While performances that win the Oscar for Best Actor are usually longer than those that win Best Actress, a solid amount of lengthy roles have won in the lead female category. The average screen time among Best Actress winners is one hour, four minutes, and 41 seconds, and plenty of much longer ones have triumphed. Here is a look at the 10 longest winners of all time. (And here’s the list of the 10 shortest winning performances for Best Actress.)
10. Natalie Portman (“Black Swan”)
1 hour, 29 minutes, 18 seconds (82.67% of the film)
Portman received her first Best Actress nomination and win in 2011 for her role as ballerina Nina Sayers. While nine performances with higher amounts of screen time had already won in the category, Portman’s became the one with the second-highest percentage. Hers is also one of only 25 performances ever nominated for the award with a screen time total of over 80%.
9. Julie Christie (“Darling”)
1 hour, 30 minutes, 0 seconds (70.69% of the film)
For her turn as amorous model Diana Scott, Julie Christie won her only Best Actress Oscar. While her screen time is relatively high, she did not stand far apart from her fellow nominees in 1966. Except for Simone Signoret, who delivered a 27-minute, four-second performance in “Ship of Fools,” every performance nominated in the category clocks in at least 82 minutes. Christie would go on to receive three more nominations in the category over the next four decades, all for films in which she has less than 48 minutes of screen time.
8. Sissy Spacek (“Coal Miner’s Daughter”)
1 hour, 30 minutes, 58 seconds (73.25% of the film)
From a total of six nominations, Spacek won her only Oscar for her portrayal of country music legend Loretta Lynn. With over 90 minutes of screen time, the performance ranks high above her other nominated ones, which all fall below 66 minutes. At one hour, 10 minutes, and 16 seconds, Spacek and 1981’s other acting winners (Robert De Niro, Timothy Hutton, and Mary Steenburgen) have a higher screen time average than any other year’s group of winners.
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7. Ginger Rogers (“Kitty Foyle”)
1 hour, 31 minutes, 41 seconds (85.29% of the film)
After making her name in musicals for a solid decade, Rogers was recognized by Oscar voters for playing the title character in 1940’s “Kitty Foyle.” She was one of the first five actors ever nominated for a performance with more than 90 minutes of screen time, another of whom she competed against directly (Joan Fontaine, “Rebecca”). While longer performances have prevailed in the category since, and one had already won at the time, Rogers’s remains the longest in terms of percentage.
6. Vivien Leigh (“A Streetcar Named Desire”)
1 hour, 33 minutes, 4 seconds (74.61% of the film)
Though she appeared in only 19 films, Vivien Leigh managed to garner a pair of Best Actress Oscars from just two nominations. Her second win came in 1952 for her performance as faded debutante Blanche DuBois. Unlike Leigh, her three nominated co-stars (Marlon Brando, Karl Malden, and Kim Hunter) all originally played their roles on the Broadway stage, and Leigh’s screen time in the film adds up to more than double each of theirs. Her performance is notable for defeating the shortest ever nominated in the category: Eleanor Parker’s in “Detective Story” (20 minutes and 10 seconds).
5. Julia Roberts (“Erin Brockovich”)
1 hour, 35 minutes, 45 seconds (73.01% of the film)
10 years after her first Best Actress nomination, Roberts brought home the award for playing the title character in “Erin Brockovich.” The group of nominees she competed against in 2001 had a screen time average of just 48 minutes and 42 seconds, with only one (Laura Linney, “You Can Count on Me”) surpassing one hour. Hers was the longest performance nominated in the category in 11 years, and a longer one would not be nominated for another 14 years.
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4. Olivia de Havilland (“To Each His Own”)
1 hour, 36 minutes, 56 seconds (82.66% of the film)
Within three years, Olivia de Havilland won two Best Actress Oscars, first in 1947 for her role as unwed mother Jody Norris. Hers was the longest Oscar-nominated performance of the year – even longer than James Stewart’s iconic turn in “It’s a Wonderful Life” – and one of the three longest of the decade. It was also one of the four longest ever nominated up to that point, with only the performances of Norma Shearer in “Marie Antoinette”, Vivien Leigh in “Gone with the Wind”, and Gregory Peck in “The Keys of the Kingdom” surpassing it.
3. Meryl Streep (“Sophie’s Choice”)
1 hour, 41 minutes, 14 seconds (67.09% of the film)
Before going on to earn a record number of nominations in the Best Actress category, Streep won the award on her second try in 1983 as the titular character. It being her second win after her victory for “Kramer vs. Kramer” in 1980, she became the first to win Best Actress after previously winning Best Supporting Actress. Including her four bids in the supporting category, this is the third longest of all her nominated performances, after “Out of Africa” (one hour, 52 minutes, 57 seconds) and “Silkwood” (one hour, 43 minutes, 17 seconds).
2. Barbra Streisand (“Funny Girl”)
2 hours, 1 minute, 2 seconds (78.03% of the film)
After winning an Emmy and multiple Grammys, Streisand added an Oscar to her list of accolades for recreating her stage role as comedian Fanny Brice. She became the second of only three people to win lead acting Oscars for their film debuts, as well as the third and most recent acting winner to hit the two hour screen time mark. Streisand’s performance tied for the award with Katharine Hepburn’s in “The Lion in Winter,” which clocks in at a much lower total of one hour, 10 minutes, and 38 seconds.
1. Vivien Leigh (“Gone with the Wind”)
2 hours, 23 minutes, 32 seconds (61.61% of the film)
At the 7th Academy Awards in 1935, Claudette Colbert set a record for longest Best Actress-winning performance with just one hour, two minutes, and 56 seconds of screen time in “It Happened One Night.” Leigh handily took it from her five years later when she won for playing the role of conniving southern belle Scarlett O’Hara in “Gone with the Wind,” appearing in close to two thirds of the nearly four-hour epic. Her performance was established as the longest to ever win or be nominated for an acting Oscar, and she has held both records for over 80 years.
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