The Irish actress was nominated for Best Actress for her performance in the period drama Brooklyn and she’s considered by many critics to be a serious contender in a category that includes the likes of Brie Larson and Cate Blanchett.
“I was asleep,” Ronan told the Today hosts shortly after her nomination was announced. “My mom ran in to me, tears streaming down her face, so I knew it was either good news or bad news, and it was the best news ever.”
And while Ronan is only 21, this isn’t her first trip to the rodeo. The actress shot to stardom back in 2007 for her turn as Briony Tallis in the film adaptation of Ian McEwan’s 2001 novel Atonement. Ronan was nominated for a Golden Globe, BAFTA, Critics Choice Award and Academy Award for the role, making her one of youngest nominees for Best Supporting Actress in Oscar history.
While she came out of the 2007 awards season empty-handed – the Oscar ended up going to Tilda Swinton for Michael Clayton – Ronan has done what few other young starlets have managed and remained in the spotlight.
In fact, of the other 10 youngest best supporting actress nominees, only Jodie Foster and Goldie Hawn have made return visits to the Academy Awards. Foster was nominated for Best Supporting Actress in 1976 at the age of 14 for her role in Taxi Driver. She would later win Oscars for Best Actress in The Accused and Silence of the Lambs in 1988 and 1991, respectively.
Hawn, meanwhile, took home the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress for Cactus Flower in 1969 when she was 24, and was nominated again in 1980 for Private Benjamin.
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But more often than not in Hollywood, rising child stars fade away as they age. In 1999 for instance, Haley Joel Osment appeared to be the hottest young actor in town, and was nominated for an Oscar for The Sixth Sense at the age of 11. While he later found success with roles in A.I. Artificial Intelligence and Pay It Forward, his work has never reached the same level of critical acclaim.
And Osment is far from alone. Macaulay Culkin, Jonathan Lipnicki, Lindsay Lohan, Amanda Bynes and many other promising young talents found themselves lauded with critical praise in their youth, only to struggle to live up to expectations later in life.
While Ronan hardly fell off the map after Atonement, earning positive reviews for her performances in City of Ember, Lovely Bones and The Grand Budapest Hotel, her Oscar nomination is a clear validation of her staying power.