The day of reckoning is fast approaching for this year's batch of Oscar hopefuls, and we at TV.com are certainly looking forward to one of television's biggest yearly events. Though the Academy Awards exist to honor the year's most admirable achievements in film, we all know that many movie stars have roots planted firmly in the fertile ground of TV. This year, several nominees have notable TV roles in their past or present careers. Let's take a moment to brush up on the accomplishments of these stars and wish them good luck on their big day! Please let us know whom you support, and be sure to tune in to ABC on Sunday, March 5, at 8:00 p.m. ET. Visit the Oscars' Web site for the full list of presenters and nominees.
Felicity Huffman, up for Best Lead Actress in Transamerica, is also a shining star on ABC's hit dramedy Desperate Housewives. Her flawless portrayal of flustered career mom Lynette Scavo earned her an Emmy award, and we suspect her turn as pre-op transsexual Bree Osbourne may earn her one more trophy for her mantel. Huffman also starred in TV's Out of Order and Sports Night; had a recurring role on Frasier; and made guest appearances on many other shows.
Judy Dench--nominated for Best Lead Actress for her role in Mrs. Henderson Presents--starred in British series A Fine Romance and Love in a Cold Climate. She also gave voice to Miss Lilly, a furry little ballet teacher, in the animated kids' show Angelina Ballerina. But Dench's most famous and possibly most beloved television role was that of Jean Pargeter in As Time Goes By, a show about once-young lovers who are sweetly reunited after 38 years apart.
Charlize Theron will appear as both a presenter and a nominee this year. The glamorous star is up for Best Lead Actress for her role in North Country, but Theron spent much of the last several months gracing our TV screens in the final season of Arrested Development. She joined the brilliant comedy as a beautiful but mysterious Brit named Rita, who emerges as Michael's love interest before a few major secrets about her character are revealed.
George Clooney, nominated for Best Supporting Actor in Syriana, has an unforgettable TV history. Clooney showcased his talent and good looks in many a series--including The Facts of Life and Sisters--but his most famous role by far was that of Dr. Doug Ross on seminal hit ER. The suave and handsome doctor was a favorite with viewers, but Clooney eventually left the show to concentrate on a blossoming film career. In an interesting coincidence, Clooney also starred in E/R, a short-lived comedy from the early 1980s that has no relation to the later series.
Michelle Williams, up for Best Supporting Actress in Brokeback Mountain, first reached notoriety through her role in WB teen drama Dawson's Creek. She played Jen Lindley, a troubled teen who acts as a catalyst for change when she arrives in a new town. Williams has also made guest appearances in several shows, including Baywatch, Home Improvement, Step by Step, and more.
Several more members of this year's Oscar crowd have TV pasts that might surprise you. If you've never heard of these shows, look them up on TV.com--and if you have, please help us by submitting some info! Here are a few interesting tidbits: Terrence Howard, up for Best Lead Actor in Hustle & Flow, appeared in Sparks, Street Time, and Tall Hopes. Heath Ledger, up for Best Lead Actor in Brokeback Mountain, appeared in Roar and Ship to Shore. David Strathairn, up for Best Lead Actor in Good Night, and Good Luck, appeared in Big Apple and The Days and Nights of Molly Dodd. Paul Giamatti, up for Best Supporting Actor in Cinderella Man, starred in Jerry Coleman. And Frances McDormand, up for Best Supporting Actress in North Country, appeared in Leg Work and State of Grace.
Many of those chosen as presenters for this year's Academy Awards have also taken part in the glorious tradition that is TV acting. Let's hope they use their formidable talents to make those introductions as funny, dramatic, and compelling as the shows they appeared on!
Jennifer Aniston, as we all know, made herself a permanent fixture in TV history with her portrayal of the lovable Rachel Green in '90s staple Friends. Some lesser-known shows she's starred in include Molloy, Muddling Through, The Edge, and the TV adaptation of Ferris Beuller's Day Off. Aniston has also made guest appearances in shows like Herman's Head, King of the Hill, Ellen, and more.
Jessica Alba, the lovely star of movies like Honey, Sin City, and Fantastic Four, also starred in the TV series Dark Angel. As genetically enhanced human prototype Max, she was a dangerous human weapon trying to find her place in the world and avoid those who would exploit her powers. Alba has also appeared in Flipper, Beverly Hills, 90210, and other series.
Steve Carell is well known for his roles in "frat pack" comedies like Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy and The 40 Year Old Virgin. His many dabblings in the world of TV eventually led to his current role in the American version of The Office. His amazing talent for self-deprecating comedy is perfectly showcased by his portrayal of regional manager Michael Scott, an irritating boss who tries way too hard to befriend his employees.
Will Ferrell, also a veteran of Anchorman, has been an indispensable fixture on Saturday Night Live for years. He has also appeared on shows like Living Single, Family Guy, Undeclared, and Cow and Chicken. In addition to his SNL duties, he recently gave voice to optimistic blob Bob Oblong on The WB's The Oblongs.
Queen Latifah, rapper and actress extraordinaire, hit TV in a big way with the early '90s sitcom Living Single. The show featured a very talented ensemble cast, but there was no question about who was the star. Queen Latifah has also appeared on shows like Spin City, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, and Eve, to name just a few.
Will Smith, of course, was the streetwise star of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air--which Queen Latifah visited twice as a possible love interest for his character. Smith, in addition to countless other appearances, took the role of Pinocchio on HBO's Happily Ever After: Fairy Tales for Every Child.
Other presenters with a glowing TV screen lurking in their closets include Clint Eastwood, who starred on Rawhide; Morgan Freeman, who starred on Another World, Ryan's Hope, and The Electric Company; Hilary Swank, who appeared in Beverly Hills, 90210 and other shows; and Tom Hanks, who starred in Bosom Buddies and made many other TV appearances.
Of course, no awards ceremony would be complete without one very important person--the host. This year, multiple Emmy winner Jon Stewart will do the honors, and we expect that he'll do them quite well. In the early 1990s, Stewart became popular when his MTV talk series, The Jon Stewart Show, went into national syndication and garnered much critical acclaim. The gifted comic has hosted Comedy Central's The Daily Show since 1999, and in doing so has boosted the show's ratings, the network's popularity, and his own career. His wry humor is sure to complete the evening in style.
So now that you've got the lowdown on the nominees and presenters, it's time to talk! Which nominees are you rooting for? Who should have been nominated but wasn't? Do you see anyone on the list you think shouldn't be there? And which presenters do you think will be able to read the teleprompter without difficulty? There's so much to discuss--better get started!
Remember, the 78th Annual Academy Awards air on ABC on Sunday, March 5, at 8:00 p.m. ET. Be there!