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Oscar Watch: Looking at Gender and the Oscars

Oscar Watch: Looking at Gender and the Oscars

Stacy L. Smith, Marc Choueiti and Stephanie Gall of USC have taken a look at gender onscreen and behind the scenes in the best picture nominees over the last 30 years.  There are two sets of findings – films made from 2007-2010 (so that would be the Oscars from 2008-2011, and films from 1977-2010.

Here are some of the findings:

2007-2010 – Best Picture Nominees (30 total- the last two years the best picture nominees had 10)

From the full group 1977-2010 (180 films)

  • There has been an increase in women’s speaking roles onscreen over time. 
  • The amount of women directors has improved tremendously over time – from negligible to pathetic.
  • Films with a female screenwriter feature more female protagonists.
  • There are more younger women onscreen than older women onscreen.

Here are my takeaways

When there are more best picture nominees there are more women directed films included.  The stats do not include this year (where there were no women directed films nominated for best picture) but the stats are clear.  Open it up wider, you get more women.  That’s why I liked the 10 best picture nominees.  It worked for 2010 and 2011.  This year with 9 nominees, it did not work.

It’s no surprise that there are more female directors in the last 4 years than the previous 26.  Women were still trying to break into the business.  If you look at the women who directed movies in the 50s 60s and 70s there are barely a handful.  It was only in the 80s that women started to get any traction and we know that it is still extremely difficult.  As I said, it went from negligible to pathetic.

Women write about women.  No surprise. 

Women and girls are sexualized onscreen and there is still a bias against older women.

Academy Award-nominated movies lack females, racial diversity (USC)

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