Kevin, and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, and her Oscar-winning turn in Michael Clayton. And from being The Best.
Anthony Hopkins in ‘The Rite’
Sir Anthony Hopkins’ iconic role as Hannibal Lector in The Silence of the Lambs earned the British native an Academy Award for Best Actor, and rightfully so! But many people might be surprised to learn that Hopkins returned to the genre to provide more spine-chilling action in the 2009 exorcism flick The Rite. However, the film only managed to gross $30 million in the U.S. against a $37 million budget (yikes!), so makes sense if you don’t recall this one.
Nicole Kidman in ‘The Invasion’
In the early 2000s, Kidman hit a double whammy with two back-to-back Oscar nominations, actually winning the honor in 2003 for The Hours. Then she took a starring role, alongside Daniel Craig, in the sci-fi thriller The Invasion, which, um, didn’t fare so well at the box office. Relax, she’s doing just fine.
Colin Firth in ‘What a Girl Wants’
Even though Colin Firth struck Oscar gold for his leading role in The King’s Speech in 2011, it wasn’t the English actor’s first time playing a distinguished leader. He portrayed a U.K. Prime Minister (and father to Amanda Bynes) in your fave early-aughts comedy, What a Girl Wants.
Julia Roberts in ‘Mother’s Day’
Following the steps of Valentine’s Day and New Year’s Eve, Mother’s Day tangled a series of star-studded short stories centered around a single “holiday” into one film. But, TBH, we’re not sure we want to remember the wig that Julia Roberts wore in Mother’s Day, alongside Jennifer Aniston and Kate Hudson. No, seriously, the wig is so iconic that there have been stories reported on it. But it’s okay, Juls, let that Oscar for Erin Brockovich serve as a reminder that we still love you.
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