Moviegeek5: Short Oscar Winning Performances
The Oscar for best acting (leading or supporting) mostly goes to someone who managed to get under our skin and make an impression on us. Sometimes the effect happens in short time, either a short leading performances or a very short supporting performance. The line between lead and support is and always has been a blurry one in the Academy’s eyes, and a lot of calculation goes in to whether or not a role is promoted as leading or supporting.
We have collected five movies for which Oscars were given for performances that all had less than 30 minutes of screen time.
Share you thoughts below and let us know which short Oscar winning performances you find particularly memorable.
The record for the shortest performance to win an Oscar is still held by Beatrice Straight who won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress with a screen time of astonishing five minutes and two seconds. The short amount of screen time pushes the lines of even the rather flexible “supporting acting” categories, and while Straight as the wife of William Holden’s unfaithful TV executive delivers one of the most memorable moments of the film, there isn’t much material here for the Academy to judge from. The Academy member must have really loved what they saw in those few moments.
Shakespeare in Love (1998)
The second entry on our list also happens to be the second shortest performance to win. Many were almost outraged when Dame Judi Dench won for Best Supporting Actress over the likes of Brenda Blethyn in Little Voices and Lynn Redgrave in Gods and Monsters for her part as Queen Elizabeth I and only about six minutes screen time. But watching the movie today, there is no doubt that Dench manage to make a great impact in her only four scenes and even with so little time, she makes her character intimidating and royal as only few can.
The Hours (2002)
NIcole Kidman’s performance in The Hours pushes someone with less screen time of the list (incredible but true, Anthony Hopkins only had about 16 minutes of screen time the first time he played his most famous role in Silence of the Lambs), but Kidman’s take on the tragic Virginia Wolf stands out by being not a supporting character but a lead and she won the Oscar for Best Actress. Causing jokes about how making yourself ugly leads to critical acclaim an almost unrecognizable Kidman impressed as she with a prosthetic nose portrayed the British depression-suffering author in a story based on Michael Cunningham’s bestseller novel.
Les Misérables (2012)
Victor Hugo’s epic story has been adapted into movie several times but this 2012 production added the hit songs of Boublil and Schönberg’s 1980s musical as well as a big budget and an ensemble cast. The result is this lavish emotional roller coast of an epic movie, perfectly matching the tragic tale written by Hugo. Anne Hathaway’s part as Fantine only had 15 minutes of screen time but after watching her heartbreaking and powerful version of ‘I Dreamed A Dream’ you just know you just watch an Oscar winning performance. From angelic and sad she moves on to shatter every emotion in your body as she bellows out her pain and it is just mind blowing.
Dallas Buyers Club (2013)
Did Matthew McConaughey win an Oscar for this? Yes he did. Yet changes are, that when you left the cinema after watching this strong biographical drama, you were talking about Jared Leto. In just 21 minutes he made such an impact, that you will find yourself asking ‘Did he not appear in almost every scene?’. Because Leto’s committed and emotional performance as Rayon makes such a great impact that it even overshadows that of poor McConaughey and he gave a performance of a life time. It is performances like this that makes you sorry Leto puts most of his focus on his music, because this man can act! In this case he creates a character you feel and believe and who stays with you long after the movie is finished.