The winners of this year’s seven top talent categories — four performance, two writing and direction — were dominated by first-time nominees. A record-tying six of this hallowed circle were tyro candidates, with “Fargo’s” Frances McDormand the sole spoiler, having received a supporting actress nod for “Mississippi Burning” in 1989.
Though the Academy has increasingly rewarded relatively new talents or artists receiving their first international acclaim, the historical aftermath has varied significantly decade by decade for a half-century. In 1955, all four acting winners were freshmen — Ernest Borgnine in “Marty,” Anna Magnani of “The Rose Tattoo,” “Mister Rob-erts’ ” Jack Lemmon and Jo Van Fleet of “East of Eden.” All continued with successful film careers, Lemmon re-ceiving the AFI Life Achievement prize.
More recently, in 1990’s class, first-time-lucky winners Jeremy Irons and Kathy Bates still seemed slightly outside the studio walls. Writing winners Bruce Joel Rubin of “Ghost” and Michael Blake of “Dances With Wolves” haven’t capitalized on the honor with a stream of formerly unproduced projects given green lights, and Kevin Costner, prized for “Wolves’ ” direction, has yet to take a second shot behind the lens.