By Ryan Smythe

Awards shows are great times for the not-totally-plugged-in viewing audience to fall in love with new faces. The PR boost these actors and actresses receive by dressing up and strutting down the red carpet has the chance to send their careers to new heights, but it would be a shame to overlook the body of work they put together before voters finally (finally…finally) started paying attention.

Mahershala Ali

The eyes of the media-consuming world turned towards Mahershala Ali after Moonlight kicked in the doors and emerged as a potential Oscars heavyweight, but his 2016 acting campaign was filled with success after success: He played a strong supporting role as Colonel Jim Johnson in the fantastic Hidden Figures and stole a good portion of the show Luke Cage for his portrayal of Cornell “Cottonmouth” Stokes. Whether or not he goes home with some hardware for his spectacular work in Moonlight, he’s already starting out 2017 with some great news after his wife, Amatus Sami-Karim, gave birth to their first child on Wednesday, Feb. 22.

Ruth Negga

These new Oscar nominees help tell some heart-wrenching and dramatic stories, and Ruth Negga’s portrayal of Mildred “Bean” Jeter in Loving is no exception. Much like Ali, she made a splash in 2016 as a leading cast member in a new comic book adaption for the small screen as Tulip O'Hare in Preacher. Unlike Ali, she made her mark on the same side as the protagonist, and with the second season scheduled to come out later this year, now’s the perfect time to catch up on season one.

Andrew Garfield

This Oscar nomination should help Andrew Garfield free himself from the, “Wait, which Spider-Man was he?” conversation that will continue for as long as Sony and Marvel keep pumping out new movies. While his character in Hacksaw Ridge, Desmond T. Doss, refuses to kill anyone, his character from The Social Network, Eduardo Saverin, definitely had murder in his eyes after Jesse Eisenberg/Mark Zuckerberg screwed him out of Facebook.

Naomie Harris

Even though La La Land has secured top billing in almost every presumptive Oscar winner list since it danced its way into audiences’ hearts across the world, Moonlight is more than making a name for itself with the sheer number of high-level nominations. Naomie Harris’ marvelous performance as Paula may be her introduction to critical acclaim, but her portrayal of Tia Dalma/Calypso in the Pirates Of The Caribbean series added a level of otherworldly power that Jack Sparrow couldn’t on his own.

Justin Timberlake

It’s nice to see Justin Timberlake finally achieve some success after years struggling as a musician. It took the incredible cinematic masterpiece Trolls to kick start his career and push him into the public consciousness with “CAN'T STOP THE FEELING!” If his lucky streak continues, he may find his way into more record shops and soundtrack lists. Who knows, maybe writing songs in all caps could be the next big thing.