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Quvenzhané Wallis, star of 'Beasts of the Southern Wild,' becomes youngest Best Actress Oscar nominee ever

Tiny starlet joins a special club of young nominees

By Kate Erbland Jan 10, 2013 1:31PM
This morning's Oscar nomination announcements were punctuated by all manner of shocks - "snubs" for directors Kathryn Bigelow, Ben Affleck, and Paul Thomas Anderson; overwhelming love for "Lincoln," which pulled in twelve nominations; and a surprising number of high profile nominations for Sundance hit "Beasts of the Southern Wild" - but few of those picks were as satisfying (at least trivially speaking) as the nomination of the youngest Best Actress contender ever. Nine-year-old "Beasts" star Quvenzhané Wallis now joins a distinguished group of young nominees and winners, many of who have gone on to big things, and a few who remain as interesting footnotes when it comes to Oscar lore.

Bing: Academy Awards | Quvenzhané Wallis

When it comes to her category, Wallis is the youngest Best Actress nominee by over four years - her closest competitor is Keisha Castle-Hughes, who was nominated at just age thirteen for "Whale Rider." Typically when the Best Actress category skews young it doesn't skew that young, with Wallis and Castle-Hughes coming up quite a bit younger than the rest of the "youngest nominees." In fact, Best Actress has been a unexpectedly solid ground for twenty-year-olds, including Jennifer Lawrence for "Winter's Bone" (Lawrence is, of course, nominated again this year for "Silver Linings Playbook," but she's just missed out on rounding out the Top Ten Youngest list by a few weeks), Isabelle Adjani for "The Story of Adele H.," Keira Knightley for "Pride & Prejudice" and Ellen Page for "Juno."

The youngest Best Actress winner, however? That's a different story, with the honor going to Marlee Matlin for "Children of a Lesser God," which she won at age twenty-one in 1986.

Yet it's often the Best Supporting Actress category that comes to mind when we think of young Oscar winners. And why shouldn't it, especially since the youngest Oscar winner ever comes from its ranks? That would be Tatum O'Neal, who won the award in 1973 for "Paper Moon." She was just ten when she won, and she's also the youngest nominee from her category, one rounded out by a slew of other ten-year-olds, including Mary Badham for "To Kill a Mockingbird," Quinn Cummings for "The Goodbye Girl" and Abigail Breslin for "Little Miss Sunshine." Twenty years after O'Neal's famous win, the second youngest Best Supporting Actress, Anna Paquin for "The Piano," picked up her statuette at the tender age of eleven.

But what about the men?

The Best Supporting Actor category still holds the distinction of having the youngest nominee ever - that would be Justin Henry for "Kramer vs. Kramer," who was just eight when he got the nod - though its youngest winner is the relatively old Timothy Hutton (he won at at age twenty for "Ordinary People," and yes, we're kidding, twenty is still quite young by Oscar standards). Other young Supporting Actor nominees? Well, while "ten" is the magic number for Supporting Actresses, eleven proves solid for the category, with Haley Joel Osment ("The Sixth Sense") and Brandon deWilde ("Shane") both getting nominations at the age.

When it comes to Best Actor, the youngest nominee was Jackie Cooper way back in 1930, who was just nine when he was nominated for "Skippy." The next youngest nominee (and by a lot!) was Mickey Rooney at age nineteen for "Babes in Arms" (he is also the third youngest nominee, with a nod for "The Human Comedy" when he was twenty-three). The youngest Best Actor winner? That would be Adrien Brody, who was just three weeks away from his thirtieth birthday when he won for "The Pianist" in 2002.

And Wallis is not alone in even her category when it comes to age-based superlatives - fellow nominee Emmanuelle Riva ("Amour") is the oldest nominee in the category, as she was will turn eighty-six on the evening of the Oscar ceremony. Congrats to the all the nominees!

The 85th Academy Awards presentation will be held on February 24, 2013.

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3Comments
Jan 10, 2013 5:10PM
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Maybe.....just maybe its not the award show but your lack of good movie taste and/or lack of watching good movies. Sorry to bust your bubbles but most of the best movies made don't have big commercial or are even at your local movie theater. So how about you stop calling movies you clear haven't seen crap and maybe actually go see the movie to improve your movie taste.
Jan 10, 2013 3:45PM
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Why to go academy, nominate more crap that people didn't see.  These awards become less and less significant every year.
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