Emma Stone arrives at the 89th Academy Awards on Sunday, Feb. 26, 2017, at the Dolby Theatre at Hollywood & Highland Center in Hollywood. (Jay L. Clendenin/Los Angeles Times/TNS)

Justin Chang: Best Picture-Lead Actress Split Highlights Lag Over Female-Centric Films

By Justin Chang
Los Angeles Times

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) In this op-ed by Justin Chang, Chang takes an interesting look at the Oscars and Gender. Chang says, “For all the encouraging talk of increased gender parity in front of and behind the camera, the motion picture academy still faces a perception problem in terms of which films, and which genders, are deemed significant enough for its highest honor”

LOS ANGELES

No one who has paid any attention to the Academy Awards over the past 89 years has ever seen anything like “Moonlight’s” shocking, exhilarating, stomach-churning come-from-behind Oscar win on Sunday night, a victory that stunned the Dolby Theatre audience and viewers watching around the world.

In a rare year when everything went bizarrely haywire at the last minute, triggering memories of Steve Harvey’s 2015 Miss Universe flub, as well as flashbacks to the recent historic upset in the presidential election, one statistical trend held steady: Not since Hilary Swank won the Oscar for “Million Dollar Baby” in 2005 have the awards for lead actress and best picture gone to the same movie.

The stage had seemed set for Emma Stone to break the trend this year as the lead-actress front-runner starring in the best-picture front-runner, “La La Land.” While some had anticipated an upset win by Isabelle Huppert for “Elle,” Stone’s road to victory seemed clear.

But then “Moonlight,” despite having lost the reliably predictive producers and directors guild awards to “La La Land,” pulled through with the win.

There are several possible takeaways here, not least among them the fact that Barry Jenkins’ film strikes me as the most deserving best-picture Oscar winner since “The Hurt Locker” and possibly “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King.” But there’s also the fact that, for all the encouraging talk of increased gender parity in front of and behind the camera, the motion picture academy still faces a perception problem in terms of which films, and which genders, are deemed significant enough for its highest honor.

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