Tatum O' Neal and Anna Paquin

Tatum O’ Neal in Paper Moon and Anna Paquin in The Piano.

Girls are made of sugar, spice and Oscar trophies it seems like.

Is always charming when a young actor or actress gets nominated to the Oscars. Rarely the predictions pay attention to the little ones of a movie as possible contenders, unless the performance was breathtaking.

Back in the day there was a special juvenile Oscar given to underage actors, an adorable seven inches replica of the famous statue. Awarded to any outstanding performer under the age of eighteen. This honor started after nine- year old Jackie Cooper was nominated in the category of Best Actor in 1931 for the movie Skippy and lost to Lionel Barrimore.

The academy considered then, that adults had an unfair advantage against children so they created the “mini-Oscar” to make sure the younglings got the recognition they deserved.

Incidentally, this was the same reason they stopped this tradition when, Patty Duke won the Oscar in 1963 for her role in The Miracle Worker beating all the adult actresses. This unexpected victory showed them that kids could compete and win fair and straight against older contenders, thus the award was discontinued.

But even in the case of the Juvenile Oscar the girls still won most of them and to date, no boy has won an Oscar.

The record for the youngest nominee was held, until was broken this year by Quvenzhané Wallis who was only six when she filmed Beasts of the Southern Wild, by a boy: Justin Henry who was only eight, in the movie Kramer vs Kramer in 1979.

With him we only have three other boys left to mention; Brandon De Wilde, who was eleven in Shane in 1953 Sal Mineo, seventeen, Rebel Without a Cause in 1955. And, who can forget the nomination of Haley Joel Osment, eleven, for his performance in The Sixth Sense in 1999. But he lost the trophy that year to the seasoned Michael Cain for the Cider House Rules. Boys get no love from uncle, Oscar.

The girls on the other hand represent the most memorable ones, was for the recently recognized with the Cecil B. DeMille Award Jodie Foster, fourteen when she was nominated as a Supporting Actress in Taxi Driver, 1976. We also have popular young stars, like Abigail Breslin, who was ten in Little Miss Sunshine, 2006 and Saiorse Ronan, acting opposite Keira Knightley in Atonement ,2007 and who will star on highly anticipated The Host this summer among the recognized majority. Other nominees were:

Bonita Granville, 14, These Three (1936)

Patty McCormack, 11, The Bad Seed (1956)

Mary Badham, 10, To Kill A Mockingbird (1962)

Quinn Cummings, 10, The Goodbye Girl (1977)

Keisha Castle Hughes, 13, Whale Rider (2003)

Hailee Steinfeld, 14, True Grit (2010)

As for winning the girls have taken only two so far. The first one was Tatum O’Neal, eleven, Paper Moon in 1973. Who won Best Actress in a Supporting Role, acting opposite her real life dad Ryan O’ Neal. And, it took twenty years to repeat the feat with Anna Paquin, who is now the leading lady in the critically and popular acclaimed vampire series True Blood, winning at the same age and the same award for, The Piano in 1993.


I have no idea if Quvenzhané will win the statue, it seems that predictions are not in her favor. But I do know that as slim are her chances are this year, they would be almost zero if she was a boy. Regardless, I’m sure she will enjoy brag to her friends, how she got to sleep to pass her bedtime, on February 24. I know I would.


For the purposes of this article I only counted actors who were under eighteen, at the moment of their nominations.