You know the old saying about how it’s an honor just being nominated? It is. An Academy Award nomination is a win no matter the final outcome on Oscar night. For one thing, it guarantees a major boost in profile and an upgrade in the caliber of roles an actor is offered. There’s no way, for example, that any Oscar nominee will accept the sorts of roles you’re about to see below.

No, these movies, shorts, and television shows all came earlier. Before this year’s nominees for Best Actor and Actress made it big, they struggled through tough times. All of us take crappy jobs in our youth; most of us have done stuff we lived to regret. Unfortunately for this year’s Oscar nominees, their early jobs were all recorded by cameras. And then released to theaters or on television. And then uploaded to YouTube. And finally embedded in this post. Such is life. In the grand scope of things, they are all still winners.

Best Actor Nominees

Casey Affleck
The Kennedys of Massachusetts

I couldn’t find a clip of Affleck giving the Rookie of the Year from Rookie of the Year the secret sex guide from the original American Pie, so check out this clip of one of Affleck’s very first roles, as a young Robert Kennedy in the TV miniseries The Kennedys of Massachusetts.


Andrew Garfield
“Mumbo Jumbo”

Before Andrew Garfield was an Oscar nominee or even Spider-Man, he appeared in a short film called “Mumbo Jumbo.” We will let his performance speak for itself.


Ryan Gosling
The All-New Mickey Mouse Club

Ryan Gosling’s credentials as a song and dance man predate La La Land by several decades. Yes, Gosling was once a member of the prestigious Mickey Mouse Club, during one iteration where it morphed into a sort of boy band on television. His singing-while-waving-his-hand work in this number is unparalleled. You’re definitely going to want to make a GIF of it.


Viggo Mortensen
High School Narc

Viggo Mortensen. Actor. Activist. Renaissance man. Leader of Middle-earth. And, once upon a time, guy who played the oldest teenager in history in the after-school special High School Narc. This is possibly the worst “I’m sleeping! Just kidding, I’m totes awake!” acting I have ever seen.


Denzel Washington
Carbon Copy

I haven’t seen this movie, but I do not know how to process this trailer. It seems like it came from an alternate plane of reality.


Best Actress Nominees

Ruth Negga
“3-Minute 4-Play”

The way the guy talks to the Negga character makes me 2-uncomfortable.


Natalie Portman
Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace

Natalie Portman was a great actor before she made Star Wars. And she’s been a consistently great actor since Star Wars. But she was not a great actor during Star Wars.


Emma Stone
In Search of the New Partridge Family

Like her La La Land co-star, Emma Stone has her own history of singing on the revival of an iconic TV series. This reality competition show was supposed to lead to the creation of a new version of The Partridge Family, but it never made it past the pilot stage. Here’s to the ones who dream of a new kookily colored bus.


Meryl Streep
Alice at the Palace

Meryl Streep was already an Oscar winner by the time she appeared in this 1981 Off-Broadway version of Alice in Wonderland. This surely made more sense in context. (Then again, after looking at more of this show on Buzzfeed, maybe not.)


Isabelle Huppert doesn’t seem to have any skeletons in her closet (at least not on YouTube). She was on Law & Order: SVU once, but our staff SVU expert, Erin Whitney, says it was a good performance in a solid episode. Damn you, Huppert! You’re just too perfect.