With the 89th Academy Awards set to take place on Sunday evening, we figured it was time for a data journey through the movie archives. We’ve charted the ages of 1,695 actors and actresses that have received an Oscar nomination in one of the four major acting categories. The data stretches back all the way back to the first Academy Awards in 1928. Peep the graphic below to see for yourself.
A closer look at Hollywood’s crème de la crème reveals that female Oscar nominees are an average of six years younger than their male counterparts across both the lead and supporting categories. This finding aligns with other studies that have shown that, while male actors can still nab leading roles into their twilight years, women are generally out of contention for the lead by age 40 (except if you’re Meryl Streep).
Nominees for best actor tend to be more than three years younger than men nominated for supporting roles. And that trend persists for women too. This year, however, we have an anomaly — the nominees in the supporting categories are on average 42 years old, four years younger than the actors and actresses nominated for lead roles.
We see a wider distribution of ages among supporting nominees, who have ranged in age from eight to 87. The distributions of ages for best actor and actress, meanwhile, are more tightly clustered between 25 and 45. We’ll have to see if Meryl Streep, Isabelle Huppert, or Denzel Washington — all of whom are over 60 — can break with tradition and bring home an Oscar this year.
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