Best Supporting Actor Oscar winners: Who holds the record for the longest performance at one hour plus?

It is certainly not unusual for a long performance to win a Best Supporting Actor Oscar. The average screen time among winners in the category is 33 minutes and 45 seconds, and several even longer ones have been victorious in the past decade. However, awarding longer supporting male performances is not a recent trend. Here is a look at the 10 longest winners of all time. (And here’s the list of the 10 shortest winning performances for Best Supporting Actor.)

10. Walter Huston (“The Treasure of the Sierra Madre”)
55 minutes, 3 seconds (43.68% of the film)
On his fourth and final nomination in 1949, Walter Huston won his only Oscar for playing a wise, old prospector simply known as Howard. He broke the record for longest Best Supporting Actor-winning performance and held it for 16 years. His other nominated supporting role in “Yankee Doodle Dandy” is notably shorter (24 minutes, 20 seconds), as is his Best Actor-nominated performance in “The Devil and Daniel Webster” (20 minutes, 41 seconds).

9. Brad Pitt (“Once Upon a Time in Hollywood”)
55 minutes, 12 seconds (34.21% of the film)
Like Huston, Brad Pitt also scored his first acting win on his fourth nomination. His portrayal of 1960s Hollywood stuntman Cliff Booth brought him numerous accolades, but brought controversy as well. Though Cliff is, by profession, a sidekick, many viewers realized that he has enough scenes and screen time of his own to be considered a lead character. Indeed, nearly every nominee in the 2020 Best Supporting Actor lineup (with an average screen time of 50 minutes and 32 seconds) was the subject of category fraud debate.

8. Walter Matthau (“The Fortune Cookie”)
56 minutes, 14 seconds (44.77% of the film)
Matthau won his only Academy Award for his first of three pairings with Jack Lemmon under the direction of Billy Wilder. As shifty lawyer Willie Gingrich, he triumphed at the 1967 Oscars, most notably over George Segal in “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” Segal’s performance is just 33 seconds longer than Matthau’s, and the two of them stood high above the other three nominees, whose screen time totals fall between 14 and 23 minutes.

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7. Peter Ustinov (“Topkapi”)
56 minutes, 30 seconds (47.25% of the film)
Four years after his first win for “Spartacus,” Ustinov won a second Best Supporting Actor Oscar in 1965 for his role as hapless burglar Arthur Simpson. Ustinov broke the record set by Huston for longest winning performance in the category and boasted close to ten more minutes of screen time than the year’s Best Actress winner, Julie Andrews (“Mary Poppins”).

6. Christopher Walken (“The Deer Hunter”)
1 hour, 0 minutes, 5 seconds (32.77% of the film)
At the time of his win in 1979, Christopher Walken was only the second actor to win a Best Supporting Actor Oscar with over one hour of screen time. The film’s 184-minute running time makes Walken’s actual percentage appear modest, but his performance as traumatized Vietnam veteran Nick Chevotarevich was still the longest nominated in the supporting categories that year and one of the longest of the decade.

5. Jack Albertson (“The Subject Was Roses”)
1 hour, 3 minutes, 20 seconds (58.59% of the film)
Albertson’s only Oscar win for his role as ornery husband and father John Cleary instantly became a multi-record-breaking achievement. The performance was the first with over one hour of screen time to triumph in the Best Supporting Actor category, after six previous others failed to earn wins. It also held the record for longest winning performance in the category for 12 years, and still holds the record in terms of percentage. Additionally, the 1969 supporting males became the first group in the category’s history to all have at least 30 minutes of screen time.

4. Haing S. Ngor (“The Killing Fields”)
1 hour, 3 minutes, 29 seconds (44.79% of the film)
Amateur actor Ngor brought real-life experience to his 1984 debut role as Dith Pran, a photojournalist who, like Ngor, survived the Cambodian genocide. His high amount of screen time is in fact six minutes and five seconds greater than that of Sam Waterston, his Best Actor-nominated co-star. Such cases are extremely rare, only occurring 4% of the time since the introduction of the supporting categories in 1937.

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3. Timothy Hutton (“Ordinary People”)
1 hour, 5 minutes, 4 seconds (52.49% of the film)
In 1981, 20-year-old Hutton became the fifth actor to break the record for longest winning performance in the supporting male category, and he would hold it for 32 years – longer than anyone else has. As depressed teenager Conrad Jarrett, Hutton’s screen time total towers over those of his co-stars, with both Donald Sutherland and Best Actress nominee Mary Tyler Moore having between 32 and 37 minutes each. Hutton directly competed against Judd Hirsch, whose role adds up to 18 minutes and 23 seconds. Their difference in screen time is the largest to ever exist between two nominated supporting male performances from the same film.

2. Christoph Waltz (“Django Unchained”)
1 hour, 6 minutes, 17 seconds (40.12% of the film)
Over three decades after Hutton set a seemingly unbreakable record for performance length in the Best Supporting Actor category, Waltz bested it by over a minute with his second win in 2013. His role as abolition era bounty hunter Dr. King Schultz is 26 minutes longer than his previous winning role in “Inglourious Basterds” and arguably belonged in the leading category. 2013 also marked the fourth and most recent time that two actors with over one hour of screen time competed against each other in a supporting category, the other being Philip Seymour Hoffman, who had one hour, five minutes, and 11 seconds of screen time in “The Master.”

1. Mahershala Ali (“Green Book”)
1 hour, 6 minutes, 38 seconds (51.28% of the film)
Like Waltz, Ali won a second Best Supporting Actor Oscar just a few years after his first (for 2016’s “Moonlight”), and his second winning performance stands out as the much longer one. The 2019 supporting male lineup included, for the first time ever, two performances with less than ten minutes of screen time (Sam Elliott in “A Star Is Born” and Sam Rockwell in “Vice”) but the voters went for Ali’s unusually lengthy portrayal of dignified pianist Don Shirley instead. Ali has only held the record for longest winning performance in the category for less than two years, and recent academy voting trends signal that he may not hold it for much longer.




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