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Can Saorise Ronan become the youngest best actress Oscar winner?

October 30, 2009 |  1:07 pm

Saorise Ronan The Lovely Bones

A spy tells us that Saorise Ronan is in virtually every scene of "The Lovely Bones" as the central character of this compelling story of a murdered girl, her grieving family, and her killer.

And we hear that Ronan steals the picture from everyone including Oscar champ Rachel Weisz (The Constant Gardener") and nominee Mark Wahlberg ("The Departed") as her parents, Oscar winner Susan Sarandon ("Dead Man Walking") as her grandmother and two-time Emmy victor Stanley Tucci ("Winchell," "Monk") as the murdering neighbor. All of them will compete in the supporting slots, leaving Ronan the only "Bones" star in a lofty lead Oscar race.

While her first name may be pronounced "sir-sha" to rhyme with "inertia," this 15-year-old actress is quickly climbing the Hollywood ladder. For her performance in "Atonement" two years ago, Ronan became the seventh youngest supporting actress Oscar nominee  -- she lost that race to Tilda Swinton for "Michael Clayton.

Were she to prevail for "The Lovely Bones," Ronan would become the youngest best actress champ -- the current recordholder is Marlee Matlin, who was 21 when she won for "Children of a Lesser God" in 1986. Indeed Ronan would only be the second teenager to even land a nomination in this category. The first was Keisha Castle-Hughes, who was just 13 when she earned a lead actress bid in 2003 for her performance in "Whale Rider" -- she lost to Charlize Theron for "Monster."

As he did with the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy, Peter Jackson is director, co-producer and co-writer of "The Lovely Bones." Jackson won three Oscars in 2003 for performing those same roles on the third "Ring" cycle -- "The Return of the King." Working again with his winning co-writers Fran Walsh and Phlippa Boyens, Jackson has adapted Alice Sebold's bestseller. The only concern could be that Jackson has directed just one performer -- Ian McKellen -- to an Oscar nomination. Sir Ian landed a supporting actor bid for his role as Gandalf in the first installment of "LOTR" but lost that 2001 race to Jim Broadbent for "Iris."

Photo credit: DreamWorks SKG

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