Youngest Best Actor Oscar

The 25 Youngest Oscar Nominees of All Time

Hailee Steinfeld in True GritWhen does a child actor stop being merely precocious and enter the pantheon of acting gods? You know the gods of which we speak; they look down from their mighty pedestals as we shower them with tributes year after year… THE OSCAR NOMINEES.

Well, in order to walk through that threshold into Hollywood’s elite circle, these young folks have to have chops, serious chops. Or be really, really cute. Either way, it takes sacrifice, hard work and possibly some crazy-ass stage parents.

In honor of this year’s youthful nominees Hailee Steinfeld (“True Grit”) and Jennifer Lawrence (“Winter’s Bone”), and for your continued cinematified education, we present the youngest ever Academy Award nominees and winners from throughout the history of the awards.

Justin Henry, ’Kramer vs. Kramer’ (1979)

Age: 8
Nomination: Best Supporting Actor (Youngest Nominee)
A troubled family is at the center of 1979’s “Kramer Vs. Kramer, ” where Henry played the son of Dustin Hoffman’s career-obsessed father. When his mother (Meryl Streep) leaves, the father and son overcome their mutual resentment and learn to love each other. Aside from a minor role as Molly Ringwald’s brother in “Sixteen Candles, ” Henry hasn’t had much of a career per-se, currently working as a Regional Director of Sales at the website Veoh. He waits patiently to reprise his nominated role in the inevitable crossover, “Kramer Vs. Kramer Vs. Alien Vs. Predator.”

Jackie Cooper, ’Skippy’ (1931)

Justin Henry inAge: 9
Nomination: Best Actor (Youngest Winner)
You might know him best as Daily Planet editor Perry White in the Christopher Reeve-era “Superman” flicks, but Cooper became a child actor in the late 1920s as one of the “Little Rascals.” In 1931 he was “loaned” to Paramount to play the rambunctious lead of “Skippy, ” based on the popular comic strip. Though not so well known today, “Skippy” is filled with milestones, being the only film based on a comic or graphic novel nominated for Best Picture, and the youngest Best Director win for Norman Taurog (32). Cooper himself is also the earliest still-living nominee in any category. Wow.

Mary Badham, ’To Kill a Mockingbird’ (1962)

Age: 10
Nomination: Best Supporting Actress (Youngest Nominee)
Badham lost her Oscar to Patty Duke in 1962, but lives on in pop culture as the irrepressible Scout in the film version of Harper Lee’s perennial high school-read “Mockingbird.” She continued a lifelong friendship with co-star Gregory Peck, continuing to refer to him by his character name Atticus. As for Boo Radley, we assume she saved the nickname “boo” for her husband. The younger sister of “Saturday Night Fever” director John Badham, Mary retired from acting after a few more years of minor roles.

Abigail Breslin inTatum O’Neal, ’Paper Moon’ (1973)

Age: 10
Nomination: Best Supporting Actress (Youngest Winner)
This is it. If there’s a child comedy acting equivalent to the Sistine Chapel, it has to be prodigious young Tatum acting alongside her poppa Ryan in Peter Bogdanovich’s 1973 comic caper “Paper Moon.” As one half of a Depression-era father/daughter con team, she created a cigarette-smoking tomboy with a heart of gold. The dialogue between the two of them is priceless:
Moses: I got scruples too, you know. You know what that is? Scruples?
Addie: No, I don’t know what it is, but if you got ’em, it’s a sure bet they belong to somebody else!

Abigail Breslin, ’Little Miss Sunshine’ (2006)

Age: 10
Nomination: Best Supporting Actress
We just want to thank Olive’s heroin-snorting grandpa for teaching her the super freaky moves that won the hearts of audiences everywhere (but not the title competition) when this indie sensation came out in 2006. We’d also like to thank the sweetly adorkable Breslin for making all the other Olives out there believe in themselves, and huge thanks to her mom and dad for… oh wait, this isn’t a beauty pageant, sorry. Now 14, Breslin has continued to impress in comedies like “Zombieland, ” and in 2010 followed in Patty Duke’s footsteps as Helen Keller in a Broadway revival of “Miracle Worker.”

Quinn Cummings, ’The Goodbye Girl’ (1977)

Age: 10
Nomination: Best Supporting Actress
As Marsha Mason’s 10-year-old daughter Lucy in Neil Simon’s hilarious rom-com, Cummings virtually created the now stand-by trope of the little girl who doles out funny, overly-wise advice to adults. She says of Richard Dreyfuss’ neurotic actor character, “I think he’s kinda cute, he reminds me of a dog that nobody wants.” Interestingly, Dreyfuss was at the time the youngest Best Actor recipient for this movie, and held the title for 25 years until Adrien Brody’s “The Pianist.” Cummings retired from acting in ’91, and is now a blogger and inventor of a baby carrier.

Anna Paquin, ’The Piano’ (1993)

Age: 11
Nomination: Best Supporting Actress
The second-youngest Oscar-winner in history, after Tatum, is the adorable Ms. Paquin, who captured a mystifying quality quite rare in child performances. She plays the daughter of a mute Scotswoman (Holly Hunter) who only communicates through her piano, and their experiences living under a stifling New Zealand frontiersman. After a few mid-level films, her career caught fire again with her touching role (get it?) as Rogue in the “X-Men” trilogy. She branched out that southern accent of hers as a telepath with a thing for vampires on the HBO hit “True Blood.”

Haley Joel Osment, ’The Sixth Sense’ (1999)

Age: 11
Nomination: Best Supporting Actor
No disrespect to his memorable turns in “A.I.” or as Forrest Gump Jr., but Haley Joel will (ironically) have “I see dead people” engraved on his tombstone. His eerily mature portrayal of the haunted Cole Sear in M. Night Shyamalan’s sleeper mega-hit made him iconic, and supposedly Steven Spielberg’s choice for Harry Potter. Osment’s last high-profile role was in 2003’s “Secondhand Lions, ” and he’s since dabbled in stagework, videogame voiceovers, and DUIs, but at 22 he’s a long way from “over.” That other former kid actor with three names, Jackie Earle Haley, taught us that you can’t keep a good actor down.

Brandon De Wilde, ’Shane’ (1953)

Age: 11
Nomination: Best Supporting Actor
The Justin Bieber of his day, De Wilde was a multi-talented prodigy whose Oscar-nominated turn in the Alan Ladd western “Shane” cemented his teen idoldom, making him a mainstay in Disney productions and the star of his own sitcom. He then set about triumphing on the stage, screen, Broadway, and as a musician, befriending superstars like Paul McCartney and Gram Parsons. Tragically, in 1972 his life was cut short by an auto accident and he died at the age of 30.

Anna Paquin in Haley Joel Osment in Shane Bad Seed
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