This year’s quartet of Oscar acting winners is one for the ages. With an average age of 56.5, 59-year-old Gary Oldman (“Darkest Hour”), 60-year-old Frances McDormand (“Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”), 49-year-old Sam Rockwell (“Three Billboards”) and 58-year-old Allison Janney (“I, Tonya”) are the second oldest foursome to take home Oscars.
They only trail the Class of 1981, which featured three septuagenarians — 76-year-old Best Actor Henry Fonda (“On Golden Pond”), 74-year-old Best Actress Katharine Hepburn (“On Golden Pond”) and 77-year-old Best Supporting Actor John Gielgud (“Arthur”) — and 56-year-old Maureen Stapleton (“Reds”) for an average age of 70.75, which may never be surpassed. Since the supporting races weren’t added until the ninth ceremony, Oldman, McDormand, Rockwell and Janney aren’t the second oldest set of winners overall; that belongs to then-53-year-old Lionel Barrymore (“A Free Soul”) and then-63-year-old Marie Dressler (“Min and Bill”), whose average age was 58 at the fourth Oscars.
For an industry and an awards show that prizes youth, especially in Best Actress, this year’s group of veteran champs is a refreshing change of pace. Just two years ago, both female winners were in their 20s: Brie Larson (“Room”) was 26 and Alicia Vikander (“The Danish Girl”) was 27. Three of the last five Best Actress winners were also twentysomething ingenues. What’s more, the 11-year gap between this year’s oldest (McDormand) and youngest (Rockwell) winners is less than the gaps of the last two years of Best Actor and Best Actress winners; then-41-year-old Leonardo DiCaprio (“The Revenant”) has 15 years on Larson, while then-41-year-old Casey Affleck (“Manchester by the Sea”) is 13 years Emma Stone’s (“La La Land”) senior.
McDormand and Oldman also cracked the top 10 oldest winners list of their respective categories, with the former becoming the ninth oldest Best Actress champ and the latter, who turns 60 on March 21, becoming the eighth oldest Best Actor winner.
Oh, and if you’re curious, the youngest quartet of acting winners is the Class of 1961. “Judgment at Nuremberg”’s Maximilian Schell, then 31, “Two Women”’s Sophia Loren, then 27, and “West Side Story”’s George Chakiris, then 27, and Rita Moreno, then 30, averaged 28.75 years young.