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The Women's Academy

Article by Melissa Morrison, published in 2003; filed under Film; tagged award ceremonies, gender roles, Hollywood, movies, Oscars.

There are some contests in which women are truly at a disadvantage when competing with men. Football. Presidential nominations. Snow-writing. But acting is not one of them. Streep vs. Nicholson, Dame Judi vs. Sir Ian, Maggie Gyllenhaal vs. Jake Gyllenhaal - the Vegas odds would be close ones indeed if these actors were pitted against each other for top honors.

They're not, of course. Movie awards have always segregated the genders, without ever explaining what emoting has to do with X and Y chromosomes. And no one's done it longer or with more cachet than the Academy Awards. The separate categories for Actor and Actress are unfair, but practical: What with the dearth of strong roles written for women in Hollywood (not surprising, given the high percentage of male screenwriters and directors), if the sexes were expected to duke it out in the acting categories, the imbalance in the numbers alone would ensure that women never got face time with the little golden man. (And since a parade of peacock gowns is always more interesting than yet another black tux, we'd also be missing out on what Joan Rivers and InStyle consider the real competition of the night.)

Between Salma Hayek's efforts to bring Frida Kahlo to the screen, Chicago's nominated trifecta of Zellweger, Zeta-Jones, and Latifah, and the leading-lady powerhouse that is The Hours, 2002 was a year when writers finally offered up a diverse assortment of juicy roles for the ladies. Here, in honor of the 75th annual Academy Awards, which will be broadcast on March 23, we'd like to offer what the Academy can't: more opportunities for women to win. And, unlike Best Actress in a Leading Role and Best Actress in a Supporting Role, these are truly gender specific.

Femme Fatale

Best Actress in a Male-Fantasy Role
Emily Watson, Punch-Drunk Love
Leonor Watling, Talk to Her
Rebecca Romijn-Stamos, Femme Fatale
Liv Tyler, The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers
Natalie Portman, Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones

Do Thi Hai Yen in The Quiet American

Best Actress in a Romantic Lead Opposite a Man Old Enough to Be Her Father
Hilary Swank, Insomnia
Wanda De Jesus, Blood Work
Debra Messing, Hollywood Ending
Tea Leoni, Hollywood Ending
Do Thi Hai Yen, The Quiet American

Kim Basinger in 8 Mile

Best Acting by a Former Romantic Lead Now Playing Someone's Mother
Daryl Hannah, A Walk to Remember
Geena Davis, Stuart Little 2
Kim Cattrall, Crossroads
Lesley Ann Warren, Secretary
Kim Basinger, 8 Mile

Kathy Bates in About Schmidt

Best Actress in a Role Requiring a Nude Scene That's Integral to the Part
Salma Hayek, Frida
Maggie Gyllenhaal, Secretary
Emily Mortimer, Lovely & Amazing
Kathy Bates, About Schmidt
Thandie Newton, The Truth About Charlie

Beyonce Knowles in Austin Powers in Goldmember

Best Actress Who will Likely Be Replaced in the Sequel By a New Babe
Rosario Dawson, Men in Black II
Fann Wong, Shanghai Nights
Beyonce Knowles, Austin Powers in Goldmember
Halle Barry, Die Another Day
Asia Argento, XXX

Susan Sarandon

Lifetime Achievement Award for Surviving Hollywood with Her Dignity More or Less Intact
Susan Sarandon, Goldie Hawn, Catherine Deneuve, Sissy Spacek, Sally Field, Diane Keaton

Melissa Morrison is a Phoenix-based writer who tapes the Oscars so she can fast-forward through the boring categories.

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XXX

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Rosario Dawson, Men in Black II
Fann Wong, Shanghai Nights
Beyonce Knowles, Austin Powers in Goldmember
Halle Barry, Die Another Day
Asia Argento, XXX