When Joaquin Phoenix won an Oscar for “Joker” in 2020, his became the fifth longest to ever win Best Actor and third longest in terms of percentage. However, 28 even longer performances had been nominated in the category over the preceding nine decades, with several coming close to or passing two hours of screen time. Here is a look at the 10 nominees with the highest screen times (and here are the 10 shortest nominated performances):
10. Peter O’Toole (“Goodbye, Mr. Chips”)
1 hour, 51 minutes, 40 seconds (72.26% of the film)
Since 2007, O’Toole has been the sole record-holder for most acting Oscar nominations without a win. His fourth of eight unsuccessful Best Actor bids came in 1970 for playing benevolent schoolteacher Arthur Chipping. 30 years earlier, Robert Donat won the award for playing the same character in an adaptation of the story that is more dramatic compared to this 40-minute-longer musical version. O’Toole lost to John Wayne, whose screen time in “True Grit” totals one hour, 10 minutes, and 47 seconds.
9. Daniel Day-Lewis (“There Will Be Blood”)
1 hour, 57 minutes, 0 seconds (73.93% of the film)
Nearly two decades after his first Oscar win, Day-Lewis brought home a second Best Actor trophy in 2008 for his performance as oil tycoon Daniel Plainview. It remains the longest of his six nominated performances in the category by over 30 minutes, with his other two winning turns in 1989’s “My Left Foot” and 2012’s “Lincoln” both falling below 78 minutes. His three wins have been for a combined screen time total of four hours, four minutes, and 16 seconds, which is the highest among people who have won multiple acting Oscars.
8. Will Smith (“Ali”)
1 hour, 57 minutes, 22 seconds (74.97% of the film)
In 2002, Smith’s portrayal of boxing legend Muhammad Ali brought him his first of two Best Actor nominations. The year marked the first time that two Black actors competed against each other in the category, with Denzel Washington winning the award for his one-hour, 13-minute, and 16-second performance in “Training Day.” Smith was later involved in another similar situation when his second bid for “The Pursuit of Happyness” resulted in a loss to Forest Whitaker (“The Last King of Scotland”).
7. Leonardo DiCaprio (“The Aviator”)
1 hour, 57 minutes, 46 seconds (69.29% of the film)
DiCaprio earned his first of four Best Actor nominations in 2005 for his role as notoriously eccentric business magnate Howard Hughes. He was the second actor to be nominated for playing Hughes, after Jason Robards was recognized in the supporting category for his 14 minutes and 19 seconds of screen time in 1980’s “Melvin and Howard.” He was defeated by Jamie Foxx, who took home the prize for his own relatively long performance (one hour, 39 minutes, and 35 seconds) as Ray Charles in “Ray.”
6. Tom Hanks (“Cast Away”)
1 hour, 58 minutes, 15 seconds (82.29% of the film)
In 2001, Hanks garnered his fifth and most recent lead acting nomination for playing plane crash survivor Chuck Noland. His high percentage of screen time is attributed to the fact that over 55% of the film follows his character’s harrowing experience as he attempts to live on his own on a desert island. Hanks had previously won the award twice (for “Philadelphia” in 1994 and “Forrest Gump” in 1995) but lost this time to Russell Crowe, who appears in one hour and 12 minutes of the year’s Best Picture winner, “Gladiator.”
5. Charlton Heston (“Ben-Hur”)
2 hours, 1 minute, 23 seconds (54.54% of the film)
In 1960, “Ben-Hur” won a record 11 Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Actor for Heston’s portrayal of the titular character. By appearing in over half of the 212-minute epic, he set a still impenetrable record for longest winning performance in the category, and was the first male actor to be nominated for over two hours of screen time. Though it proved to be Heston’s only nomination, he does hold the distinction of having the highest screen time total among male one-time nominees.
4. Anthony Hopkins (“Nixon”)
2 hours, 4 minutes, 10 seconds (64.90% of the film)
While Hopkins’s performance in “The Silence of the Lambs” is one of the ten shortest ever nominated for Best Actor, his turn as U.S. President Richard Nixon is one of the ten longest, which currently makes him the only actor to be simultaneously included on both lists in any category. He outpaced all of his competitors by over 18 minutes and ended up losing to Nicolas Cage, whose performance in “Leaving Las Vegas” is nearly an hour shorter at one hour, six minutes, and 27 seconds.
3. Peter O’Toole (“Lawrence of Arabia”)
2 hours, 13 minutes, 13 seconds (58.72% of the film)
O’Toole earned his first of two spots on this list when his portrayal of T. E. Lawrence in the 1963 Best Picture winner brought him his first nomination. Though the film won Oscars in seven categories, O’Toole went home empty handed for the first of eight times after losing to Gregory Peck for his one hour and eight seconds of screen time as Atticus Finch in “To Kill a Mockingbird.” 40 years later, Peck triumphed over him a second time when the American Film Institute named his Finch the greatest screen hero of all time, while Lawrence placed 10th.
2. Leonardo DiCaprio (“The Wolf of Wall Street”)
2 hours, 21 minutes, 7 seconds (78.54% of the film)
Like Peter O’Toole, DiCaprio also has two entries on this list, but, chronologically, his second qualifying performance is longer than his first. As unscrupulous stockbroker Jordan Belfort, he dominates most of his film’s running time and came within a minute of topping this list. He lost the Oscar to Matthew McConaughey, who clocks in at one hour, 30 minutes, and 40 seconds in “Dallas Buyers Club.” McConaughey is one of only 26 lead winners to pass 90 minutes, but his screen time pales in comparison to DiCaprio’s massive amount.
1. Denzel Washington (“Malcolm X”)
2 hours, 21 minutes, 58 seconds (70.49% of the film)
Three years after winning Best Supporting Actor for “Glory,” Washington received his first lead nomination in 1993 for his role as the titular civil rights leader. Though he lost to Al Pacino, who appears in one hour, 35 minutes, and 48 seconds of “Scent of a Woman,” he broke O’Toole’s 30-year screen time record and has held it for almost as long. To date, he has eight acting nominations to his name, and his nominated performances add up to 10 hours, 43 minutes, and nine seconds of screen time. The only male actors with higher totals are 12-time nominee Jack Nicholson and 10-time nominee Laurence Olivier.
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