Which Supporting Actress Oscar nominees had more screen time than the nominated leads?

Two years after John Ireland (“All the King’s Men”) became the first supporting Oscar nominee to deliver a longer performance than a lead nominee from the same film (Broderick Crawford) in 1949, Kim Hunter (“A Streetcar Named Desire”) did the same versus Marlon Brando. Since then, nine more Best Supporting Actress nominees have had higher screen time totals than a co-star nominated in a lead rce. Here is a look at each instance, in order from lowest screen time difference to highest.

1961: Mary Ure (“Sons and Lovers”) – 21 minutes, 4 seconds
0 minutes, 50 seconds over Trevor Howard (20 minutes, 14 seconds)
Although she is absent from nearly all of the first half of “Sons and Lovers,” Ure still manages to appear in over 20% of the film. Up to that point, less than half of all Best Supporting Actress-nominated performances had reached that mark. Howard’s performance, on the other hand, did not reach that percentage, but he received a lead nomination regardless. She lost to Shirley Jones (“Elmer Gantry” – 14:09).

1952: Kim Hunter (“A Streetcar Named Desire”) – 44 minutes, 52 seconds
0 minutes, 59 seconds over Marlon Brando (43 minutes, 53 seconds)
When she won for her portrayal of Stella Kowalski, Hunter became the first woman to achieve this feat, and she remains the only person to achieve another. That is, of the 15 films that have earned at least one nomination in each of the four acting categories, “A Streetcar Named Desire” is the only one in which a supporting actor gives a longer performance than a lead.

2014: Julia Roberts (“August: Osage County”) – 56 minutes, 15 seconds
3 minutes, 7 seconds over Meryl Streep (53 minutes, 8 seconds)
Five years before “August: Osage County” was a film, it was a play that garnered seven Tony nominations, including two for Best Leading Actress. Though Violet and Barbara Weston were both treated as lead characters at the Tonys, they were separated at the Oscars, with Roberts going supporting despite giving the longer performance as Barbara. Streep originally ran for the supporting slot instead, but swapped places with Roberts a few weeks into the awards campaign. Roberts lost to Lupita Nyong’o (“12 Years a Slave” – 22:30).

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1986: Meg Tilly (“Agnes of God”) – 37 minutes, 0 seconds
3 minutes, 34 seconds over Anne Bancroft (33 minutes, 26 seconds)
As a novice nun and a mother superior, Tilly and Bancroft give performances of almost equal length in “Agnes of God,” but did not compete against each other. Although Jane Fonda missed out on a nomination for the same film, Tilly and Bancroft’s screen times both fall over 21 minutes below hers. In the 34 years since, only five actresses with less screen time than Bancroft have been nominated in the lead category, the most recent being Meryl Streep for “The Devil Wears Prada” in 2007. Tilly lost to Anjelica Huston (“Prizzi’s Honor” – 17:56).

2003: Julianne Moore (“The Hours”) – 27 minutes, 41 seconds
4 minutes, 11 seconds over Nicole Kidman (23 minutes, 30 seconds)
The plot of “The Hours” weaves three stories into one, as three women in three different time periods go about a day in each of their lives. The three actresses (Kidman, Moore, and Meryl Streep) have an average screen time of 27 minutes and 54 seconds. Only Moore, who has the middle amount, was campaigned as a supporting actress. She may have been given a lead push, however, if she had not been seeking a lead nomination for “Far from Heaven” that same year. She lost to Catherine Zeta-Jones (“Chicago” – 29:55).

1978: Leslie Browne (“The Turning Point”) – 44 minutes, 33 seconds
4 minutes, 51 seconds over Anne Bancroft (39 minutes, 42 seconds)
Eight years before “Agnes of God,” Anne Bancroft first placed on this list for another instance in which she was nominated as a lead but a younger supporting actress surpassed her screen time. She also came close with a previous Best Actress nomination for “The Graduate” in 1968, having just six minutes and 26 seconds more screen time than Best Supporting Actress nominee Katharine Ross. Browne lost to Vanessa Redgrave (“Julia” – 17:45).

2016: Rooney Mara (“Carol”) – 1 hour, 10 minutes, 37 seconds
5 minutes, 52 seconds over Cate Blanchett (1 hour, 4 minutes, 45 seconds)
At over 70 minutes, Mara’s performance in “Carol” is the second-longest ever nominated for the Best Supporting Actress award. Her supporting placement sparked major category fraud debate, and even claims of LGBT bias, with the separation of her and Blanchett being reminiscent of Jake Gyllenhaal and Heath Ledger’s different category placements for “Brokeback Mountain” 10 years earlier. Mara lost to Alicia Vikander (“The Danish Girl” – 59:37).

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2019: Emma Stone (“The Favourite”) – 57 minutes, 20 seconds
7 minutes, 32 seconds over Olivia Colman (49 minutes, 48 seconds)
“The Favourite,” like “The Hours,” features three main female characters, but this time, the one with the middle amount of screen time was the only one campaigned as a lead. The LGBT couple bias that may have affected “Carol” does not exactly apply here, since the story concerns a romantic triangle. This placement variation, which was clearly not based on screen time, was simply a successful strategy to ensure all three actresses received nominations. Stone lost to Regina King (“If Beale Street Could Talk” – 25:10).

2011: Hailee Steinfeld (“True Grit”) – 1 hour, 0 minutes, 21 seconds
10 minutes, 38 seconds over Jeff Bridges (49 minutes, 43 seconds)
At age 14, Steinfeld became the 14th and most recent child to be nominated for the Best Supporting Actress Oscar. Although the film follows her character’s pursuit of justice for the killing of her father, hers was deemed a supporting role, while Bridges took a Best Actor slot. Bridges’s role had previously brought John Wayne a win four decades earlier, for a performance that is over 21 minutes (and 10%) longer. Steinfeld lost to Melissa Leo (“The Fighter” – 25:15).

1958: Diane Varsi (“Peyton Place”) – 55 minutes, 22 seconds
11 minutes, 31 seconds over Lana Turner (43 minutes, 51 seconds)
Like Timothy Hutton (“Ordinary People”), who tops the male version of this list, Varsi was 19 years old during the filming of her debut performance in “Peyton Place,” and was also treated as a child actor by Oscar voters. Turner, who plays the role of Varsi’s character’s mother, was placed in the lead category alone, based in large part on the industry status she had developed in her 20-year career up to that point. Varsi lost to Miyoshi Umeki (“Sayonara” – 16:02).



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