At 65 years old, Annette Bening has this physical status:
Bening began her career on stage with the Colorado Shakespeare Festival company in 1980, and appeared in plays at the San Diego Repertory Theatre. She was a member of the acting company at the American Conservatory Theater in San Francisco while studying acting as part of the Advanced Theatre Training Program. There, she starred in such productions as Shakespeare's Macbeth as Lady Macbeth. Bening also starred in productions of Pygmalion and The Cherry Orchard at the Denver Center Theatre Company during the 1985–86 season. She made her Broadway debut in 1987, garnering a Tony Award nomination for Best Featured Actress in a Play and receiving a Theatre World Award for her performance in Coastal Disturbances. Bening made her film debut in The Great Outdoors (1988), starring Dan Aykroyd and John Candy. Her next role was as the Marquise de Merteuil in Valmont (1989) opposite Colin Firth.
She made her breakout role in The Grifters (1990), in which she was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress. In 1991, she portrayed Virginia Hill in Barry Levinson's biopic Bugsy, alongside Warren Beatty. Bening co-starred with Harrison Ford in Regarding Henry. In 1994, Bening and Beatty starred together again, in Love Affair. In 1995, Bening played a leading role in The American President, with Michael Douglas, a role she followed with Tim Burton's sci-fi spoof Mars Attacks! (1996), and The Siege (1998), a thriller with Denzel Washington and Bruce Willis. She starred in Sam Mendes' directorial debut film American Beauty (1999). The film won five Academy Awards, including for Best Picture. For her performance as the materialistic wife Carolyn Burnham, she was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actress and won the Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role. Bening starred in other films, including In Dreams (1999) and What Planet Are You From? (2000).
In 1999, Bening returned to the stage for the first time in 10 years playing the title role in Hedda Gabler at the Geffen Playhouse in Los Angeles. The Los Angeles Times praised her performance saying "Bening uses her vocal instrument to fine effect, without throwing it around... In the movies you don't always hear what Bening can do with that voice, especially when she's playing virtuous, "sensible" types... But Ibsen's antiheroine—thwarted sensualist, a woman wrestling with her inner troll, belle of a ball that never comes—is neither virtuous nor sensible. She's no easy-to-read villain, either, nor a mere vindictive brat, though plenty of actresses have reduced her thus. Bening lays into the venomous sarcasm mighty heavily, but she's cagey enough to avoid reductive extremes."
Bening played Sue Barlow in Open Range (2003). She played the title role in Being Julia (2004), in which she won a Golden Globe, NBR Best Actress, was a runner-up for NYFCC and was nominated by SAG and for the Academy Award for her performance. She was nominated for a Primetime Emmy Award for her role of Jean Harris the 2005 HBO film Mrs. Harris. She replaced Julianne Moore and starred in the film adaptation of Running with Scissors (2006), for which she was nominated for a Golden Globe. Bening starred in The Women (2008) remake. In 2009, Bening starred in a new interpretation of the Euripides classic Medea at UCLA's Freud Playhouse. She received positive reviews for her performance in the independent film Mother and Child (2009).
In 2010, she starred in The Female of the Species, Joanna Murray-Smith's comedy, at the Geffen Playhouse in Los Angeles. Later that year, Bening received critical acclaim for her performance in The Kids Are All Right; a reviewer said that she "deserves an Oscar" and another praised her "sublime" performance. For her role Bening won a Golden Globe, NYFFC Best Actress, and was runner-up for a NSFC award. She was also nominated for a SAG award, a BAFTA award, and for the Academy Award for the performance.
In 2012, Bening's audiobook recording of Virginia Woolf's Mrs. Dalloway was released at Audible.com. In 2014, she starred in Shakespeare's King Lear at the Delacorte Theater in Central Park, as part of the Public Theatre's Free Shakespeare in the Park. It marked her first New York stage appearance in twenty years. Bening starred in Dan Fogelman's 2015 American comedy drama, Danny Collins, with Al Pacino. In 2016, Bening starred in Mike Mills's comedy drama 20th Century Women alongside Elle Fanning, Greta Gerwig, and Billy Crudup. She earned a Golden Globe nomination for her performance In 2017, she appeared in Film Stars Don't Die in Liverpool as Gloria Grahame alongside Jamie Bell, Vanessa Redgrave, and Julie Walters. She was nominated for a BAFTA Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role for her performance.
In 2019, Bening returned to the Broadway stage after a 32-year absence. She starred in the revival of Arthur Miller's All My Sons alongside Tracy Letts at the Roundabout Theatre Company's American Airlines Theatre. The play opened on April 4, 2019, and closed on June 23, 2019.
She serves as Vice Chair on the board of trustees for The Actors Fund.