Oscar history: Judi Dench (‘Belfast’) would be oldest acting winner ever at age 87

Anthony Hopkins set a record at the Oscars earlier this year with his Best Actor win for “The Father.” At 83, he became the oldest person to win an Oscar in any acting category, beating the previous record holder Christopher Plummer, who, in 2012, won Best Supporting Actor for “Beginners” at age 82. Hopkins may soon be supplanted, though, if voters decide to give another win to one of their favorite dames. Judi Dench is quickly gaining awards buzz for her supporting turn in Kenneth Branagh‘s new film “Belfast,” and if she is nominated and wins, she would make history as the oldest acting Oscar winner at 87 years old.

If Dench, who turns 87 on Dec. 9, is nominated for “Belfast,” she would also tie the record set by Gloria Stuart in “Titanic” as the oldest women nominated for an acting Oscar. In terms of oldest winners in Best Supporting Actress, Dench would beat Peggy Ashcroft by 10 years, as the latter won at age 77 for “A Passage to India” in 1985. The “Belfast” star would be one of only two women in their 80s to win an Oscar for acting, joining Jessica Tandy for “Driving Miss Daisy,” who won Best Actress at 80 years old in 1990.

SEE ‘Belfast’ seeks to score the elusive supporting double-double at the Oscars

In “Belfast,” Dench plays Granny, the grandmother of Buddy (Jude Hill), a boy living through the civil unrest of Northern Ireland in the 1960s. Granny and her husband, Pops (Ciarán Hinds), room with Buddy and his parents and dispense wisdom to the impressionable young boy. Dench’s character in particular doles out practical advice to Buddy as he grows up in uncertain times. It is the kind of scene-stealing grandmother performance the academy loves to nominate, as seen not once but twice this past year with winner Yuh-Jung Youn (“Minari”) and nominee Glenn Close (“Hillbilly Elegy”).

Dench is a previous Best Supporting Actress winner for 1998’s “Shakespeare in Love” and has accrued six other acting bids over the years, most recently in 2014 for “Philomena.” The latest Gold Derby odds have Dench just on the outside of Best Supporting Actress in sixth place. The dame is behind her “Belfast” co-star Caitriona Balfe; should they both get nominated, it would mark the first time that Dench is competing against a co-star in the same Oscar category.

Oscar odds for Best Supporting Actress
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