Friday, October 17, 2008

And the Winner is...


Here's an interesting question:

Why doesn't the Academy Awards combine the Best Actor and Best Actress Oscar into a single Best Performer category?

They make no gender distinction in the Best Director category so why should they split the Best Performer?

I started boycotting the Oscars after 1997 when Kim Bassinger won an Oscar for her supporting role in LA Confidential. I was shocked to discover that the sexy ingenue/helpless victim with thirty seconds of screen time was considered the best that Hollywood had to offer.

Today, I'm looking for gender bias in the Academy Awards.

Judging an artist's ability to 'act' is clearly subjective. I'll attempt to prove my case by comparing how often the Best Performers were in the film that won Best Picture. Why? I want to show that, even though women are winning awards for their performances, they're seldom in, what the Academy considers to be, the year's best cinema.

It may be an odd approach but the data was interesting. Let's look at the numbers.

It is very common for the winners of Best Actor or Actress to be in a film that was, at the very least, nominated for Best Picture.

1962 to 2008 "Best Picture" Award
In this 54 year span, the winners of the Leading Actress Oscar were in 30 films that had been nominated for the Best Picture. Of those times they were in the Best Picture 7 times (23%). The winners of the Leading Actor Oscar were in 34 films that had been nominated for the Best Picture Oscar. This proved to be the leading role in the Best Picture 15 times (44%).

1944-1961 "Best Motion Picture" Award
This is a more dismal era. Nine Leading Men doubled up while no Leading Females were in the Best Picture of the year. I think this clearly demonstrates a history of Hollywood gender bias but it's clear that the situation has improved.

Here's a spreadsheet of my gender analysis of the Academy Awards.
A pale yellow block indicates that the film was nominated for Best Picture.
A bright yellow block indicates that the film won Best Picture.

It's also interesting to point out that the last films to boast the Best Picture with the Best Leading Actress have offered some gender-bending roles (Hilary Swank as a professional boxer, Paltrow as a cross-dressing actor, and Jodie Foster as a star FBI agent).

What do you think of combining the acting awards? What about my wild analysis?

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