They Shoot Oscar Prognosticators, Don't They?

In The Year of Women, Will Oscar Stay Male?

By J. Don Birnam

November 11, 2015

A room of her own.

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Most of the Oscar acting categories remain as wide open as the Best Picture race, but one thing is certain: it’s been a banner year for performances by Actresses. Will the Academy respond by rewarding male-centric stories?

Today I’ll look at the acting races - you can check out our updated power rankings for them at this link, and follow me on Twitter and Instagram for minute-to-minute analysis of those and other Oscar categories.

Best Director—All Men In the Year of Women?

As we discuss below, it is clear that it was a strong year for actresses - there are so many strong performances that it will be impossible to narrow it down to five in each category with any confidence. This is not surprising, of course, given how many movies were made this year that center around women. If you include Room, Freeheld, Inside Out, Suffragette, Carol, Brooklyn, and Joy, the list really seems interminable compared to years past.

As I predicted last week, several of these movies are likely to find their way into the Best Picture nominees, making it one of the most diverse in years (compare to, for example, last year, where every single story was about men, and all but one about white men, for that matter).


What will be fascinating to see, however, is if in this year of women, the Oscars will be able to escape their calcified resistance to rewarding women filmmakers and writers. Will Amy Schumer find a spot for her beloved Trainwreck, for example? Or will it be the usual suspects - Tarantino, Sorkin, etc., in the lead in the writing categories?

Things look even direr in the Best Director category, where all of the leading contenders are currently male. With candidates such as Tom McCarthy for Spotlight, Todd Haynes for Carol, David O. Russell for Joy, Danny Boyle for Steve Jobs, and Alejandro González Iñárritu for The Revenant, guys are once again dominating the Best Director race. It is not that they do not deserve the attention - all of these are or appear to be great directorial achievements.

Still, one is left to wonder why, for example, the helmer of Suffragette is not more in the conversation? It will be interesting to follow this race in particular given the diversity of the subject matters of the films themselves.

Will #OscarsSoMale be the new hashtag to give the Academy a headache, after last year’s #OscarsSoWhite?

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