In 1968, 80-year-old Edith Evans broke new ground as the first octogenarian actor to compete for an Oscar (Best Actress, “The Whisperers”). Since then, the academy has nominated 17 other performances given by thespians in their 80s, but prior to this year, none had been recognized in the Best Actor category. With his bid for “The Father,” Anthony Hopkins (83) has finally broken the lead male record set by 79-year-old Richard Farnsworth (“The Straight Story”) in 2000. He is the seventh-oldest acting nominee in Oscar history.
At the upcoming Academy Awards, Hopkins faces off against Riz Ahmed (“Sound of Metal”), Chadwick Boseman (“Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom”), Gary Oldman (“Mank”), and Steven Yeun (“Minari”) in the race for Best Actor. Hopkins previously won the award for “The Silence of the Lambs” in 1992. Oldman is also a past winner in the category for “Darkest Hour” (2018), while the remaining three are all first-time contenders at the Oscars.
“The Father,” which originated as a French play by Florian Zeller, was adapted for the screen by Zeller and Oscar-winner Christopher Hampton (Best Adapted Screenplay, “Dangerous Liaisons,” 1989). Zeller also directs Hopkins in the role of Anthony, whose battle with dementia worsens as the film progresses. Hopkins portrays the regrettably common affliction with great thoughtfulness and demonstrates its devastating effects with haunting authenticity.
Hopkins’s costar, Olivia Colman, is up for Best Supporting Actress for playing Anthony’s daughter, Anne. She celebrated her first Oscar nomination and win in 2019 for her lead role in “The Favourite.” “The Father” is also up for Best Picture, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Film Editing, and Best Production Design. It is one of six films to have earned six bids this year and is thus in second place behind “Mank,” which garnered 10.
Hopkins has a total of six nominations to his name. After winning Best Actor in 1992, he vied for the same prize in 1994 (“The Remains of the Day”) and 1996 (“Nixon”). His performance in “Amistad” brought him a Best Supporting Actor bid in 1998, and he received another for “The Two Popes” just last year. He is now the oldest person to earn back-to-back acting nominations. If he triumphs this year, he will surpass Christopher Plummer (who was 82 when he won for his supporting role in 2011’s “Beginners”) and become the oldest Oscar-winning actor of all time.
This article is a part of Gold Derby’s “Oscar nominee profile” series spotlighting the 2021 contenders.
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