While the Best Supporting Actress Oscar is often awarded to an ingenue, like the 2022 winner Ariana DeBose (“West Side Story”), it can also be a way to reward a more seasoned performer. In 2021 Youn Yuh-jung, who is renowned in her native South Korea, won at age 73 for her first English film, “Minari.” And in 2020, the academy honored past nominee Laura Dern who finally took home an Oscar for her scene-stealing performance in “Marriage Story.” (Scroll down for the most up-to-date 2023 Oscars Best Supporting Actress predictions.)
While Dern was clearly a featured player in her picture, two of her rival nominees, Florence Pugh and Margot Robbie, could easily have submitted themselves in lead for their roles in “Little Women” and “Bombshell” respectively. But the studios decided to campaign only their co-stars, Saoirse Ronan and Charlize Theron, in the top race and this proved to be a winning strategy as all four reaped bids.
In 2019, Emma Stone and Rachel Weisz could have contended in lead for their roles in “The Favourite” but got out of the way of their co-star, Olivia Colman, who bagged the Best Actress Oscar. Stone and Weisz were both Oscar winners already with the former prevailing in lead for “La La Land” in 2017 and the latter taking home this award in 2006 for “The Constant Gardener.”
Weisz was the de facto leading lady in her winning film as were other such recent Best Supporting Actress champs as Viola Davis (“Fences,” 2017); Alicia Vikander (“The Danish Girl,” 2016) and Patricia Arquette (“Boyhood,” 2015).
When Stone won Best Actress, she became the 32nd winner to be in her 20s when picking up this prize. By comparison, only 17 of the Supporting Actress winners have been under 30. Conversely, just two Best Actress victors have been in their 50s while it is eight for supporting, including Dern and Allison Janney (“I, Tonya,” 2018).
While 34 of the Best Actress winners were thirtysomething, this is true of just 27 of the supporting actress champs. However, only 16 of the Best Actress winners have been in their 40s compared to 24 of the supporting ones (both Colman and King number among these).
Six of the Best Actress winners were in their 60s (Katharine Hepburn won twice at that age) as were four in Supporting Actress. Hepburn is also the only Best Actress winner to be in her 70s while six women of this age have done so in supporting. Jessica Tandy was the lone champ in her 80s, having hit that milestone almost a year before she won Best Actress for “Driving Miss Daisy” in 1990.
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Please note: To read full descriptions of each film, check out our 2023 Oscars Best Picture predictions. Category placement remains in question for several of these contenders who could be positioned in Best Actress.
UPDATED: February 6, 2023
Angela Bassett (“Black Panther: Wakanda Forever”)
Kerry Condon (“The Banshees of Inisherin”)
Jamie Lee Curtis (“Everything Everywhere All at Once”)
Hong Chau (“The Whale”)
Stephanie Hsu (“Everything Everywhere All at Once”)
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