Oscars Gender Gap Extends to Actors and Actresses

Almost 60 percent of the performances submitted to the Academy for consideration were by men

88th Oscars Academy Awards Wednesday Rehearsals

There’s yet another area where men have an advantage over women in Hollywood — in the number of men and women who are up for Oscar nominations in the acting categories.

On Wednesday, TheWrap looked at the Academy’s list of the 336 films that qualified for the Oscars this year and determined that female directors are far scarcer among U.S. narrative films than they are for documentaries and foreign films.

But further scrutiny of the list finds another gender gap — not among directors, but actors.

A rule that went into effect a couple of years ago allows a company submitting a film for Oscar consideration to list up to 10 actors and 10 actresses to be included in the “Reminder List of Eligible Releases,” from which members of the Actors Branch can select their nominees.

There is no obligation to choose all 10 in each category — and, realistically, no film has that many performers who are truly in contention for Oscars. But the submissions do reveal how narrative films are weighted toward men rather than women, as are Oscar submissions.

More than half of the narrative films that qualified for the Oscars, 161 out of 291, submitted the names of more actors than actresses. Only 49 of the films, or less than 17 percent, submitted more actresses than actors.

Among the films that submitted more actors than actresses were several whose titles came from their female characters: “Alice Through the Looking Glass,” “Jackie,” “Maggie’s Plan,” “Miss Sloane” and “Queen of Katwe.”

“Jackie,” for instance, may be focused on former first lady Jacqueline Kennedy, but it submitted the names of three actresses (Natalie Portman, who plays the title character, along with Greta Gerwig and Beth Grant) and seven actors (Peter Sarsgaard, Billy Crudup, John Hurt, Richard E. Grant, Caspar Phillipson, Max Casella and John Carroll Lynch).

On the other hand, “Certain Women,” “Bridget Jones’s Baby,” “Julieta,” “The Girl on the Train,” “20th Century Women” and “The Witch” were true to their woman-focused titles, submitting more actresses than actors.

Forty other films submitted the same number of actors and actresses. These included “Café Society,” with six each; “Toni Erdmann” and “Spa Night,” with five; “Closet Monster,” “Ghostbusters” and “Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising,” with four; “Christine” and “The Lobster,” with three; “Gold” and “Sing Street,” with two; and “Don’t Think Twice” and “I, Daniel Blake,” with one.

A total of 2,718 different performances were submitted to the Academy for consideration. Of those, 57 percent (1,553) were by men, and 43 percent (1,165) by women.

One performance, by gender-fluid performer Kelly Mantle in “Confessions of a Womanizer,” was submitted in both male and female categories.

But Mantle was not the only performer submitted for “Confessions of a Womanizer”: In the actors category, Gary Busey was also submitted.

And perusing the reminder list supplies other tidbits that have nothing to do with gender gaps:

-Two films that featured large ensemble casts, the British musical “London Road” and the Christopher Guest comedy “Mascots,” did not submit any actors for Oscar consideration.

-One documentary, “I Am Not Your Negro,” did submit an actor, Samuel L. Jackson, who performed some of the unpublished James Baldwin work on which the film is based.

-Forty-one films submitted the maximum allowable number of performers, 10 actors and 10 actresses. Many of these were big-budget, large-cast extravaganzas: “Allied,” “Arrival,” “Batman v. Superman,” “Captain America: Civil War,” “Independence Day: Resurgence,” “Star Trek Beyond,” “Sully” and “X-Men: Apocalypse” among them.

Others that maxed out included “The Edge of Seventeen,” “Free State of Jones,” “Collateral Beauty,” “Florence Foster Jenkins,” “Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates,” “Zoolander 2,” “Why Him?” and “Everybody Wants Some!!”

Also, the animated films “Kung Fu Panda 3” and “Trolls.”

It’s worth pointing out that the imbalance in acting submissions does not reflect any institutional bias on the part of the Academy, which is predominantly male but is trying hard to increase its female and minority membership. It simply measures who is submitted to the Academy by outside companies — and that reflects the male/female balance in movies made in Hollywood and around the world.

In the end, of course, Academy rules will guarantee that 10 men and 10 women will be nominated for Oscars, regardless of how many were submitted.

Actors Branch voters can begin casting ballots on January 5, with nominations announced on January 24 and the 89th Academy Awards taking place on February 26.