Last year's Best Actress Oscar category made headlines for featuring both the youngest and oldest women ever to be nominated for the statuette. (9-year-old Quvenzhane Wallis for "Beasts of the Southern Wild" and 85-year-old Emmanuelle Riva for "Amour," respectively.) This year's slate of contenders can also claim a superlative, as Vanity Fair points out that the five nominated women are the oldest group ever to vie for the little gold guy.
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The youngest nominee among the bunch is "American Hustle" star Amy Adams at 39, a full decade older than the age of the average Best Actress winner throughout the category's last 85 years of existence. The other women in Adams's category are 44 (Cate Blanchett, "Blue Jasmine"), 49 (Sandra Bullock, "Gravity"), 64 (Meryl Streep, "August: Osage County"), and 79 (Judi Dench, "Philomena"), bringing the category's average age to 55.
For comparison, Vanity Fair writes that the next-oldest lineup came in 2006, when the average age of the nominated women was 51. (Dench was also the oldest nominated actress in that field, too, getting a nod at age 72 for "Notes on a Scandal.")
This year's history-making slate marks a stark change from the Academy's usual penchant for honoring young ingenues in the Best Actress category (think last year's winner, a then-22-year-old Jennifer Lawrence), and signals a welcome wealth of meaty roles for older women. Hollywood has long had a problem with shunning actresses of a certain age; though a bit belated, it seems Oscar is finally taking note, and looking to correct some of the industry's inherent ageism by recognizing some truly worthy performers.
Here's hoping this new trend continues.