10 Actors That Appeared in Only a Few Scenes, but Went on to Win Oscars

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No matter how little screen time an actor has, it can take as little as 5 minutes to prove that their performance is worthy of an Oscar award. In short, in the development of a story, there are moments and characters that can define everything, and by bringing out the best in their role, they can achieve hypnotic scenes that completely steal the show.

Bright Side wanted to share a list of 10 actors with you who appeared in a few scenes of a movie, but demonstrated their great artistic talent and took an Academy Award statuette for it.

1. Anne Hathaway — Les Misérables (2012)

One of the actresses who has proven that you can captivate audiences in a short time is Anne Hathaway. She appeared in the musical drama Les Misérables for 15 minutes, and one of the sequences, only 3 and a half minutes long, was what is said to have had the merit of helping her win the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress. It wasn’t easy, though, as she had to lose weight and deal with anxiety for the performance.

2. Anthony Hopkins — The Silence of the Lambs (1991)

Anthony Hopkins, with his role as Hannibal Lecter, a dangerous and intellectual criminal in the film The Silence of the Lambs, won the Oscar for Best Actor, and with this role propelled his career. In total, the actor only appeared for 17 minutes on screen.

3. Nicole Kidman — The Hours (2002)

Nicole Kidman gave life to the character of Virginia Woolf in The Hours (2002), a film in which she starred alongside Meryl Streep and Julianne Moore. The character she plays is a woman with mental health problems, and although her appearance is brief, it earned her an Oscar for Best Actress.

4. Alan Arkin — Little Miss Sunshine (2006)

In Little Miss Sunshine, Alan Arkin plays Edwin, an optimistic grandfather who encourages his granddaughter to enter a beauty pageant. In the film, he stands out from the other characters precisely because of his attitude, and although he does not appear in long scenes, his role, besides being crucial to the story, earned him an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor.

5. Jared Leto — Dallas Buyers Club (2013)

Jared Leto appears in Dallas Buyers Club for less than a quarter of the film, as Rayon, a transgender woman. The actor, in addition to making physical changes, used research to help him bring the character to life and, among other things, refused to give up his role during filming. His performance earned him an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor.

6. Mahershala Ali — Moonlight (2016)

The film Moonlight tells the story of a fatherless African-American boy in 3 stages of his life: childhood, adolescence, and maturity. In the first of these, Mahershala Ali appears playing Juan, a character who becomes the father figure of the protagonist. His performance won him an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor.

7. Yuh-Jung Youn — Minari (2020)

South Korean Yuh-Jung Youn won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress in 2021 for her role in the film Minari. Thanks to her work, she became the second Asian woman to win an acting award since 1958.

8. Beatrice Straight — Network (1976)

Beatrice Straight’s performance is a true milestone of time and acting quality. As the wife of Holden’s character in Network (1976), she appeared in only 3 scenes, and was the shortest performance to win the Best Supporting Actress Oscar.

9. Judi Dench — Shakespeare in Love (1998)

Another actress who did not need much screen time to win an Oscar was Judi Dench for her role in Shakespeare in Love (1998). It only took about 8 minutes of her playing Queen Elizabeth I for her to win the award for Best Supporting Actress.

10. Heath Ledger — Batman: The Dark Knight (2008)

Heath Ledger, for his work in Batman: The Dark Knight, won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor, which was received by his family. His screen time as the Joker (Batman’s archenemy) was only 33 minutes.

Which scene from a movie do you find memorable and why? Also, tell us if you have a favorite actor and what makes them special in your opinion!


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