Oscars 2017: Isabelle Huppert Could Become the Third-Oldest Best Actress Winner Ever
By: Carson Blackwelder
With the 89th Academy Awards right around the corner, it seems that the best actress category contains one of the tightest races with Emma Stone going head to head against Isabelle Huppert. While the La La Land ingénue is considered the favorite to take home the trophy, it’s the esteemed legend from Elle who would be the one making history. At 63 years of age — just shy of her 64th birthday — the French thespian would become the category’s third-oldest winner at the Oscars.
Come the night of the ceremony — this Sunday, February 26 — Huppert will be exactly 63 years, 11 months, and 10 days old. When looking at the history of the best actress category, there are only two other women who were older than this hypothetical outcome when they took home their statuettes: Katharine Hepburn and Jessica Tandy. Hepburn won for On Golden Pond at the 1982 ceremony when she was 74 years, 10 months, and 17 days old. Tandy won for Driving Miss Daisy at the 1990 ceremony when she was 80 years, nine months, and 19 days old. The woman slightly edged out of the third slot by Huppert is Marie Dressler. Dressler won for Min and Bill at the 1931 ceremony when she was 63 years and one day old.
When compared to the rest of the best actress nominees, Huppert isn’t the oldest nominee — but the category is mostly filled with young women. The eldest person up for a win this year is Meryl Streep from Florence Foster Jenkins who, by the big night, will be 67 years, eight months, and four days old. The age of other nominees by the time of the ceremony are: Loving’s Ruth Negga at 35 years, one month, and 19 days old; Jackie’s Natalie Portman at 35 years, eight months, and 17 days old; and Stone at 28 years, three months, and 20 days old.
The Hollywood Reporter’s Scott Feinberg — along with pretty much every other person prognosticating the awards — predicts Stone to win, with Huppert in the prime position to pounce on an opening. In terms of building momentum, Stone won awards at the Golden Globes, the BAFTAs, and the SAGs while Huppert won at the Golden Globes (remember, they split it between musical/comedy and drama). This would be a first-ever Oscar win for either of these talented women, though Stone has been nominated before and Huppert — who is also, shockingly, a first-time nominee — has won a César Awards (the French version of the Oscar) out of a record 16 nominations.
“Of course it’s nice. Of course I care about it. Of course I take it for what it is, which is kind of the crowning achievement of my journey as an actress. The whole thing has been just extraordinary,” Huppert told Feinberg in a recent episode of ‘Awards Chatter’ when asked about finally getting an Oscar nomination. You can listen to the whole episode in full here, but just know the Paris-born actress discussed her affinity in playing “perverse, manipulative, icy” characters as well as how those on-screen personas “are extremely close to [her]” just as much as they “have nothing to do with [her].”
There are a few other things — beyond age — that would make a potential win for Huppert all the more interesting. The first is that it would be only the ninth time an actor or actress won for a role in a foreign language film, with just 33 different people nominated in the lead and supporting categories prior to Huppert. The other deals with the subject matter itself. While Elle isn’t nominated for best picture, it is a film starring an older woman who plays an older woman with no apologies for doing so — something the Academy Awards seem to have a problem with.
With voting over, it’s a done deal and we just have to wait. We’ll soon find out who reigns supreme when the Oscars air this Sunday night. It has been a long season with many impressive performances and memorable films — but only one can win. Stone certainly has the force of La La Land behind her but, for Huppert, the time may have finally arrived for her chance to be recognized in the eyes of the Academy. And, should Huppert take home gold for Elle, it will certainly be a win for the history books.