Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Oscar's Collection: The Youngest Best Actress Nominees

Another Oscar Trivia Explosion. This time it's the Actresses. 

Jennifer Lawrence made quite a film-carrying impression in Winter's Bone this past summer. It was one of the leggiest arthouse hits in some time, playing for months, and wracking up $6+ million without a huge advertising budget or bankable stars and with grim subject matter. Well done. At Christmas Hailee Steinfeld will lead us on a revenge journey in True Grit. While we suspect she's the lead actress as well, people her age are almost always demoted to "Supporting" if they're sharing the screen with a big star as co-lead and she is. Hi, Jeff Bridges! But we're pretending she's an Oscar lead today so as to have double the excuse to make this list. Humour us, won'cha?


36 Youngest Best Actress Nominees
And where Jennifer or Hailee would fit in, were they to be nominated. (Winning performances are in red.) Disclaimer/Bragging: You won't find info this extensive elsewhere! The Official Oscar site / Wikipedia only offer top tens. However the following info is approximate. Though the Academy's top ten is down to the day of the actual nominations, they don't provide official nomination dates only ceremony dates. Inside Oscar and Wikipedia also only list the ceremony dates so we're just using February 1st, ∞ as a general calculation date for when nominations happened for given years.

Youngest "Best Actress" Wins: Matlin & Gaynor
  1. Keisha Castle Hughes, Whale Rider (2003) was 13.
    Wow, well would you look at this? Either Jennifer Lawrence or Hailee would become #2 if nominated for Best Actress.
  2. Isabelle Adjani, The Story of Adele H (1975) was 20. [more]
  3. Keira Knightley, Pride & Prejudice (2005) was 20 going on 21. [more]
  4. Ellen Page, Juno (2007) was about to turn 21. [more]
  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 [more]
  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) [more on Julia, more on Noni]
    They were both 23 years and 108 days old when they were Best Actress nominated. And here's another twin moment: it was the second nomination for both as they'd been previously honored in Best Supporting Actress.
    What's in the box? Your first BEST ACTRESS nomination!
    As you can already see this list skews quite a bit younger than the parallel "Ten Youngest Best Actor List which ends with a 27 year old.
  11. Lynn Redgrave, Georgy Girl (1966) was 23. 
  12. Liza Minnelli, The Sterile Cuckoo (1969) was 23. [more]
  13. Catalina Sandino Moreno, Maria Full of Grace (2004) was 23.
  14. Carol Kane, Hester Street (1975) was 23.
  15. Natalie WoodSplendor in the Grass (1961) was also 23. [more]
  16. Joan Fontaine, Rebecca (1940) was 23. [more]
  17. Laura DernRambling Rose (1991) was 24. [more]
  18. Merle Oberon, The Dark Angel (1935) was 24. 
  19. Jennifer JonesThe Song of Bernadette (1943) was 24. [more]
  20.  Julie ChristieDarling (1965) was 24. [more]
  21. Shirley MaclaineSome Came Running (1958) was 24. [more]
  22. Audrey Hepburn, Roman Holiday (1953) was 24. [more]
  23.  Jeanne Crain, Pinky (1949) was 24.
  24. Carey Mulligan, An Education (2009) was 24. [more]
  25. Joan Fontaine, Suspicion (1941) was 24. (becoming the youngest actress to earn Two-Time Best Actress Nominee status.)
  26.  Teresa WrightPride of the Yankees (1942) was 24. [more]
  27. Elizabeth TaylorRaintree County (1957) was 25. [more]
  28. Audrey HepburnSabrina (1954) was 25.
  29. Carrol BakerBaby Doll (1956) was 25.
  30. Maggie McNamaraThe Moon is Blue (1953) was 25.
  31. Natalie WoodLove with the Proper Stranger (1963) was 25.
  32. Hilary SwankBoys Don't Cry (1999) was 25 [more]
  33. Greta Garbo, Anna Christie/Romance (1929/1930) was 25. [more]
  34. Carrie SnodgressDiary of a Mad Housewife (1970) was 25.
  35. Gene Tierney, Leave Her To Heaven (1945) was 25. 
  36. Grace KellyThe Country Girl (1954) was 25. [more]
Audrey & Natalie () are the runners up to Joan Fontaine's "youngest 
woman to achieve 'Two-Time Best Actress Nominee' status." They both did it 
by 25. (It was Natalie's 3rd nom, see also supporting, but she never won.)

26 year olds in chronological order are (winners in red): Katharine Hepburn, Morning Glory (1932/1933), Luise Rainer, The Great Ziegfeld (1936), Wendy Hiller, Pygmalian (1938), Vivien Leigh, Gone With the Wind (1939), Joan Fontaine, The Constant Nymph (1943), Jennifer Jones, Love Letters (1945), Elizabeth Taylor, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1958), Shirley Maclaine, The Apartment (1960), Samantha Eggar, The Collector (1965), Faye Dunaway, Bonnie & Clyde (1967), Barbra Streisand, Funny Girl (1968), Liza Minnelli, Cabaret (1972), Jodie Foster, The Accused (1988), Gwyneth Paltrow, Shakespeare in Love (1998), Samantha Morton, In America (2003), Anne Hathaway, Rachel Getting Married (2008) and Gabourey Sidibe, Precious (2009).

Why did I stop there when the male list went to 30? Well, have you ever seen William Wyler's The Collector (1965) with Samantha Eggar and Terence Stamp?

Sexy Stockholm Syndrome: Stamp & Samantha in Sixty-Five

In the movie Terence Stamp plays an unbelievably sexy charismatic creep --perhaps he's just meant to be a creep but it's Stamp so --  who stalks and then kidnaps a beautiful young redhead (Eggar) who he takes to his lair intending to wine and dine her. It's easy to interpret it as a deeply symbolic film about The Academy Awards and their annual mauling/coopting of young actresses into Oscar's circus. "Get in the van missy, you're going to the Kodak!" [Where am I going with this?  Abort. Abort... Note to self: Blog Tourettes Medication. Look into it. Not all trains of thought need airing.] 

Ahem... You'll notice, perhaps sadly if you're a trivia nut like me, that this list does not include everyone up to the age of 30 as the corresponding Best Actor list did. Let me put it to you this way: in the whole history of the Academy Awards the Oscars have only nominated a leading man under thirty 22 times in 80+ years. I had planned to make this list exactly parallel, but I wasn't yet out of the 1930s (the 1930s!) and I was already past a top 25 and there was no way the list would ever be finished given that there were still 70+ years to go! So I decided I'd have to stop at age 26 and even then you can see that the numbers just explode.

In other words... Terence "Oscar" Stamp in The Collector! Here are The Girls from the past decade.

  Youngest Lead Actress Nominees of the Aughts

Do these lists make you feel old? Perhaps you aged just trying to make it through?


Danielle said...

Thanks for the list - I didn't realize Keira was the third youngest.

I think another interesting topic is who will be the first two-time nominee of actresses currently 30 years old or younger, which hasn't happened yet. It looks like Natalie Portman will be our first and only this year (perhaps Hathaway and Williams, but that's seeming less and less likely). It's fitting, because of her generation of actresses she's been around the longest.

Keira was very close in doing it for Atonement, and I imagine she'll have a great chance next year for A Dangerous Method, along with Hathaway (One Day) and Williams (My Week With Marilyn, Take This Waltz).

I love talking about young actresses! =D


Danielle -- i didn't either!

it's interesting that despite Oscar's love of young women, i think statistically here, that it's now skewing a bit older in general (i could be wrong)

I mean, Natalie Wood & Audrey Hepburn don't have any current threats to that "first to two!" status, do they?

Volvagia said...

So right on demoting kids to supporting. Saorise Ronan was, frankly, the lead of Atonement. McAvoy? 35 minutes of a 118 minute movie (without credits.) Knightley? Maybe 25. Ronan? 60/118 Ronan's character? 90/120. Ronan's Function (because this is what you consider "lead material." I only think it's 1 part of the argument after appearing in 25% or more of the movie): To activate the whole rest of the movie. Everything flows out of Ronan's section of the character. She's LEAD. Knightley's function: Grief, and a touching, yet minor, death by drowning scene. McAvoy's function: To allow the director to stage a WWII scene. They're both SUPPORTING.


Volvagia -- hmmm. i don't buy the argument. I buy the argument that Saorsie Ronan's CHARACTER is the lead, but not Saoirse herself since two other actresses take over.

Roberta Lipp said...

Winona Rider was just stinky in Little Women. I'm never forgiving anyone for pretending otherwise. I thought it then, in the theater, and recently re-watched just to make sure.

Color me bitter--she wrecked an otherwise stunning film for me.

Danielle said...

At this point, actresses having "two-time" status by 25 seems hard to come by - we don't know what Ronan, Wasikowska, Lawrence, etc will pull out in the next few years, but it does seem to be skewing older. (Ronan could possibly do it with supporting/supporting or supporting/leading.)

It's been 6 years since Natalie was nominated, 5 for Knightley, etc... they're making them wait longer. But I think in the next 5 years we'll see a lot of these actress with two nominations - Hathaway, Knightley, Wiliams, Mulligan, etc.

And I totally forgot that Williams' first nomination is supporting - which is weird to me.

Danielle said...

Volvagia - wait, are you saying Ronan is in the film for 60 minutes? Absolutely no way - the first section is only 40 minutes long, and it shuffles between her character, Knightley's, and McAvoy's. "Briony" is a leading character, along with Robbie, in the book, but because she's split into three actors, they all have to be seen as supporting. The first Briony acts as a catalyst for the rest of movie, but then she completely disappears.

In the movie Knightley can go either way, IMO, though I think the baftas got it right.

NicksFlickPicks said...

Sad news for Nathaniel, but I'm pretty sure Joan Fontaine beat Audrey and Natalie to the record in question. She was born in October 1917, so she'd have been 23 when nominated for Rebecca in early 1941 and 24 when nominated for Suspicion (her winning performance) in early 1942.




ok. I have fixed. I'm totally confused how i missed Fontaine in the first place. grrrrr.

Unknown said...

It's weird to be writing about Atonement, but I looked at the supporting actress runtimes on StinkyLulu (oh, how I miss reading those smackdowns!) and Ronan is calculated at 23 minutes of screentime. (Blanchett has more than that in I'm Not There.) The character is a lead, but the actresses that play her are all supporting actresses.
As for the matter at hand, I really hope they don't stick Steinfeld in supporting, it looks like she's the lead from beginning to end. It's the kind of category misplacement that the Academy has been resisting, but in a lineup as uncrowded as this, she has a strong chance to make it.

Volvagia said...

I watched very closely when I saw it on DVD. It was minute 70 by the time they actually got to the war. By that point, Ronan had picked up 50 mins of that 70. Add in a 5 minute flashback scene and I'm only 5 minutes off in my initial estimation. Point is: LEAD. And, by the way, who says a lead HAS to be A CONSTANT PRESENCE. Lead: An actor who controls the majority of the movie. Ronan definitely qualifies over Garai, McAvoy and Knightley.

Dave in Alamitos Beach said...

In honor of the recently deceased Jennifer Jones, you have to change her red color to BOLD since she did in fact win that Oscar for The Song Of Bernadette.

David O. was able to get that first award for her, but kinda screwed up the rest of her career chasing down a second one.

But just generally, wow, I am really impressed with this list. It must have taken a lot of effort to put together!


volvagia -- while i sympathize with anyone who fights the good fight on category fraud, methinks you're outnumbered on this particular one. Few people have ever complained about Saoirse being a category fraud situation.

and Lulu was usually pretty accurate with those calculations.

Danielle -- I think you're right though i wouldn't count on all of them. By my estimation (i did the math like 5 years ago...) 67% of Oscar nominees in the acting categories are never nominated again.

Mike -- i miss StinkyLulu's smackdowns too. They were so cool.

James T said...

What would these ladies like to drink?

Bette Davis: "A milkshake!"

I'm really humbled by your work (I'm talking to Nathaniel, though obviously I'm humbled by Bette's work too :p).

It's kind of weird that the two youngest are: 1) Perf in a small film 2) French

Andrew R. said...
This comment has been removed by the author.

I think it's kind of all of you that no one mentioned how evil Marlee Matlin was to steal the Oscar away from Kathleen Turner. SO NOT RIGHT!

/3rtfu11 said...

I think it's kind of all of you that no one mentioned how evil Marlee Matlin was to steal the Oscar away from Kathleen Turner.

That’s because she stole it from Sigourney Weaver.
OT: Does anyone think the statuettes looked better when they had a shorter stand?

Philip said...

I'm STILL depressed about Evan Rachel Wood's that sad? :(

jimmy said...

augh - marlee matlin - she should not have won - just take a look at the dress, the glasses, the hair. this was kathleen turner's year - her one & only year. i'm still pissed. what difference does it make??? i'm probably dead anyway.

Anonymous said...

Hey, how old was Saiorse Ronan when she was nommed for Atonement?

cal roth said...

Sigourney Weaver was the best, for sure. Turner should have won for Body Heat.

Carlos said...

Jennifer Jones did won the oscar fot The Song of Bernadette. Great post Nathaniel! I really LOVE trivias!!

eduardo said...

wow... i'm shocked to find out Julia was in her early 20's when she got the nod for Pretty woman. And also didn't know Samantha Morton was so young back in 03 O_o

NicksFlickPicks said...

Marlee Matlin shouldn't have won because of her questionable styling on the actual night? Oh.

Nathaniel, we have so many points where we lovingly agree to disagree, and Kathleen Turner's general level of awesomeness is sort of one of them. But in Peggy Sue Got Married specifically... I would love to hear a defense of this performance if you wind up seeing it again, especially since you're such a huge fan of Lt. Ellen Ripley. As much as I know you love Kathleen, I actually can't imagine you voting for her in this over Weaver in Aliens. There are a lot of KT performances better than Peggy Sue (a problem that starts with the absurd writing, so I'm not just blaming her). And up against Sigourney in and out of that yellow cargo loader? I just don't see it.

Anyway (back to agreeing to disagree), I think Marlee's good in Children of a Lesser God, and I'm super excited about this career resurgence since Dancing with the Stars. She's beat the odds to become an awesome celebrity. (I'm thinking less of her being deaf than of her overcoming the expectation of being perceived as a "one-hit wonder" for quite some time.)

mikhael said...

Keira wasn’t nominated for Pride & Prejudice in 2003. she is 25 now, so it’s about 2005, right?

jimmy said...

i was being silly about the horrible oscar attire for ms matlin. but a frumpy lavendar dress, flowers in the hair and glaaes? ick. anyhoo - i am crazy about kathleen turner in peggy sue. that scene she has with nichols cage in the basement...the campfire scene with the guy....talking to her grandmother on the with the edsel - "dad, you always did stuff like that." i just love that movie / love her.

Karen said...

Love Pride & Prejudice and Keira Knightley. She deserved that award, though. And look at her now, she's famous than ever and I can't wait to see more of her movies.

Anonymous said...

Good Posting, but that is not Samantha Eggar with Terence Stamp but model Jean Shrimpton.


anon -- weird. it's labelled as Samantha Eggar on all sorts of websites.


I have fixed the image. Damn that Jean Shrimpton was a fox, though. I'm sad i can't use the photo now.

HW said...

In your Youngest Best Actor list, you write,

"Once actors have hit 30 the leading roles start coming."

as an explanation for the age disparity of male and female nominees.

I respectfully disagree with this view. Whatever the reason is for so many more female nominees under 30 than male, it can't be due to the roles becoming available to men over 30, while being scarce for men under 30. That may be a factor but it's a very very minor factor IMO.

For example, DiCaprio and Winslet both became huge stars thanks to TITANIC, but only Winslet got the Oscar nod. Both continued to receive plum parts in mainstream movies all throughout their 20s, yet again, only Winslet continued to accumulate nominations. DiCaprio was receiving just as many good parts as Winslet, yet he wasn't scoring the Oscar noms and she was.

Likewise, Christian Bale made a movie called THE MACHINIST at about the same age as Natalie Portman is now, a movie that seems almost identical in themes, storyline, and plot twists to BLACK SWAN (I'm basing this on the BS script, I haven't seen the movie yet). Yet, despite a very compelling and technically accomplished performance, he received no Oscar buzz whereas she's already been annointed by critics the frontrunner.

Another example: Adrien Brody only won his Oscar because Oscar voters disregarded the critics' choice of frontrunner, Daniel Day-Lewis for GANGS OF NEW YORK, who won many more critics' prizes than Brody did that year.

A counter-example: Anne Reid garnered many excellent reviews for her acting in the May-December romance THE MOTHER. Few awards, however, and no Oscar nod. When Peter O'Toole did a very similar movie called VENUS made by the same group of people (writer Hanif Kureishi and director Roger Michel), he got feted and nominated. he old man got in, the old woman didn't.

My belief is that many critics, and some Oscar voters, feel vaguely threatened by young actors. An old man would rather see someone closer in age to himself win than some young whippersnapper. It makes him feel over-the-hill to see all the prizes go to very young men. However, I feel that it's actually critics and journalists, far more than Oscar voters, who feel this threat most strongly and who are most directly responsible for blocking young actors from many noms or wins. Perhaps no very young actor in the history of American film has enjoyed more unanimous critical approval and adulation than Marlon Brando in the 50s. Surprise, surprise: he's also the only actor to rack up nom after nom after nom after nom at the Academy Awards (five nominations by age 32!) in the early springtime of his career.

That tells me that it's really critics and the media, more so than the Oscar voters themselves, who are the primary cause of young actresses reaping the gold while young actors very rarely do so. When critics unanimously exalt a very young male star, as they did with Brando, the Oscar voters tend to follow suit. On the rare occassions when critics really go to bat in a big way for a young star like Ryan Gosling, or the stars of Brokeback Mountain, for example, they got in - as the 60-year-old Helen Mirren also did, because the critics were unanimous about her. So don't count Jesse Eisenberg out. Much of it will be down to the critics' choices.

Alex said...

Don't be mad at Marlee, be mad at the Academy! I personally think she deserved the Oscar, and I don't think anyone would be upset if Kathleen (who I LOVE) had just been nominated for Body Heat, Romancing the Stone, Prizzi's Honor, The War of the Roses, and Serial Mom (though that would've never happened).


Alex -- well, yes. The Academy clearly had issues with Kathleen Turner. At least she got one nomination but she's one of the greats (like Mia Farrow) that they just couldn't warm to for reasons which I imagine were entirely based on things offscren.

Tahj said...

You all mentioned Natalie and Audrey Hepburn as the youngest to have two, well actually wasn't Kate Winslet the youngest actor ever to land two nominations? And then she kept breaking the record with subsequent nominations (youngest to get three, youngest to get four, etc).

Oh and Isabelle Adjani was so young giving that masterful performance in The Story of Adele H!


Tahj -- this list was only about BEST ACTRESS. The youngest to win two nominations (of any acting sort) was Angela Lansbury (with Kate Winslet and Sal Mineo as the runners up) as discussed in a previous post.