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The freshman class

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Nominees competing for their first Academy Award this yearBy Sean AxmakerSpecial to MSN MoviesThe reason we love the Oscars isn't just the competition. It's the stories that captivate us, and not just those on the screen.Every year, a new group of artists get their first Oscar recognition for their screen work -- and not just performers, but directors, writers, cinematographers and others. And they all have their stories, from the longtime professional finally getting noticed to the up-and-comer announcing his or her arrival. Just look at the Best Actress race, which this year includes the youngest and oldest nominees ever in the category: force of nature Quvenzhané Wallis (in her screen debut) and French cinema legend Emmanuelle Riva. That they are both first-time nominees only adds to the story. Bing: More about the Academy Awards | Related: Movies that should have won an Academy AwardHere are a few takes from the first-timer files: film professionals getting their first Oscar nomination, stars and relative unknowns alike.Meet the freshman Class of 2012!Which first-time Oscar-nominated actor are you rooting for to win? Tell us on our MSN Movies Facebook and Twitter pages.(Universal Pictures/FOX Searchlight Pictures/Sony Pictures Classics)
© Universal Pictures/FOX Searchlight Pictures/Sony Pictures Classics
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