Shortest performance to get an Oscar

Last night I finally got around to watching “Little Miss Sunshine”. I knew that Arkin had won an Oscar for his role.

I was certain he wasn’t going to actually be dead when they were at the hospital. I mean, he was in like four scenes.

So, that got me wondering, what was the shortest screen time in a film to get someone an Oscar?


From the IMDB, Beatrice Straight, whose “Oscar-winning role in Network (1976) lasted a mere 5 minutes and 40 seconds on screen, making her performance the briefest ever to win an acting Oscar.”

Second shortest might be Judi Dench in Shakespeare In Love.

Judy Dench in Shakepeare in Love played Elizabeth I. I think she was onscreen less than fifteen minutes and yet earned the best supporting actress nomination. I think voters were trying to make it up to her because she was nominated but didn’t win for her great performance in Mrs. Brown the previous year.

As Ms. Dench says after one courtier puts down the cloack after she’s crossed the muddy puddle, “Too late, too late!”


Not the briefest and not a winner, but Sylvia Miles nomination for Midnght Cowboy was one scene, definitely under 10 minutes.

I’ve seen her screen time calculated at eight or nine minutes.

She doesn’t have a lot of screen time, but she is distributed quite memorably throughout the movie, so it feels like she’s on screen longer than she actually is (and it helps that she steals every scene she’s in).

Straight is different in that she has, IIRC, only 2 scenes, but one’s a barn-burner with a long monologue opposite William Holden (who, as her husband, has just divulged his affair). That one scene is what won it for her.

The shortest Oscar-winning performance by a male actor was Anthony Quinn’s win as Paul Gauguin in Lust for Life, at about 9 minutes.

You can’t handle the truth.

I think Jack Nicholson only had 10 lines in A Few Good Men.
But, most of his lines were quite long.

Sortof off topic, but related to this; Jane Wyman won a Best Actress Oscar for her performance in Johnny Belinda without uttering a single line in the entire movie (she played a deaf mute). Her acceptance speech is reportedly the shortest ever given, consisting of only one sentence:

Magnificent movie, btw.

Worthless side note.

Ned Beatty was nominated for Best Supporting Actor for the same film. When asked about it on a talk show (it might have been Mike Douglas, it was so long ago) he acted amazed. He said something to the effect that he was in the studio shooting his part for only three days. Boom. Over.
So when he got the supporting actor nomination he was floored.
Too bad he didn’t get it. Then Network might have gotten two “shortest screen time” trivia bits.

Linda Hunt? :wink: