Hollywood can seem like a place that prizes youth, but tonight the Academy celebrated a number of its oldest members with awards, nominations, and spots of honor in the ceremony.
The big win of the night went to the 89-year-old James Ivory, who won the Best Adapted Screenplay award for his work on Call Me by Your Name, which he adapted from André Aciman’s 2007 novel.
Ivory has been nominated for three Oscars before, all in the Best Director category, for The Remains of the Day in 1994, Howard’s End in 1993, and A Room With a View in 1987. All three of those films are also adaptations of novels, but Ivory directed them from adaptations by other screenwriters (all were nominated for Oscars, and the latter two won).
Though Ivory has written films before, he’s best known for his work as a director and as a principal in Merchant Ivory Productions, which he formed with producer Ismail Merchant in 1961. Merchant and Ivory were partners both romantically and professionally for 44 years, until Merchant died in 2005.
Ivory had intended to co-direct Call Me by Your Name with Luca Guadagnino but bowed out when the producers thought a single director would be better. But his win for the screenplay feels especially sweet, a worthy accolade at the end of a long career. (He accepted the award wearing a shirt with Call Me by Your Name star Timothée Chalamet’s face on it.)
It was a good year overall for older actors and directors at the Oscars. Agnès Varda was nominated for Best Documentary Feature for her film Faces Places, which she co-directed with French artist JR. In November 2017, she was presented with an honorary Oscar for her life’s work by the Academy’s Board of Governors. Varda, a filmmaking legend who was instrumental in the development of the French New Wave, is 89 — nine days older than Ivory.
These Oscars also had the oldest nominee for an acting award ever — Christopher Plummer, whose Best Supporting Actor nomination for his work in All the Money in the World at 87 put him in rarefied company. Plummer was swapped into the film late in the film’s shoot, after Kevin Spacey was removed following allegations of sexual assault, and he’s the best part of the film.
Two other Oscar legends were part of the ceremony as well. Rita Moreno, who is 86, showed up to present the Best Foreign Language Feature award in the same dress she wore to the ceremony in 1962, when she won the Best Supporting Actress award for West Side Story. And at 93, Eva Marie Saint presented the award for Best Costume Design. Saint won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress in 1955 for her performance in On the Waterfront.