Quvenzhané Wallis in 'Beasts of the Southern Wild' (Photo: Mary Cybulski/Fox Searchlight)
Wait a minute … are we missing some "old people" nominations?
Oscar seems to have a new spring in its stride this year as many of the acting-related Academy Award nominations went to relatively younger thespians -- a stark contrast to the Golden Globes, who this year ended up saluting the Hollywood veterans.
Indeed, this year sees the youngest-ever nominee for Best Actress in the form of Quvenzhané Wallis, 9, who was all of six years old when she filmed "Beasts of the Southern Wild." True, this year also sees the oldest-ever Best Actress nominee with Emmanuelle Riva, 85, for "Amour," but she's in something of a league of her own as compared to the other three nominees: Naomi Watts, 44; Jessica Chastain, 35; and Jennifer Lawrence, 22.
Notably missing from this list is Oscar veteran Meryl Streep, 63, who's nominated for a Golden Globe this year for her performance in "Hope Springs." Other female Golden Globe nominees this year include such industry seniors as Helen Mirren (for "Hitchcock"), Judi Dench (for "The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel") and Maggie Smith (for "Quartet"), none of whom received Oscar nods.
Meanwhile, at 58, Denzel Washington is this year's oldest nominee for Best Actor, followed closely behind by 55-year-old Daniel Day-Lewis. The other nominees skewed younger with Hugh Jackman, 44; Joaquin Phoenix, 38; and Bradley Cooper, 38, whereas the Golden Globes skewed slightly older with noms for Richard Gere, 63, and Bill Murray, 62.
One notable exception to this phenomenon is in the Best Supporting Actor category, which completely mirrors its Golden Globes counterpart except for one major difference: Robert De Niro got an Oscar nom for his performance in "Silver Linings Playbook," whereas Leonardo DiCaprio got the Golden Globe. (This could be De Niro's revenge for Leo replacing him as director Martin Scorsese's unofficial muse, a sort of 20-years-later variation on the veteran actor terrorizing DiCaprio on screen in "This Boy's Life.")
Anyway, is the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences having some sort of existential crisis? Was bringing in "Ted" funnyman Seth MacFarlane as this year's host just the first step in conjuring a younger, hipper awards show? This could also be seen as something of a betrayal, as the members of the Academy -- notorious for being "elder statesmen" in their own right -- snub their peers. Whatever's truly going on behind the scenes (if anything), it's nice to see Oscar turning back the clock a bit this year.