In the time since Olivia Colman won the 2019 Best Actress Oscar for appearing in 49 minutes and 48 seconds of “The Favourite,” the academy has consistently given the same award to women with much higher amounts of screen time. All of the category’s last three champions delivered performances that are over 80 minutes in length and rank among the 22 longest ever honored here. Since four of the five current Best Actress nominees hit the 93-minute mark, this trend is practically bound to continue.
Reigning Best Actress victor Jessica Chastain earned the prize for her one hour, 36 minutes, and 42 seconds of work as Tammy Faye Bakker in “The Eyes of Tammy Faye,” which amounts to 76.45% of the film. Hers is the fifth longest of the 97 performances that have won this award, after those of Vivien Leigh (“Gone with the Wind”), Barbra Streisand (“Funny Girl”), Meryl Streep (“Sophie’s Choice”), and Olivia de Havilland (“To Each His Own”). Four of the 2023 contenders could land within the top eight, which presently also includes Julia Roberts (“Erin Brockovich”), Leigh (“A Streetcar Named Desire”), and Ginger Rogers (“Kitty Foyle”).
The 2023 Best Actress nominees’ screen time average of one hour, 37 minutes, and 57 seconds is the highest in the category’s history. The previous record holders were the 1969 nominees, with one hour, 27 minutes, and 30 seconds. The new group’s percentage average of 66.88% is the ninth highest, with that record still belonging to the group from 1956 (80.59%). The last 10 winners of this award have had an average screen time of one hour, 11 minutes, and 21 seconds (or 62.29%).
The only one of this year’s lead female contenders who does not clear the 90 or even 60-minute thresholds is Michelle Williams, who appears in 52 minutes and 24 seconds (or 34.76%) of “The Fabelmans.” Her performance lands among the shortest 32% of those ever recognized in this category and ranks within the shortest 13% by percentage. It would be the 30th shortest to ever win here by the former metric and the 11th shortest by the latter.
Next is Andrea Riseborough, whose screen time in “To Leslie” amounts to one hour, 33 minutes, and four seconds. Her percentage of 77.87% is actually the second largest of the group and is higher than that of 91% of all nominees in this category’s history. Prior to this year, the last actress to earn a lead bid with a greater screen time percentage was Melissa McCarthy (“Can You Ever Forgive Me?,” 2019) with 77.99%.
In the middle of the lineup is Michelle Yeoh, whose nomination comes for her one hour, 35 minutes, and 16 seconds of work in “Everything Everywhere All at Once,” constituting 68.38% of the film. Hers is the 30th longest performance ever recognized here and could be the seventh longest to take the prize, with the one behind Chastain’s in sixth place being that of Julia Roberts in “Erin Brockovich.”
Next is Ana de Armas with one hour, 53 minutes, and 44 seconds (or 67.91%) of screen time in “Blonde.” Hers is the 16th longest performance ever nominated for an Oscar at all, with the only ones surpassing it in this category being those of Leigh (“Gone with the Wind”), Diana Ross (“Lady Sings the Blues”), Streisand, Liv Ullmann (“Face to Face”), and Judy Garland (“A Star Is Born”). Williams was previously nominated here for playing de Armas’s “Blonde” character, Marilyn Monroe, in “My Week with Marilyn,” but her performance was a full 65 minutes and 19 seconds shorter.
The lead female nominee with the most screen time this year is Cate Blanchett, who has earned her fifth bid in this category for appearing in a whopping two hours, 15 minutes, and 15 seconds of “TAR.” This makes hers the fourth longest performance ever nominated for any Oscar, after those of Leigh (“Gone with the Wind”), Denzel Washington (“Malcolm X”), and Leonardo DiCaprio (“The Wolf of Wall Street”). Aside from those three, Streisand, and Ross, the only other nominees who have hit the two-hour mark are Best Actor contenders Peter O’Toole (“Lawrence of Arabia”) and Anthony Hopkins (“Nixon”) and winner Charlton Heston (“Ben-Hur”).
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