Mary J. Blige In ‘Mudbound’
Mary J. Blige became the first person to receive both acting and song nominations at the Oscars for the movie “Mudbound”. Though she didn’t take home either award, Blige’s nominations cement her status as one singer who can definitely act.
Lady Gaga In ‘A Star Is Born’
Keeping the trend going after Mary J. Blige, Lady Gaga became only the second person to land an acting nomination and Best Song nomination at the Oscars. Now a two-time Oscar nominee for “A Star Is Born”, she’s definitely come a long way from her 2001 acting debut in an episode of “The Sopranos” where she played an uncredited role as Girl At Swimming Pool #2.
Keira Knightley In ‘Begin Again’
In 2013’s “Begin Again”, Keira Knightley effortlessly played a singer-songwriter, shining in the film’s ballad “Lost Stars” where her flighty and raw vocals make the song soar. It’s a moment where not being a polished and professional singer really helps sell the sweet story and totally sells Knightley as a songwriter.
Cher In ‘Chastity’
When you think of Cher’s acting resume – her Oscar-winning turn in “Moonstruck”, roles in “Silkwood”, “Mask”, “Mermaids” and “Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again!” – “Chastity” doesn’t exactly come to mind, but every singer has to start somewhere.
A vanity project by her then-husband Sonny Bono, Cher proved she not only has the pipes but the acting chops to be adept at both comedy and drama.
Matt Damon In ‘The Talented Mr. Ripley’
Matt Damon’s Tom Ripley delivers a tender jazz club serenade of “My Funny Valentine” to showcase his feelings for playboy Dickie Greenleaf (Jude Law) in 1999’s “The Talented Mr. Ripley”. It’s achingly beautiful with a hint of his escalating deadly obsession.
Janet Jackson In ‘Poetic Justice’
With her sizzling on screen chemistry with Tupac Shakur, Janet Jackson nails her film debut in “Poetic Justice”. Already a staple on TV comedies like “Good Times” and “Diff’rent Strokes”, Jackson does the young poet Justice, well, justice, delivering a well-rounded character and performance. And just in case anyone forgot she could also sing, Jackson nabbed a Best Song Oscar nomination for “Again” from the movie.
Colin Farrell In ‘Crazy Heart’
His co-star Jeff Bridges may have gotten all the attention (and an Oscar) and gone on to release an album of his own, but it’s Colin Farrell’s emotional delivery of the film’s Oscar-winning country ballad “The Weary Kind” that steals the show. The real crime here is that his version was never included on the film’s soundtrack.
Carey Mulligan In ‘Shame’
Before she caught the eye of Llewyn Davis with her soulful folk tunes in “Inside Llewyn Davis”, Carey Mulligan played Sissy, a needy lounge singer and sister to Michael Fassbender’s sex addict in “Shame”. She gets to showcase her vocal talents in a slow and haunting cabaret performance of “New York, New York” in Steve McQueen’s film that is both unnerving and vulnerable.
Mark Wahlberg In ‘Renaissance Man’
Before he became two-time Academy Award nominee Mark Wahlberg, he was Marky Mark, underwear model and member of The Funky Bunch, best known for being frequently shirtless.
Making his big screen debut in the 1994 Danny DeVito comedy “Renaissance Man”, Wahlberg was mostly on screen to provide some abs and march in line, but he delivered. Just a year later, he’d start showing some real promise with his role in “The Basketball Diaries”, followed by his star-making acting turn in “Boogie Nights”.
Diana Ross In ‘Lady Sings The Blues’
Perhaps one of the best acting debuts by a musician, Diana Ross delivers a knockout performance in the tragic tale of Billie Holiday. Though Ross earned an Oscar nomination for the role, she only ventured back to the big screen two more times in “Mahogany” and “The Wiz”.
Brie Larson In ‘Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World’
Brie Larson is an indie rock goddess in the Toronto-set cult favourite “Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World”, playing Envy Adams, ex-girlfriend to Scott Pilgrim (Michael Cera). Nailing Metric’s “Black Sheep”, Larson gives a sexy and seductive performance that makes us just want more musical roles for the Oscar winner.
Eminem In ‘8 Mile’
While critics may claim Eminem is just playing himself in “8 Mile”, he totally owns his big screen debut performance as a struggling young Detroit rapper, spitting out lyrics in underground rap battles. The 2002 movie is his only major film role to date.
Dolly Parton In ‘9 To 5’
Jane Fonda personally selected Dolly Parton for the role of Doralee Rhodes in the 1980 comedy about three female employees who turn the tables on their sexist and bigoted boss. Parton proves she can be just as funny as Lily Tomlin and hold her own on screen against Fonda. Parton’s catchy title track earned her an Oscar nomination for Best Song and four Grammy noms, including a win for Best Country Song.
Emma Stone In ‘Easy A’
“Pocketful Of Sunshine” and Emma Stone may be synonymous after “Easy A”’s stellar marketing campaign featuring one of the film’s funnier moments, but it’s her high school gym rendition of “Knock On Wood” that really shows a superstar in the making. It’s “easy” to see how she landed her Oscar-winning musical part in “La La Land.”
Eddie Redmayne In ‘Les Miserables’
Surprise! Eddie Redmayne can sing. “Les Mis” director Tom Hooper had his cast sing live to mixed results (there’s a reason Russell Crowe isn’t on this list). While Anne Hathaway may get all the glory for belting out the show-stopping “I Dreamed A Dream”, it’s Redmayne’s passionate performance of “Empty Chairs At Empty Tables” that delivers an emotional and powerful look at what’s at stake in the musical’s final act.
Christina Aguilera In ‘Burlesque’
Is “Burlesque” a good movie? No. But that doesn’t make it any less entertaining to watch Xtina slither around a night club with Cher in this instant camp classic that features more wigs than you can count. She’s not going to be winning an Oscar any time soon, but Aguilera bodes far better in her acting debut than her early-2000s rival Britney Spears did in “Crossroads”.
Renee Zellweger In ‘Chicago’
Renee Zellweger didn’t know she would be asked to sing when she signed on to play wannabe-star-turned-murderess Roxie Hart in the 2002 musical “Chicago”. While her co-star Catherine Zeta-Jones came from a musical theatre background, the film was Zellweger’s singing debut and she totally owns the jailhouse spotlight.
Bjork In ‘Dancer In The Dark’
When you win the Best Actress award at Cannes for your acting debut, do you even need to act again? You don’t if you’re Bjork. The Icelandic singer nailed her debut performance in “Dancer In The Dark” and hasn’t accepted a major role since. Or perhaps she’s still as emotionally devastated as everyone else who saw the 2000 film.
Taron Egerton In ‘Rocketman’
Taron Egerton transforms into Elton John in the musical fantasy biopic "Rocketman".
The Welsh actor belts out some of John's biggest hits including "Your Song", "Bennie And The Jets" and "I'm StilL Standing" -- a track he also performed in the animated musical "Sing".
His vocals definitely get Sir Elton's seal of approval! The pair duet on the Motown-inspired track "I'm Gonna Love Me Again" over the film's end credits.