Upon earning her fifth Oscar nomination for “The Fabelmans” this year, Michelle Williams became one of the 33 most-recognized actresses in academy history. Since she has yet to win, a victory in the current lead female race would keep her from joining Irene Dunne, Deborah Kerr, Thelma Ritter, Glenn Close, and Amy Adams on the list of women with five or more unsuccessful acting bids. If screen time plays any factor in influencing voters, she may benefit from the fact that her performance stands out from the others in her lineup by being relatively short.
The three lead turns for which Williams has received Oscar nominations have a screen time average of 59 minutes and 55 seconds (or 51.43% of the respective films). She is now one of 44 women to receive multiple Best Actress notices for appearing on screen for less than one hour. When it comes to her pair of nominated supporting performances, the screen time average is 12 minutes and 44 seconds (or 9.43%).
Check out our gallery and screen time analysis of Williams’s five Oscar-nominated performances, and be sure to tune in to the 95th Academy Awards, airing Sunday, March 12 on ABC.
2023 – ‘The Fabelmans’ (Best Actress)
52 minutes, 24 seconds (34.76% of the film)
In terms of actual time on screen, Williams’s portrayal of Mitzi Fabelman (who represents writer-director Steven Spielberg’s own mother) falls within the shortest 32% of performances ever nominated for Best Actress. By percentage, it ranks within the shortest 13%. The only actresses with less physical screen time who have been recognized here over the past five years are Viola Davis (“Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom”), Charlize Theron (“Bombshell”), and Olivia Colman (“The Favourite”).
Williams’s “Fabelmans” screen time puts her more than 45 minutes below her lineup’s average, with the performance at the high end being that of Cate Blanchett in “TAR” at a whopping two hours, 15 minutes, and 15 seconds. In the middle of the group are Andrea Riseborough (“To Leslie”; one hour, 33 minutes, and four seconds), Michelle Yeoh (“Everything Everywhere All at Once”; one hour, 35 minutes, and 16 seconds), and Ana de Armas (“Blonde”; one hour, 53 minutes, and 44 seconds).
2017 – ‘Manchester by the Sea’ (Best Supporting Actress)
11 minutes, 3 seconds (8.04% of the film)
Williams’s second supporting nomination came for her brief portrayal of Randi, the ex-wife of lead character Lee Chandler (Casey Affleck) with whom he shares a particularly traumatic past experience. Her screen time was the lowest in her lineup at over 12 minutes and 10% below the average.
She lost on this outing to Viola Davis, who towered over all of her competitors with 53 minutes and 32 seconds (38.60%) of screen time in “Fences.”
2012 – ‘My Week with Marilyn’ (Best Actress)
48 minutes, 25 seconds (49.00% of the film)
Williams’s second Best Actress bid constitutes the only time she has been nominated by the academy for playing a real person – namely, classic film star Marilyn Monroe. In this case, her physical screen time was the second shortest among her competitors (at over 10 minutes below average), but her percentage put her in the middle (at 0.03% above average).
The winner in this instance was Meryl Streep, who outpaced all of her fellow nominees with one hour, 11 minutes, and 35 seconds (or 68.26%) of screen time in “The Iron Lady.”
2011 – ‘Blue Valentine’ (Best Actress)
1 hour, 18 minutes, 57 seconds (70.52% of the film)
Williams’s performance as Cindy Heller in this tale of love gone wrong remains the longest for which she has achieved academy recognition. She had the second highest amount of screen time in this lineup and ranked over 11 minutes and 5% above its average.
In this case, the academy chose to award Natalie Portman, whose screen time total of one hour, 29 minutes, and 18 seconds (or 82.67%) makes her “Black Swan” performance one of the longest to ever win Best Actress by either metric.
2006 – ‘Brokeback Mountain’ (Best Supporting Actress)
14 minutes, 25 seconds (10.81% of the film)
Williams was first recognized by the academy for her supporting performance as Alma Del Mar, a young woman who marries lead character Ennis (Heath Ledger) only to later discover that he harbors passionate feelings for another man. This time, she had the least screen time among her competitors and fell over seven minutes and 7% below their average.
She lost this race to Rachel Weisz (“The Constant Gardener”), whose screen time of exactly 30 minutes (or 23.34% of her film) made hers the second longest performance in the lineup.