It was inevitable: the now-distinguished actor Mark Wahlberg is nominated for an Oscar and early, embarrassing photos of the former Funky Bunch rapper come out of the woodwork. It was so difficult to choose the right photo, too, but I had a lot of help from MarkWahlbergFan.com, a site with hundreds of photos throughout Wahlberg's career. I was very tempted to share a photo from Wahlberg's 1993 exercise video, Form ... Focus ... Fitness, the Marky Mark Workout, but none of those pictures showed his cute little baby face. The photo from Renaissance Man of Marky Mark in the shower, the Calvin Klein ads -- it was a tough choice. I finally decided on the above autographed photo from the early 1990s, although I couldn't determine the exact year.

The photo contrasts nicely with Wahlberg's recent career -- for one thing, he seems to make better fashion choices these days. I used to think he was a wooden pretty-boy who didn't belong in films, but I've been convinced otherwise (thanks in part to Cinematical's former East Coast Editor, Martha Fischer, who has always advised me on finding good photos of Wahlberg). I didn't like him at all in The Italian Job, but that may have been the exception rather than the rule. Invincible was worth seeing only for Wahlberg's performance as Vince Papale. Many people are rooting for him to land the Best Supporting Oscar on Sunday for his performance as Dignam, the cop with a nasty sense of humor, in The Departed. Film blogger That Little Round-Headed Boy has a special Wahlberg-related dream for Oscar night -- go take a look.