Top 10 Youngest Oscar Nominees of All Time



Top 10 Youngest Oscar Nominees of All Time

VOICE OVER: Kirsten Ria Squibb WRITTEN BY: Jesse Singer
These young people hit the ground running with these Oscar-nominated and Oscar-winning roles. For this list, we'll be looking at boys and girls who were nominated for an Academy Award before they were old enough to drive. Our countdown includes Haley Joel Osment, Anna Paquin, Tatum O'Neal, and more!

Top 10 Youngest People to be Nominated for an Oscar

Welcome to MsMojo, and today we’re counting down our picks for the Top 10 Youngest People to be Nominated for an Oscar.

For this list, we’ll be looking at boys and girls who were nominated for an Academy Award before they were old enough to drive. And just a note that we will be ranking them by age, not by the quality of their nominated performances.

What do you think of these young nominees? Let us know in the comments below.

#10: Haley Joel Osment
11 Years Old

It’s been said that life is like a box of chocolates because you never know what you’re going to get. Haley Joel Osment didn’t get an Academy Award nomination for playing Forrest’s son in “Forrest Gump,” but he did pick one up just a few years later. That’s right, at the age of 11, Haley Joel earned a Best Supporting Actor nomination for his breakthrough role in “The Sixth Sense.” The performance would go on to live in pop culture infamy. Unfortunately for Osment, it wasn’t destined for Oscar glory as well. The award ended up going to the category’s oldest nominee that year, 66-year-old Michael Caine, for his performance in “The Cider House Rules.”

#9: Anna Paquin
11 Years Old

Imagine being 11 years old and winning an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress. Well, we know one person on the planet that doesn’t have to imagine it because she lived it. Anna Paquin has found plenty of success in TV and film from “True Blood” to “X-Men,” but none of it might ever compare to her acting debut. Yes, that’s right, “The Piano” was 11-year-old Anna’s first ever acting gig. Not only did it get her nominated for an Oscar, it made her a winner. In fact, Paquin became the second-youngest Oscar winner ever. Not a bad way to kick off a career.

#8: Patty McCormack
11 Years Old

In 2018 Lifetime aired the made-for-television movie, “The Bad Seed” starring, and directed by, Rob Lowe. The film also featured a special appearance by 73-year-old actress Patty McCormack. What some folks watching might not have known was that this wasn’t the first time McCormack appeared in “The Bad Seed.” As it so happens, the Lifetime movie is a remake of a 1956 film based on the 1954 play, which itself was based on the novel, “The Bad Seed.” McCormack would star in the play on Broadway and go on to reprise her role in the screen adaptation. Then at the age of 11, earned herself a Supporting Actress Oscar nomination for her role in the film..

#7: Abigail Breslin
10 Years Old

Like Haley Joel Osment, Breslin also starred in an M. Night Shyamalan film at a young age when, at six years old, she made her film debut in “Signs.” However, unlike Osment, that role only got her a Young Artist Award nomination. For Abigail, her trip to the Oscars would come four years later on the strength of her inspiring and crowd-pleasing performance as Olive Hoover in “Little Miss Sunshine.” Breslin’s Olive had audiences and critics alike dancing along to her tune. The role earned the then-10-year-old a nomination for Best Supporting Actress. However, she ended up losing to a 25-year-old Jennifer Hudson, who made history of her own that night, becoming the Youngest African-American to win an Oscar.

#6: Quinn Cummings
10 Years Old

Quinn Cummings quit acting in the early 90s and went on to make a name for herself as an author and inventor. You know those HipHugger baby carriers? She invented that. But for the purposes of this list we need to go all the way back to 1978. 10-year-old Cummings was nominated for a Best Supporting Actress Oscar for her role in the 1977 film, “The Goodbye Girl.” As Lucy, Cummings turned in a witty and mature performance. While she didn’t win, her co-star in the movie, Richard Dreyfuss, nabbed the Oscar for Best Actor, becoming - at the time - the youngest man to win said award. He was 30.

#5: Mary Badham
10 Years Old

In 1963, a 16-year-old Patty Duke became, at the time, the youngest person to ever win an Oscar when she took home the Best Supporting Actress award for her portrayal of Helen Keller in “The Miracle Worker.” What many people may forget, though, is that Duke wasn’t even the youngest nominee in her own category. That honor belonged to 10-year-old Mary Badham, who earned her Supporting Actress nomination for playing Scout in “To Kill a Mockingbird.” Badham took on the hefty challenge of anchoring the adaptation of Harper Lee’s seminal novel. Sixty years later her performance stands the test of time. She also made Oscar history that year by becoming the youngest nominee in that category at the time.

#4: Tatum O'Neal
10 Years Old

Remember when we said Anna Paquin was the second youngest Oscar Academy Award winner? Well, at 10 years of age, Tatum O’Neal is the youngest person to ever win an Oscar. O’Neal took home the golden man for her supporting role, opposite her father, actor Ryan O’Neal, in the 1973 film, “Paper Moon.” She also won the Best Foreign Actress award at the David di Donatello awards, which are the Italian Academy Awards. Though she was 10 when her name was called at the Oscar ceremony in 1974, she was only 8-years-old when she auditioned for the role and turned nine during filming. As if we weren’t impressed enough already.

#3: Quvenzhané Wallis
9 Years Old

As of the 2021 Academy Awards, Quvenzhané Wallis is still the only person born in the 21st century to be nominated for an acting award by the Academy. Her nomination came for her amazing performance in the 2012 film, “Beasts of the Southern Wild.” The movie also picked up nominations for Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Adapted Screenplay. Up until this entry every nomination on this list has been in the supporting acting categories, while Wallis was nominated for Best Actress. At nine years old, this made her the youngest nominee the category had ever seen.

#2: Jackie Cooper
9 Years Old

For many filmgoers, he might be best known for playing Perry White, editor-in-chief of the Daily Planet, in the original “Superman” movies. However, Jackie Cooper had his name permanently inscribed into the Oscar history books almost 50 years prior. In 1931 a 9-year-old Cooper starred in the film “Skippy.” For this performance he received a Best Actor nomination at the 4th Academy Awards. This made him the first child actor ever nominated for an Oscar. He would remain the youngest ever Oscar nominee for almost five decades until... Well, you’ll find out when we get to number one.

Before we unveil our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions.

Hailee Steinfeld, 14 Years Old
She Picked up a Supporting Nomination for Her Performance in “True Grit”

Jodie Foster, 14 Years Old
She Couldn’t Drive a Taxi, But She Could Earn an Oscar Nomination

Keisha Castle-Hughes, 13 Years Old
The Youngest Ever Best Actress Nominee Until Quvenzhané Wallis Came Around

Saoirse Ronan, 13 Years Old
She Received Her First Nomination at 13 & Her Fourth Before She Turned 26

Brandon deWilde, 11 Years Old
His Supporting Nod in 1954 Made Him the Youngest Ever Oscar Nominee at the Time

#1: Justin Henry
8 Years Old

What were you doing when you were eight years old? It’s okay if you don’t know, your year definitely wasn’t as memorable as Justin Henry’s. That’s right, at the tender age of 8, Justin Henry became a full fledged Academy Award nominee. It’s an achievement no other actor, or third grader for that matter, could imagine. Henry received his nomination on the strength of his performance as Billy Kramer, the child at the center of the custody dispute in the 1978 film, “Kramer vs. Kramer.” He also picked up Supporting Actor nominations from the David di Donatello and Golden Globe Awards. While it’s hard to imagine a younger nominee ever dethroning him, this list has proved that nothing is impossible.