Before the white-hot glare of movie stardom often comes the slow simmer of TV. And, like Bruce Willis ("Moonlighting") and Clint Eastwood ("Rawhide"), many of tonight's Oscar nominees also cut their teeth on the tube:
Joaquin Phoenix ("The Master"). Then known as Leaf Phoenix, he played Doug Roberts, one of several orphans living alongside seniors in a retirement home in the 1986 CBS drama "Morningstar/ Eveningstar."
Jennifer Lawrence ("Silver Linings Playbook"). In the 2007-09 TBS sitcom "The Bill Engvall Show," she played Lauren Pearson, teenage daughter of a family counselor (Engvall) and his wife (Nancy Travis).
Amy Adams ("The Master"). In the 2004 CBS drama "Dr. Vegas," starring Rob Lowe and Joe Pantoliano, she played Alice Doherty until being let go in a contract dispute.
Sally Field ("Lincoln").After "Gidget" (ABC 1965-66) and "The Flying Nun" (ABC 1967-70), she starred with John Davidson as a wife who could read minds in "The Girl with Something Extra" (NBC 1973-74).
Anne Hathaway ("Les Misérables"). Still in high school, she played the sister of Eric Christian Olsen and Jesse Eisenberg in Fox's 1999-2000 family comedy-drama "Get Real."
Helen Hunt ("The Sessions"). Everyone knows her from "Mad About You," but a year earlier, she co-starred as a wife in 2035 whose retired-journalist husband reflects on "My Life and Times" (ABC, 1991).
Ben Affleck Although he's not nominated in an acting or directing role, his "Argo" is the best picture front-runner. He co-starred in NBC's 1993 "Against the Grain," the first attempt at a TV series based on "Friday Night Lights."