Historically the Best Actress Oscar has usually been awarded to an ingenue while the Best Actor prize is typically taken by a veteran. But these age biases could be changing. While a whopping 32 of the 92 Best Actress champs have been in their 20s when they picked up their Oscars, the last two women to win were 60-year-old Frances McDormand (“Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”) and 45-year-old Olivia Colman (“The Favourite”). And Colman’s closest rival was Glenn Close (“The Wife”), who was hoping for her first win at age 71. (Scroll down for the most up-to-date 2020 Oscars predictions for Best Actress.)
Fifteen of the 92 Best Actress winners, including Colman, were in their 40s when they took to the stage while 34 were thirtysomething. Julianne Moore was 54 when she finally won after four losses for “Still Alice” in 2015. The only other Best Actress winner in her 50s was theater veteran Shirley Booth who won for reprising her Tony-winning role in 1952’s “Come Back, Little Sheba.”
Had she prevailed, Close would have been the third oldest Best Actress winner in the 91-year history of the Academy Awards. Katharine Hepburn was almost 75 when she won her record fourth Oscar for “On Golden Pond” in 1982 while Jessica Tandy was 80 when she prevailed in 1990 for “Driving Miss Daisy.”
We had predicted Close to finally take home an Oscar after racking up six losses. Her pal Meryl Streep had defied the youth bias when, at age 62, she picked up her third Oscar in 2012 for “The Iron Lady.” Streep also had the overdue factor in her favor as it had been almost three decades since her second win for “Sophie’s Choice.” Likewise for Helen Mirren who was 61 when she was crowned champ for “The Queen” in 2007 after two previous losses. Geraldine Page was also 61 when she finally won on nomination #8 for “A Trip to Bountiful” in 1986. Katharine Hepburn, who was 26 when she claimed her first Oscar in 1934 for “Morning Glory,” had just entered her 60s when she won Best Actress back-to-back (“Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner,” 1967; “The Lion in Winter,” 1968). The only other Best Actress champ in her 60s was Marie Dressler who won for “Min and Bill” at the 4th Academy Awards in 1931.
UPDATED: February 9, 2020
Please note: To read full descriptions of each film, check out our Best Picture predictions.
Renée Zellweger, “Judy” (Roadside/LD Ent – September 27)
Charlize Theron, “Bombshell” (Lionsgate – December 20)
Cynthia Erivo, “Harriet” (Focus – November 1)
Scarlett Johansson, “Marriage Story” (Netflix – November 6; streams December 6)
Saoirse Ronan, “Little Women” (Sony – December 25)
Click on the linked categories below to read our previews of each of these races.