The race for the Oscars has officially kicked off and in a surprise twist, film veterans are leading the way ahead of their younger counterparts.

Meryl Streep is earmarked to walk away with the Best Actress award - potentially her third Oscar - for her portrayal of Margaret Thatcher in The Iron lady.

The 62-year-old American actress has already been celebrated for delivering a stunning performance in the film that recalls the life of the former British prime minister.

Seasoned actress Glenn Close, 64, known famously for playing deranged stalker Alex Forrest in Fatal Attraction, is also in the running for Best Actress for her role as Albert Nobbs in the film of the same name.

Stage veteran Woody Allen, 76, received a Best Screenplay and Best Director nominations for his film Midnight in Paris, starring Owen Wilson.

And 65-year-old director Steven Spielberg's tearjerker War Horse, based on the novel by Michael Morpurgo, is up for Best Picture.

The renowned director is competing with Oscar favourites, The Artist and Hugo as well as The Descendants, Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close, The Help ,Midnight in Paris, Moneyball and The Tree of Life for the coveted prize.

We have a look at a few of the mature Oscar contenders showing the youngsters how it's done this year.