Judging by recent winners, the Best Actress Oscar category is the only acting one in which voters do not have a clear performance length preference. Over the last decade, women with the first or second highest screen times in their lineups have won just as often as those with the first or second lowest amounts, and two wins have gone to those who have fallen in the middle. Nonetheless, since Olivia Colman triumphed for her relatively short performance in “The Favourite” in 2019, the award has only been won by actresses who cross the 80 minute and 74% marks, which seems to indicate increasing favor toward larger lead female roles.
In 2020, Renée Zellweger triumphed here for her work in “Judy,” which amounts to one hour, 27 minutes, and 29 seconds, or 74.01% of the film. She was followed last year by Frances McDormand, whose performance in “Nomadland” is six minutes and 33 seconds shorter but 1.20% longer. She and her 2021 competitors boasted the 21st highest screen time average in the category’s history, and this year’s group rank even higher on that list.
The 2022 Best Actress nominees have an average screen time of one hour, 23 minutes, and eight seconds, or 66.92% of their respective films. In terms of actual time, their average is the third highest ever, behind only those of the 1969 and 1956 nominees. Their percentage average ranks as the eighth highest. This group of lead actresses are also the fifth to all hit the one hour mark after those from 1953, 1956, 1993, and 2016.
This is the 29th time in 94 years that the lead actresses have had a higher average than the same year’s lead actors, with the current lineup of men coming up short by 15 minutes and five seconds (or 13.46%). The last 10 winners of this award have had an average screen time of one hour, eight minutes, and 51 seconds (or 61.47%).
Colman currently sits slightly below said decade average with one hour, eight minutes, and eight seconds of screen time in “The Lost Daughter,” which amounts to 55.41% of the film. In terms of percentage, hers is the fifth longest performance to be the shortest in a Best Actress lineup, after those of winners Anna Magnani (“The Rose Tattoo,” 1956) and Shirley Booth (“Come Back, Little Sheba,” 1953) and nominees Ruth Chatterton (“Sarah and Son,” 1930) and Lynn Fontanne (“The Guardsman,” 1932). It would rank within the top 58% of longest winning performances in the category by either metric.
Next is Kristen Stewart, who appears in one hour, 18 minutes, and 15 seconds (or 67.03%) of “Spencer.” She is the only acting contender this year whose film is not nominated in any other categories. In general, the last lone acting nominee to pull off a win was Julianne Moore, who bagged the 2015 Best Actress trophy for “Still Alice” with only two minutes and 53 seconds more time on screen than Stewart has in “Spencer.”
In the middle slot is Nicole Kidman, whose nomination for her one hour, 23 minutes, and 55 seconds of work in “Being the Ricardos” is her fourth in this category. Her previously recognized performances all fall under 65 minutes, with her 23-minute, 30-second one in “The Hours” (2003) being the third shortest to win this award and the eighth shortest to ever contend for it. Her role in “Being the Ricardos” takes up 63.52% of the film, which, in that regard, puts her in second place and Stewart in the middle.
Next is Penélope Cruz, whose performance in “Parallel Mothers” adds up to one hour, 28 minutes, and 40 seconds, or 72.19% of the film. She was nominated here once before for appearing in one hour, 12 minutes, and 50 seconds of “Volver.” Hers was the highest screen time total in that lineup by over 17 minutes, with her competitors’ times averaging out to 44 minutes and 13 seconds. At 14 minutes and 29 seconds, her Best Supporting Actress-winning performance in “Vicky Cristina Barcelona” (2009) ranks as the eighth shortest to take that award.
The lead female nominee with the most screen time this year is Jessica Chastain, who earned her second bid in this category for her one hour, 36 minutes, and 42 seconds of work in “The Eyes of Tammy Faye.” Her role amounts to 76.45% of the film’s running time, making it the longest to be nominated for an Oscar this year by either metric. It is the 23rd lengthiest performance ever recognized here, as well as the 52nd longest by percentage. The only three actresses who have scored bids with more actual time over the past three decades are Isabelle Huppert (“Elle,” 2017), Reese Witherspoon (“Wild,” 2015), and Yalitza Aparicio (“Roma,” 2019).
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