This post marks my contribution to The Rugrats Blogathon instigated by My Stuff & Cr*p. Peruse more precocity at the blogathon HQ...
Starting with the category's first appearance in 1936, Oscar has demonstrated a recurring fascination with the actressing at the edges done by actresses aged 16 and younger. Eleven such young women and girls have been nominated; three have taken home the trophy. The 16-and-under nominees are:
• Bonita Granville in These Three (1936)
• Patty McCormack in The Bad Seed (1956)
• Patty Duke in The Miracle Worker (1962) - winner
• Mary Badham in To Kill a Mockingbird (1962)
• Linda Blair in The Exorcist (1973)
• Tatum O'Neal in Paper Moon (1973) - winner
• Jodie Foster in Taxi Driver (1976)
• Quinn Cummings in The Goodbye Girl (1977)
• Anna Paquin in The Piano (1993) - winner
• Abigail Breslin in Little Miss Sunshine (2006)
• Saoirse Ronan in Atonement (2007)
Such a range of precocity. Girls in touch with the powers of darkness (Granville, McCormack, Blair, Ronan) and girls wise beyond their years (O'Neal, Foster, Cummings, Paquin) and extraordinary innocents who challenge the adults around them to do the right thing (Duke, Badham, Breslin).
Considering this list I'm struck by three main things.
First, most of these young women went on to build interesting and sometimes formidable careers as adult performers. (Only Badham and Cummings left the business entirely and, whatever you wanna say about Linda Blair, you must acknowledge that the gal keeps on working.)
Second, this is such a lily white bunch of little ones. (I guess Keisha Castle-Hughes remains the only young woman of color to have been nominated, although -- of course -- that was over in Best Actress.)
And third, the young girls really do keep the nominators busy. Point of comparison: in the 71 years of Oscar, the twelve African American actresses nominated for Best Supporting Actress account for nearly the same percentage of total Supporting Actress Nominees as the eleven "16 and under" nominees (3.3% and 3.1%, respectively); notably, both groups account for the same number of winners (3). Likewise, and while I acknowlege that the Best Supporting Actor category is not my area of expertise, I can only think of two young male nominees for Best Supporting Actor -- Justin Henry and Haley Joel Osment (are there more?) -- which suggests that the girls really do have it on the boys in this category.
All told, an interesting batch of precociously accomplished actresses.
But I'm curious:
What, lovely reader, most strikes YOU about Oscar's history of nominating younger Supporting actresses? And, now that Dakota Fanning's "aged out" of potential "16 and under" distinction, who do you think is the likeliest contender to snag that 12th slot on the poster? And what's up with Oscar's interest in little girls, anyway? Please share your thoughts in comments.