If you’re tired of listening to Christian Bale eviscerating Terminator Salvation cinematographer Shane Hurlbut for distracting him during a shot (and honestly, you shouldn’t be, because it is the most insane thing ever), we’ve found another way for you to spend your lunch hour. The New York Times has been kind enough to post nearly all of Viola Davis’ Oscar nominated performance from Doubt on their website. (Unfortunately there’s no embed code, but you can find the clip here.) Her seven-minute-and-42-second showdown with Meryl Streep is certainly something to behold—a mix of stagey histrionics and subtle nuance that produced some of the best and most heartbreaking work by an actress from 2008.
While the front-runner heat that was on Ms. Davis for about a week after the movie opened has dissipated, it wouldn’t be shocking in the least to see her take home the Oscar come Feb. 22. In what has become one of the most wide-open races of the night, an argument could be made for almost any of the other four nominees—Penelope Cruz, Tariji P. Henson, Marisa Tomei and Ms. Davis’ co-star Amy Adams. But whereas they all had multiple opportunities to create a character and performance, Ms. Davis is only given a single scene up against one of the greatest actresses ever. (It should be noted that Ms. Streep tries her damndest to steal the scene with a couple of well-placed eye rolls, glances and harrumphs, and that she almost does it.) Daunting! But to her credit, the former Law & Order actress more than holds her own ground.
Normally, we always find it somewhat of a cheat when an actor gets wide acclaim for such scant screen time, but in Ms. Davis’ case we’re willing to make an exception. If she does win, her turn will join Dame Judi Dench’s and Beatrice Straight’s in the annals of Oscar trivia as among the shortest performances to win an award. Dame Judi won in 1998 for eight minutes (!) in Shakespeare in Love, while Ms. Straight won for her 10-minute scene in Network back in 1976.
And speaking of random Oscar trivia concerning screen time, how about this nugget: Did you know that Anthony Hopkins was onscreen for less than 20 minutes in his Best Actor-winning performance during Silence of the Lambs? Seriously! How was that allowed to happen?