The Best Supporting Actress Race Perfectly Demonstrates Hollywood's Female Problem

Photo: Everett Collection/REX USA.
There's an interesting essay on Time.com today called "The Best Supporting Actress Race At The Oscars Reveals An Uncomfortable Truth." The thesis is this: "The Best Supporting Actress roles are depressingly obvious: mother, daughter, girlfriend, or witch." The article calls the category one of the weakest fields, with Patricia Arquette — who was allowed a "masterful transformation from desperate single mom to capable college professor" in Boyhood — almost a guaranteed lock because of the stereotypical roles into which the other nominees fit.

Besides Arquette, the nominees in this year's race were only allowed one defining characteristic each. Laura Dern was a mother inWild. Emma Stone was a daughter in Birdman. Keira Knightley was "a pretty standard plucky love interest in The Imitation Game." Meryl Streep played a witch in Into the Woods.

Women are, of course, going to have the aforementioned identities. We are all someone's daughter, and possibly a mother or girlfriend. What we hope changes in the future is the fact that the characters usually nominated for Best Supporting Actress are only allowed to be one thing. It's almost as if it would be too much for the audience to handle if, besides a strong female lead, any other female characters in a film also had multi-faceted personalities and lives. 

"It's not just that more women need to be getting lead roles — there also need to be nuanced small roles for women, and more of them," Charlotte Alter writes in the article. "Strong female support is just as important as a strong female stardom."

To which we say: Hear, hear. (TIME)

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