Christopher Plummer set a record when he won Best Supporting Actor for “Beginners” at the Oscars held in February 2012. He was 82-years-old at the time, which made him the oldest acting winner in the history of these awards. He held that record for nine years, but it was just broken by Anthony Hopkins (“The Father”). Check out the complete list of 2021 Oscar winners here.
Hopkins prevailed for his role as an man who struggles with the worsening symptoms of dementia as his daughter (Olivia Colman) tries to care for him. Hopkins turned 83 in December, so he’s a little more than a year older than Plummer was in 2012. It also gave Hopkins a long-awaited Oscar bookend: it’s his second victory following his iconic Best Actor triumph as Hannibal Lecter in “The Silence of the Lambs” almost 30 years ago.
But this result was far from a sure thing. In fact, the late Chadwick Boseman (“Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom”) was the odds-on favorite to win the Oscar for the final performance he ever filmed before he died of cancer last August. He had won Best Actor awards at the Golden Globe, Critics Choice, and SAG Awards. But “Ma Rainey” had less Oscar support than we were expecting. In fact, Boseman was the only Best Actor nominee whose film wasn’t up for Best Picture.
Strangely, the Oscars chose to present Best Actor after giving Best Picture to “Nomadland.” It seems likely that producers were expecting a big emotional finish with Boseman’s posthumous victory at the end of the night. Instead, Hopkins was announced as the surprise winner and presenter Joaquin Phoenix ended up accepting the award on his behalf since Hopkins didn’t participate in the ceremony, even via satellite.
But Plummer, who passed away earlier this year, still holds an age-related record. He was 88 years and 41 days old when he received his last nomination, Best Supporting Actor for “All the Money in the World” (2017), so he remains the oldest nominated actor in history. Might Hopkins eventually break that record too?