Christopher Plummer and the oldest Oscar-winning performers

The 82-year-old's supporting role in Beginners broke the all-time record

Christopher Plummer won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor last night, making him the oldest ever winner of an acting Oscar.

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Plummer is 82 – the previous oldest winning actor or actress was Jessica Tandy, who was 80 when she won the Oscar for Best Actress for Driving Miss Daisy in 1990. George Burns was also 80 when he was honoured in 1976 for his supporting role in The Sunshine Boys.

Accepting his award for his part in Beginners, Plummer looked at his Oscar statue and quipped: “You’re only two years older than me, darling. Where have you been all of my life?” (The Oscars were in fact inaugurated in May 1929, seven months before Plummer was born.)

The Best Supporting Actor category dominates the list of the oldest ever acting winners, with four of the top five (see below). And this year it was always likely to break the record: one of the other nominees, Max von Sydow, is eight months older than Plummer. His nomination for Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close makes him the second oldest male nominee of all time, behind Hal Holbrook, who was recognised for Into the Wild in 2008 at a month shy of 83.

The oldest ever acting nominee is Gloria Stuart, who was 87 when she was shortlisted for Titanic in 1998.

Had the 76-year-old Woody Allen won this year’s Best Director statue – he lost out to The Artist’s Michel Hazanavicius – he would have been the oldest ever winner in that category, beating Clint Eastwood, who was 74 when he won for Million Dollar Baby in 2005.

The top five oldest Oscar-winning performers

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1. Christopher Plummer, 82 (Best Supporting Actor, Beginners, 2012)
2. Jessica Tandy, 80 (Best Actress, Driving Miss Daisy, 1990)
3. George Burns, 80 (Best Supporting Actor, The Sunshine Boys, 1976)
4. Melvyn Douglas, 79 (Best Supporting Actor, Being There, 1980)
5. John Gielgud, 77 (Best Supporting Actor, Arthur, 1982)