Dame Judi Dench Could Become The Oldest Actor To Win An Oscar

Known for her versatile work on stage and screen, 87-year-old acting legend Dame Judi Dench has accrued an impressive list of record-setting achievements. For instance, she became the oldest cover model for Vogue magazine in 2020, and she holds the Guinness World Record for the most Laurence Olivier Award nominations by any individual.

Well, the Dame has the chance to make history yet again by becoming the oldest Academy Award winner ever in an acting category. Dench just received a nomination for best supporting actress for her role in “Belfast,” a 2021 coming of age comedy-drama written and directed by fellow British acting icon Kenneth Branagh.

In the acclaimed film — which was also nominated for best picture at the 2022 Oscars — she plays the grandmother of 11-year old Buddy (played by Jude Hill), whose parents are struggling to decide whether to stay in tumultuous Northern Ireland or leave for the safety of the England in 1969. Award-winning Irish actor Ciaran Hinds plays her husband and Buddy’s grandfather.

“Belfast” was filmed in 2020 during the pandemic with rigorous safety procedures in place. Dench told the Daily Mail that the chance to return to a film set felt “glorious … like suddenly being released from a cage.”

AP | Matt Dunham

While Dench’s nomination at the age of 87 is remarkable, she’s actually not even the oldest performer to be nominated for best supporting actress. Gloria Stuart holds that honor for her work as the older Rose in 1997’s “Titanic,” which saw her also nominated at the age of 87 but several months older than Dench.

Still, this marks the incredible eighth Oscar nomination for Dench. Her first was for the lead role of Queen Victoria in 1997’s “Mrs. Brown.” She’d win her first — and, so far, only — trophy for playing another royal, Queen Elizabeth I, in 1998’s “Shakespeare in Love.”

She also received nominations for her roles in 2000’s “Chocolat,” 2001’s “Iris,” 2005’s “Mrs. Henderson Presents,” 2006’s “Notes on a Scandal” and 2013’s “Philomena.” This means Dench has been up for an Oscar in each of the past four decades!

James Ivory directs Judi Dench and Helena Bonham-Carter in "A Room with a View."
Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences

Thankfully for movie lovers, the actress has no plans to slow down.

“Retirement is not a word used in my house,” Dench told the Daily Mail in October 2021.

If she wins the honor for “Belfast,” Dench would become the oldest actor to ever win an Oscar, surpassing Sir Anthony Hopkins, who won for best actor for his work in 2020’s “The Father.” A win would also make her one of only two women in their 80s to win an Oscar for acting. In 1990, Jessica Tandy won best actress at 80 years old for her role in “Driving Miss Daisy.”

You can currently rent “Belfast” on streaming services like Amazon Prime Video, Apple’s Movies app, RedBox and YouTube.