Why Lucas Hedges Probably Won't Win That Oscar — & It's Not His Fault

Photo: Courtesy of ABC.
This morning, you may have asked yourself: Who the hell is Lucas Hedges? His name floated to top-tier status when he was nominated for an Oscar. Why is he nominated? The 20-year-old newbie appeared in Manchester by the Sea alongside Casey Affleck and Michelle Williams. His was one of the more surprising of the nominations released this morning. Unfortunately for Hedges, he likely won't win — and that's not his fault. Though they often favor women ingénues, the Academy rarely recognizes men first-timers.

Let's look at the facts. In 2013, a 23-year-old Jennifer Lawrence took home a statue for Silver Linings Playbook. She shared the nomination with a 10-year-old Quvenzhané Wallis. That same year, the "Supporting Actor" category featured only actors well over 50: Robert De Niro, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Alan Arkin, and Tommy Lee Jones. Bradley Cooper, Joaquin Phoenix, Denzel Washington, and Hugh Jackman populated the "Best Actor" category. None of these veteran actors were in their 20s. In fact, the youngest actor nominated for Best Supporting Actor since 2000 was Jonah Hill. When Hill received the nomination for Moneyball in 2011, he was 28. In contrast, Hedges is but 20. And be honest: When was the last time you can remember an man under 30 taking home an Oscar?

So, it would seem that the Academy doesn't favor young men. This gendered double standard is likely borne of Hollywood's obsession with young women — older women, in comparison, do not receive the same amount of adoration from the Academy. (The exception, of course, is Meryl Streep, who just received her 20th nomination.) The pattern isn't helpful for actors of any gender. Men have to work for years in order to gain recognition from the Academy. Women struggle to maintain status after a spike of public interest during their youth.

That being said, Hedges is very accomplished for his age. He appeared in Moonrise Kingdom in 2012 when he was barely in his teens. Even if he doesn't win, Hedges has a healthy career ahead of him. I mean, the guy more than held his own next to Casey Affleck. That has to count for something, right?
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