Oscar-nominees John Williams and Judd Hirsch break historic records

By Sanj Atwal
split image of John Williams and Judd Hirsch

Steven Spielberg’s semi-autobiographical coming-of-age drama, The Fabelmans (2022), has received two record-breaking Oscar nominations – in addition to five regular ones – ahead of the 95th Academy Awards.

Music composer John Williams (USA, b. 8 February 1932) became the oldest Oscar nominee ever after receiving a Best Original Score nomination at the age of 90 years 350 days, whilst another age-related record was set by veteran actor Judd Hirsch for the longest gap between acting nominations at the Academy Awards (41 years 341 days).

Williams’ nomination made him the first nonagenarian to be Oscar-nominated (excluding the seven individuals who received honorary, non-competitive awards at a greater age), surpassing director Agnès Varda (Belgium/France, 1928-2019) who was 89 years 279 days old when shortlisted for Best Documentary Feature in 2018.

This was Williams’ 53rd Oscar nomination overall – that’s more than any living person and just six short of Walt Disney’s world record.

John Williams

Of his 53 Oscar nominations, Williams has been up for Best Original Score an unprecedented 48 times and Best Original Song five times. His very first nomination was for composing the soundtrack to Valley of the Dolls (1967).

Williams and Spielberg have been working together for many years. 18 of their 29 collaborations have been Oscar-nominated, and three went on to earn a gold statuette: Jaws (1976), E.T the Extra-Terrestrial (1983), and Schindler’s List (1994).

Williams has also won two other Best Original Score awards for Fiddler on the Roof (1972) and Star Wars (1978).

Should Williams go on to win his sixth Oscar at the 95th Academy Awards, he will become the oldest Oscar winner ever, surpassing James Ivory (USA, b. 7 June 1928) who was 89 years 271 days old when he won Best Adapted Screenplay for Call Me By Your Name (2017).

Judd Hirsch

Judd Hirsch’s Best Supporting Actor nomination – received for his portrayal of Spielberg’s great-uncle Boris - comes 41 years 341 days after his first, achieved in the same category, for playing Tyrone C Berger in Ordinary People (1980).

The record was previously held by actor Henry Fonda (USA, 1905–82) who had a gap of 41 years 1 day between his Best Actor nominations in 1941 (for The Grapes of Wrath) and 1982 (for On Golden Pond).

At 87 years 315 days, Hirsch was the second-oldest acting nominee in Oscar history, behind Christopher Plummer (Canada, 1929-2021), who was 88 years 41 days when nominated for Best Supporting Actor in 2018.

Plummer didn’t go on to win the award, but he already held the record of oldest Oscar winner as Best Supporting Actor, which he set in 2012, aged 82 years 65 days.

Anthony Hopkins (UK, b. 13 December 1937) holds the record of oldest Oscar winner as Best Actor. He won the award for his role in The Father (2020) at the 93rd Academy Awards, aged 83 years 116 days. 

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