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Oscar Rear-View: Youngest Best Actress Nominees

Oscar Rear-View: Youngest Best Actress Nominees

Thompson on Hollywood

Film Experience has decided (sight unseen) that True Grit gal Hailee Steinfeld has Best Actress potential rather than the usual supporting-actress default accorded to young actresses. Why? In order to include her in their investigation of the youngest Best Actress nominees. Here is their list (winners are in bold):

1. Keisha Castle Hughes, Whale Rider (2003) was 13.
(Wow, well would you look at this? Either Jennifer Lawrence or Steinfeld would become #2 if nominated for Best Actress.)
2. Isabelle Adjani, The Story of Adele H (1975) was 20.
3. Keira Knightley, Pride & Prejudice (2005) was 20 going on 21. 
4. Ellen Page, Juno (2007) was about to turn 21.
5. Marlee Matlin, Children of a Lesser God (1986) was 21 (She’s the youngest winner of all time in this category.)
6. Elizabeth Hartman, A Patch of Blue  (1965) was 22.
7. Kate Winslet, Titanic (1997) was 22 and 4 months.
8. Janet Gaynor, Seventh Heaven/Sunrise/Street Angel (1927/1928) was just a few days older than Winslet.
9. Leslie Caron, Lili (1953) was 22½
10. TIE! Julia Roberts, Pretty Woman(1990) and Winona Ryder, Little Women (1994).
They were both 23 years and 108 days old when they were nominated. And here’s another twin moment: it was the second nomination for both as they’d been previously honored in Best Supporting Actress.

Without having seen the movie, Sasha Stone considers the above list and believes it’s possible that Lawrence “could win the whole thing” because “hers is the only truly selfless and heroic contender in the pack. Sure, there are other factors and other contenders – there is Natalie Portman (who may end the year with the most lauded performance) and there is beloved Annette Bening.  I don’t think Lawrence is in the same position that Carey Mulligan was last year because Mulligan, though lovable indeed, was not caring for her younger siblings, her sick mother, trying to save their home — all the while delivering a spectacular performance.  She’s a big threat.  Make no mistake about that.”

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Keil Shults

It’s not that once actresses get older they’re offered less juicy roles, but rather that they all go to Meryl Streep.


Who are the youngest actresses to save their studios from bankruptcy?

Shirley Temple at six – BRIGHT EYES (1934, Fox)

Deanna Durbin at 14 – THREE SMART GIRLS (1936, Universal)

Both got honorary Oscars, but poor Deanna had to share hers with Mickey Rooney (ugh!).

The Pope

Just out of curiosity, do you have any data for the male lead category? It has always been my contention that the Academy (like studio execs, producers, directors and casting directors) skews younger for actresses than actors. A pity because most actresses (if anyone were to care to pay attention), get more interesting and hence, more gifted as they get older (actors too). But once the actress wins, or is even nominated, it is almost as if the Academy et al say [and almost in the Biblical sense] we know thee..

How many winning actresses have gone on to do be afforded better work once they win? A few. Very, very, very few. Actors on the other hand… well, they seem to get action franchises!

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