‘Minari’s’ Yuh-Jung Youn is the third oldest Best Supporting Actress Oscar winner ever

Yuh-Jung Youn, a legendary actress in her native Korea, made history in the U.S. on Sunday when she became the third oldest Best Supporting Actress winner in Oscars history, winning for her performance as Soon-ja, the scene-stealing grandmother in the six-time Academy Award-nominated film “Minari,” which tells the story of a Korean immigrant family as they attempt to start a farm in rural Arkansas in the 1980s.

At 73 years and 310 days old, Youn, who’s made headlines in recent months for her candid but always delightful acceptance speeches, now sits behind Josephine Hull, who was 74 years and 85 days old when she won for “Harvey” (1950). Both women trail Peggy Ashcroft by a few years; she was 77 years and 93 days old when she won for “A Passage to India” (1984), making her the oldest supporting actress winner. Of course, the oldest nominee in the category remains “Titanic” (1997) star Gloria Stuart, who was 87 years and 221 days old when she received her nomination.

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The path to Oscar glory wasn’t without its hurdles. Youn (and the rest of the “Minari” cast, for that matter) was snubbed by the beleaguered Golden Globes, and then she lost the Critics Choice Award to Maria Bakalova of “Borat Subsequent Moviefilm.” Things finally started to solidify though after she won a Screen Actors Guild Award and the corresponding BAFTA Award for her performance in the movie, which was also nominated for Best Picture. Heading into Sunday’s ceremony, Youn was sitting in first place in Gold Derby’s combined odds, with 27 Experts predicting her to triumph, giving her 31/10 odds. This put her well ahead of the competition, which included Bakalova, Glenn Close (“Hillbilly Elegy”), Olivia Colman (“The Father”) and Amanda Seyfried (“Mank”). Had Close won instead of Youn, she also would have become the third oldest supporting actress winner at 74 years and 37 days. Instead, she still holds the record for the living actor with the most nominations (eight) without a win. 

Becoming the third oldest supporting actress winner in history is not Youn’s only entry into the history books this year though. Her triumph also makes her just the second Asian woman to win an Oscar for acting after Miyoshi Umeki took home the award for Best Supporting Actress for her performance in “Sayonara” (1957). Additionally, Youn is now the sixth person to win for a performance spoken primarily in a non-English language.

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