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Oscar Winners with the Shortest Amount of Screen Time

The list of nominations for the next Academy Awards ceremony were released on January 24th. The prestigious award is one of the most desired by filmmakers, actors, and anyone who works in the film industry. While the conversation about if these awards are even necessary nowadays is strong, there are many people that, even if they don’t watch the extremely long ceremony, check who won the next day.

The luxury of the Academy Awards is something that no one can deny. It seems almost impossible to choose one winner in any category, as it is highly competitive. Since 1929, when the first Academy Award ceremony happened, various actresses and actors around the world have dreamed of stepping on the stage and receiving the golden statue. However, some actors are able to stand out even from the winners. How? With how little screen time they needed to snatch their award.

It is a common misconception to think that the longer the actor is on-screen the higher their chances to win an important award. However, this hasn’t always been true. Here are some Oscar winners to take home the award despite spending less than 20 minutes on screen.

Anthony Hopkins is one of those actors that don’t require much time to convey his complicated characters. Surprisingly, Hopkins has only 16 minutes of screen time in Jonathan Demme’s Silence of The Lambs. It is safe to say that it was more than enough to convey the cannibal serial killer — and get him an Academy Award for Best Actor.

The role of Hannibal Lecter is probably one of Hopkins’s most iconic characters, and in an almost two-hour movie, he appears fairly briefly. But when he is on-screen, he’s powerful enough to make his mark on FBI rookie Clarice (Jodie Foster) and the audience alike.

With an impressive 15 minutes and 38 seconds of screen time, David Niven won the Best Actor in a Leading Role category in 1956 for his work in Separate Tables. The movie also got Wendy Hiller an Academy Award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role.

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The narrative of the film follows multiple guests in the seaside hotel of Bournemouth. Niven plays a retired Army major and others may discover that the well-to-do Englishman hides dark secrets. The movie continues to be highly praised many years later, and so is his performance.

There are actually a few Oscar winners that just hit the mark of 15 minutes of screen time. Penélope Cruz, with her role in Vicky Christina Barcelona, and Kim Basinger in L.A. Confidential, also won for the same amount that Anne Hathaway did with her phenomenal performance in Les Misérables.

The raw despair of Fantine, Hathaway’s character, singing ‘I Dream a Dream’ after pulling her teeth and cutting her hair to sell so that she would have money to send to the family that is taking care of her daughter, Cosette, is one of Hathaway’s finest performances.

Alan Arkin starred in the emotional but still comical Little Miss Sunshine. Arkin plays Edwin Hoover, the grandfather of this dysfunctional family, a man that can surprise everyone – even after his passing. In 14 minutes of screen time, the actor got his first and only Oscar, having been nominated two times before and once after his win in 2007.

There is a thoughtful sensibility displayed in all characters in the movie, but Arkin brought the care he had for his fictional granddaughter to real life. In a scene where there is some explicit foul language, the actor insisted that little Abigail listened to Kelly Clarkson’s songs so that she wouldn’t hear a word they were saying.

Gloria Grahame lowers the bar even further: she had only 9 minutes and 32 seconds of screen time in the 1952 film The Bad and the Beautiful. The movie won five Academy Awards out of six nominations, and actually holds the record for the most Oscar wins for a film which wasn’t nominated for Best Picture or Best Director. A tale that captured a specific moment in Hollywood, The Bad and the Beautiful would go on to become timeless.

Related: Best Supporting Actress Oscar Wins of the 2010s, Ranked

Grahame plays a southern belle in the midst of the tale of a reckless movie producer, Jonathan Shields (Kirk Douglas), that wants to get to the top — whatever it takes. She actually held the record for an actresses’ shortest Oscar-winning appearance in a movie for quite a while, until she was beaten two decades later.

Anthony Quinn became tied with Dame Judy Dench (for Shakespeare in Love) for the same amount of screen time: merely eight minutes. The Mexican American actor won his Academy Award for his role in a fictionalized biopic of one of the greatest painters who ever lived: Van Gogh. The 1956 production, Lust for Life, is based on the letters Van Gogh wrote to his brother. Quinn plays another painter in the movie, ...-impressionist Paul Gauguin, who meets the troubled Van Gogh and becomes his friend.

Beatrice Straight still holds the record for the shortest screen time that won an Academy Award: five minutes and 40 seconds. Less than six minutes was enough for the actress to snatch the Best Supporting Actress category for her role in Network in 1976.

What’s most impressive about it is that from those five minutes, almost four of them are a single soliloquy of her character’s mixed emotions after she finds out her husband is having an affair with a much younger woman. Straight showcased what a phenomenal actress she is in little time, becoming an example that quality can trump quantity when it comes to great acting.



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