Speed Reads

2019 Oscars

The proportion of words spoken by women in Best Picture-winning films is extremely depressing

What film do you have winning Best Picture on Sunday night at the Academy Awards? Will it be Roma? Bohemian Rhapsody? A Star Is Born? Well, if there is one depressing metric shared by almost every Best Picture winner between 1996 and 2016, it's that male characters dominate the speaking roles:

The graphic was originally put together by The Pudding in April 2016, but drew attention again on Sunday ahead of the Oscars ceremony. The Pudding's researchers looked at some 8,000 screenplays in what they described as "arguably the largest undertaking of script analysis, ever." The results were not encouraging — even in Disney films like Pocahontas or Mulan, which have female leads, male characters still had upwards of 75 percent of the on-screen dialogue.

Several films in 2019 potentially could break the dismal Best Picture trend, most notably The Favourite. Only time will tell if this will be the year it is reversed.