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Past and Present: Oldest Nominees at the Oscars

Jennifer Wegerer
By Jennifer WegererFebruary 27, 2014

Past and Present: Seniors at the Oscars

In a field where youth would seem to be a must-have, seniors are enjoying long, notable careers, from the past to the present- often giving performances that stand out from the crowd. Earning an Academy Award nomination is no easy task. Actors and actresses have to give performances that impress their peers enough to earn their votes in the top acting categories. Whether they have had many prior nominations or none at all, seniors continue to make the list of nominees from year to year.

Oldest Oscar Nominees

In 2013, the Academy named its oldest nominee ever in the Best Actress category, 85-year-old Emmanuelle Riva for her role in Amour. Also, that same year, Christopher Plummer, at age 82, became the oldest winner in any acting category for his performance in Beginners. The oldest nominee to date is Gloria Stuart who was 87 when she received her nomination for Titanic in 1998.

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  1. Gloria Stuart – 87(Titanic)
  2. Emmanuelle Riva – 85 (Amour)
  3. June Squibb – 84 (Nebraska)
  4. Robert Duvall – 84 (The Judge)
  5. Clint Eastwood – 84 (American Sniper)
  6. Hal Holbrook – 82 (Into the Wild)
  7. Max von Sydow – 82 (Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close)
  8. Christopher Plummer – 82 (Beginners)
  9. Ralph Richardson 82 (Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan, Lord of the Apes)
  10. Jessica Tandy – 80 (Driving Miss Daisy)
  11. Edith Evans – 80 (The Whisperers)
  12. George Burns – 80 (The Sunshine Boys)
  13. Richard Farnsworth – 79 (The Straight Story)
  14. Judi Dench – 79 (Philomena)
  15. Bruce Dern – 77 (Nebraska)

The Oldest Nominees This Year Are…

The oldest Academy Award nominees for the 2015 Oscars are both 84 years old. Born in 1930, Clint Eastwood produced and directed the Best Picture nominated American Sniper. Eastwood was not nominated for Best Director, but given the buzz, there is a good chance we’ll see Eastwood accepting an award for his film. Born in 1931, Robert Duvall, has been nominated for an Oscar seven times. This year, he received a nomination from the Academy for Best Actor in a Supporting Role for his work in The Judge.

In 2014, the Academy Awards showcased senior performances in three out of four of the top acting categories, proving that longevity is as much of an asset as talent. Nominees included:

Judi Dench, Best Actress Nominee for Philomena

Judi Dench

In 2014, at age 79, Judi Dench received her seventh Academy Award nomination since 1997. No other actor has received this many nominations over the age of 60. An actress for over 50 years, Dench has done her share of Shakespearian roles, heady dramas and even some espionage with James Bond. She won the Oscar for Best Actress in a Supporting Role in 1998 for her performance in Shakespeare in Love.

In Philomena, Dench plays a woman searching for the child she was forced to give up years ago.

Judi Dench was recently diagnosed with age-related macular degeneration. Her eye health has declined to the point that she struggles to read and watch movies anymore. But, she has no plans to retire from acting and remains enthusiastic about the acting opportunities that await her.

Bruce Dern, Best Actor Nominee for Nebraska

Bruce Dern

He received his first Oscar nomination 35 years ago for Best Actor in a Supporting Role for Coming Home. Known for playing sociopaths and criminals, Bruce Dern has often taken on co-starring roles in the roughly 80 films that he has appeared in since the 1960s. But, his career as a leading man, some 50 years in the making, seems to be taking off with his latest film.

In Nebraska, Dern, age 77, plays an alcohol-addicted father who travels from Montana to Nebraska with his adult son in order to claim a million-dollar sweepstakes prize. Dern has built a reputation for creating authentic moments not written into a script. Although his career has endured ups and downs, he has been a steady presence in movies for over four decades, and he has already been cast in his next leading role in the film The Boat Builder.

June Squibb, Best Actress in a Supporting Role for Nebraska

June Squibb

A theater actress since the 1950s, June Squibb auditioned for her first movie role at age 60. She actually auditioned for three roles at the time and got all three, supporting parts in Alice (her film debut in 1990), Scent of a Woman and The Age of Innocence.

Nominated for her performance as the combative, foul-mouthed spouse of Bruce Dern’s character in Nebraska, Squibb is making a name for herself as a film actress at age 84. In fact, if she wins the Oscar on Sunday, June Squibb will take over Christopher Plummer’s title as the oldest person ever to win for acting.

Editor’s note: All photos from Oscar.go.com.

What seniors are your favorite picks for this year’s Oscar winners? What are some of your favorite Oscar-nominated senior performances from the past? Tell us in the comments below.

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Jennifer Wegerer
Jennifer Wegerer

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