The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences doesn’t hand out Oscars to everyone. It is a mark of prestige to be awarded one of the golden statues and the recognition of the Academy and film colleagues that comes with it. So when someone still coming of age or in the infancy of their career as a young adult wins, it’s a testament to their immense talent.
Shirley Temple, one of the first and most successful child actresses, never officially won an Academy Award. However, she became a recipient of the Honorary Juvenile Award at the tender age of six, making her one of the most impressive young talents in Hollywood. Adrien Brody, meanwhile, made history when, at 29, he became the youngest actor to win the Academy Award for Best Actor for the 2002 film. The pianist.
Even so, Brody still doesn’t come close to being one of the youngest Oscar winners ever. There are at least a dozen Academy Award winners who were in their 20s, and many more nominees who were even younger, from Abigail Breslin at 10 to Saoirse Ronan at 13. Here, however, are the youngest winners of all time, in any category.
Jennifer Lawrence – Silver Linings Playbook, 2012 (Age 22)
Named by Time magazine in 2013 as one of the most influential people in the world, one of the reasons Jennifer Lawrence received this accolade was because, at the age of 22, she had just won the Academy Award for Best Actress for the role her in the romantic comedy-Drama Silver Linings Playbook. The film is about a young man named Pat (Bradley Cooper) with bipolar disorder who, after being released from an institution, meets a young widow named Tiffany (Lawrence). Despite initial tensions between the two, they decide to enter a dance competition together as a means of healing. It doesn’t take long for them to realize how much each has to offer the other in this season of grief and reinvention.
Lawrence went on to star in various other roles that proved her range and abilities, including Joy, Don’t Look Up, Causeway, and The Hunger Games and X-Men movies. She will next appear in the coming-of-age comedy-drama No hard feelings.
Drift Silver Linings Playbook on Starz.
Marlee Matlin – Children of a Lesser God, 1986 (age 21)
When she was just 21 years old, Marlee Matlin turned heads in her first film role as Sarah Norman in the Children of a lesser God, former student and current janitor at a school for the deaf and hard of hearing. She meets a new teacher James (William Hart) who takes an interest in her and her story. Indeed, Sarah has many problems that she has pushed aside.
Matlin made history as both the youngest winner in the Best Actress category and the first deaf performer to win an Oscar. She was joined 36 years later by Troy Kotsur who won in 2022 for his role in CODAa film in which Matlin also appears (and advocated to ensure that other deaf actors were cast). CODA made history for Apple TV+, making it the first streaming service to win Best Movie.
Drift Children of a lesser God on HBO Max.
Timothy Hutton – Ordinary People, 1980 (Age 20)
Today, most people recognize Timothy Hutton from his roles in series such as Jack Ryan and American Crime. But back in the 1980s, Hutton was an up-and-coming actor whose first major film role shocked Hollywood, earning him an Oscar nomination and win. In Simple people, Hutton starred as Conrad, a young son whose attempted suicide after the accidental death of his brother lands him in a mental institution. The story continues as Conrad deals with survivor’s guilt and PTSD. Hutton won for his emotionally charged performance, making him not only among the youngest winners of all time, but also the youngest winner in the Best Supporting Actor category.
Hutton may recently appear on the ABC drama series Women of the Movement and as Senator John Lyons in the Apple TV+ movie Emancipation.
Drift Simple people on Paramount+.
Patty Duke – The Miracle Worker, 1962 (Age 16)
Just 16 years old at the time, Patty Duke played Helen Keller in the film The Miracle Worker, and her performance was so impressive, it won her an Oscar. Duke had previously played the role on Broadway as well.
Duke continued acting, taking on more mature roles as she grew into adulthood, including Valley of the Dolls and Me, Natalie. For several years in the 1980s, he also served as president of the Screen Actors Guild (SAG). Duke, who counts actor Sean Astin among her children, has been a passionate advocate for mental health, having suffered from bipolar disorder herself. The Patty Duke Mental Health Initiative was founded by Astin in his mother’s name after her death in 2016.
Drift The Miracle Worker on HBO Max.
Anna Paquin – The Piano, 1993 (Age 11)
As a pre-teen, Anna Paquin became the second youngest actress to win an Oscar for her supporting role in the film The piano, a name it still retains today, 30 years later. Paquin’s character in the film, set in the mid-19th century, is Flora McGrath, daughter of Ada (Holly Hunter), a selectively mute woman who speaks only by playing the piano and using a form of sign language that only Flora can interpret. . Given this situation, Flora becomes a voice and translator for her mother.
Paquin went on to gain recognition for other childhood roles and maintained a successful career into adulthood with roles such as Rogue in the X-Men franchise, Sookie Stackhouse in True bloodand, most recently in the lead role of Robin in the British drama Flack.
Rent or buy The piano on Amazon.
Tatum O’Neal – Paper Moon, 1973 (Age 10)
Fifty years later, Tatum O’Neal remains the youngest actor to ever win an Oscar. She took home the statue when she was just 10 years old for her performance as Addie Loggins in the film Paper moon. She starred alongside her father Ryan O’Neill in the comedy-drama about a con man who travels with an orphaned girl. He is hesitant at first, thinking that transporting her will be an easy task. But she quickly proves to be much smarter than she could have ever imagined.
O’Neal won the Golden Globe Award for New Star – Actress that same year for her role. O’Neal continued acting into adulthood, most recently appearing alongside fellow Academy Award winners in the 2021 film Lest I forgetwhich was done to raise awareness and money to fight Alzheimer’s.
Drift Paper moon on Amazon Prime Video