Which Best Actor Oscar nominee has the longest (and shortest) screen time?

A hefty majority of recent Best Actor Oscar winners have been honored for relatively long performances, with nine of the last 10 having clocked in with over 77 minutes of screen time. Over the last 10 years, the Academy had several opportunities to award lead male performances that fell under the one hour mark (as they had dozens of times over previous decades), but their clear preference toward lengthier roles always carried over. This year, multiple actors who don’t hit the 60-minute threshold are nominated, and they will probably meet the same fate as their predecessors.

Will Smith took the 2022 Best Actor prize for his one hour, 30 minutes, and 10 seconds of work as Richard Williams in “King Richard,” which constitutes 62.33% of the film. His is the 18th longest of the 95 performances ever honored in this category. He was immediately preceded by “The Father” star Anthony Hopkins, who came closer than any lead male winner since 2012 has to appearing on screen for less than one hour (specifically, one hour, five minutes, and 14 seconds). Jean Dujardin (“The Artist”; 58 minutes and 15 seconds) remains the last champ to not hit the 60-minute mark.

The 2023 Best Actor nominees have an average screen time of one hour, 10 minutes, and 43 seconds, or 59.15% of their films. These averages are higher than those of the 2022 contenders by two minutes and 40 seconds and 5.69%. The last 10 winners of this award have had a screen time average of one hour, 27 minutes, and eight seconds (or 67.33%).

The current Best Actor contender with the most screen time is Austin Butler, whose portrayal of Elvis Presley in “Elvis” lasts for one hour, 35 minutes, and 34 seconds (or 60.01% of the film). Less than 13% of the hundreds of performances that have ever been nominated for this award are longer than his, and the same applies to only about 13% of the category’s winners. The only longer performance that has been recognized here within the past five years is that of 2020 victor Joaquin Phoenix (“Joker”), which amounts to one hour, 43 minutes, and 44 seconds.

Butler technically ranks in the middle of the lineup in terms of percentage, with a 10.14% smaller presence in his film than Brendan Fraser has in “The Whale.” Fraser is in second place by actual screen time, with a total of one hour, 21 minutes, and 57 seconds. Almost exactly one quarter of all Best Actor nominees have, like him, appeared in at least 70% of their films, and the same is true of 20 past winners.

In the middle of the bunch by actual screen time but in second place by percentage is Colin Farrell, who appears in one hour, nine minutes, and 26 seconds (or 60.96%) of “The Banshees of Inisherin.” His film received the same acting nominations as last year’s “The Power of the Dog,” with one each for Best Actor and Best Supporting Actress (Kerry Condon) and two for Best Supporting Actor (Brendan Gleeson and Barry Keoghan). This situation is different, however, in that Farrell outpaces his featured cast mates by at least 34 minutes, whereas Benedict Cumberbatch dominated by a significantly smaller margin of 22 minutes.

Next is Paul Mescal, whose screen time in “Aftersun” adds up to 58 minutes and 14 seconds (or 57.26%). His costar, Frankie Corio, outpacing him by nearly four minutes makes him one of the few Best Actor nominees to not have the most screen time in his film. Since the turn of the century, only 23 other actors have achieved academy recognition for performances that are under one hour in length. Before Dujardin, the last winner of this kind was Forest Whitaker with 42 minutes and 34 seconds in “The Last King of Scotland” (2007).

The lead male nominee with the least screen time this year is Bill Nighy, whose 48-minute and 25-second role in “Living” takes up 47.36% of the film. In terms of actual time, it falls within the shortest 20% of performances ever nominated for this award and would be the 19th shortest to take the gold. The only actors with less screen time who vied for this prize within the last decade were Denzel Washington (“The Tragedy of Macbeth”; 43 minutes and 36 seconds) and Chadwick Boseman (“Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom”; 44 minutes and seven seconds).

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