Male vs Female Actors on the AFI Top 100While taking a fascinating course on psychology, the question came up of whether male actors or female actors (actresses) have access to more high quality role opportunities. I.e. we're ignoring the adult movie industry and cheaply churned out action flicks. We're curious which group of people has the ability to take a lead role in a high quality movie.
The idea of having male actors and female actors compete directly for Oscars appeals to me greatly. We don't have a "female director" and "male director" category. Why do we have actors compete separately? One argument would be because males get far more access to quality roles so they would always win. But is that true?
To look into this male vs female actor question, I decided to look at the AFI Top 100 movie listing. The American Film Institute put together the highest quality 100 films ever made, as of 2000. I tried to make a fair judgment of whether there was a good quality female role and male role in each film. I realize my choices may not be an exact science :) For example, High Noon does have two female characters, but they're "filler" to gaze adoringly or turn their backs on the hero. Some movies have neither listed, for example Fantasia and E.T.
Strong Male Role: 92
Strong Female Role: 66
It does seem clear that many movies are male-heavy. Part of that could be that this is a historical listing. Movies made in war years are about war and I don't think there was a single female speaking role in Patton. There wasn't one in Platoon. I don't think there was one in Bridge of the River Kwai either. Maybe part of this issue is a historical one which will fade as we move into the 21st century!
Original AFI Top 100
AFI Top 100 Film Listing
Male vs Female Actors in the AFI Top 100
The Bechdel Test in the AFI Top 100
10th Anniversary of the AFI Top 100
AFI Top 100 Film Listing 10th Anniversary
Male vs Female Actors in the AFI Top 100 10th Anniversary
The Bechdel Test in the AFI Top 100 10th Anniversary