Oldest-Ever Oscar Nominee Helps Spotlight Caregiving’s Toughest Issues

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Emmanuelle Riva celebrated her 86th birthday in singular style—by attending the Oscars as one of the year's nominees for Best Actress for her role in the film, "Amour."

Riva is officially the oldest person to ever be nominated for the holy grail of acting awards. She is a full six years older than Jessica Tandy, the woman who previously held this distinction. In 1990, Tandy snagged the trophy for her role in the movie, "Driving Miss Daisy."

Riva, who will visit Los Angeles for the first time ever to make her Oscars debut, told Reuters that she views her late-in-life nomination as "a gift," and expressed her appreciation for being able to participate in such a powerful cinematic project.

Her fellow Best Actress nominees: Jennifer Lawrence (Silver Linings Playbook), Noami Watts (The Impossible), Jessica Chastain (Zero Dark Thirty), and Quvenzhane Wallis (Beasts of the Southern Wild).

At the Cannes Film Festival, the world got a taste of Riva's genius when she assumed the role of Anne, an eighty-year-old retired music teacher living with her husband, Georges, in Paris, France.

After a stroke and subsequent botched surgery left Anne paralyzed on one side of her body, Georges pledges to be her caregiver. In response to his wife's plea not to be put in a nursing home, Georges valiantly continued to look after her, even after a second stroke further compounded her dependency on him.

The couple's daughter, Eva, urged her father to put Anne in a senior living facility, but Georges stubbornly remained true to the pledge he made to his ailing wife.

The subsequent tale, inspired by director Michael Haneke's personal experience with his elderly aunt, is one that touches on some of the toughest issues faced by family caregivers; caring for an ailing spouse, permanently altered relationships with loved ones, challenging family dynamics, impossible decisions—even assisted suicide.

"Amour" was been nominated for a total of five Academy Awards including, Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actress in a Leading Role, Best Original Screenplay and Best Foreign Language Film.

The impact of the film has been incredible. "‘Amour' is a film about love, not a film about death or illness," said Riva in a December 2012 interview in the Los Angeles Times, "Love is the essence of life; love touches all of our work. Love never leaves us. It clings to us, and we cling to it."

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