Oscars 2016: On gender diversity

According to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences trivia, only one person has won a gender-bending Oscar: Linda Hunt as the male dwarf Billy Kwan in 1982’s The Year of Living Dangerously.

Guess that means Jared Leto, who won a supporting actor Oscar for playing Rayon in 2013’s Dallas Buyers Club, doesn’t count. So not even “liberal-leaning Hollywood” knows how to classify transgender roles? What do you do when a man plays a woman assigned as a man at birth? That is some complicated back story. We’re not talking about playing the opposite sex but playing someone who matches one’s birth-assigned gender and has gender dysphoria. Not gender-bending, mind-bending.

Would Eddie Redmayne break new ground if he takes home an Oscar for playing pioneer transgender woman Lili Elbe in The Danish Girl? Or would someone demand to see a birth certificate?

Nothing new under the sun, The Bard might say. Since Shakespearean days, actors have played opposite gender roles. In opera, “pants” roles are de rigueur for mezzos. What Redmayne, Leto and Hunt have been doing is simply acting.

Going forward, what if a transgender actor/actress were to be nominated in an acting category — Laverne Cox, for example. Or someone who has not undergone gender confirmation surgery “displaying” as one gender yet identifying as another — how would the academy handle that acting feat?

Perhaps one day all gender walls shall be blessedly decimated and the academy will be forced to stop segregating men and women into actor/actress categories. It could honor up to 10 nominees and crown just one winner, as in the best picture category. No matter how you slice it, these awards compare apples to oranges.

Such a transformation might actually shorten the awards show. There’s that.

POST-OSCARS UPDATE: Ha! Chris Rock mentioned this very thing in his monologue. Why segregate the sexes?!

Oscar picks: Supporting Roles

This should be fairly straightforward. Besides my husband thinks I should write shorter posts. How’s this, dear?

Actor in a Supporting Role

It’s a fairly green field.

The nominees

Barkhad Abdi (Captain Phillips). Too green, and too raw.

Bradley Cooper (American Hustle). He seems to be doing the same drill as in his Oscar-nominated role for 2012’s Silver Linings Playbook.

Michael Fassbender (12 Years a Slave). Who? Oh him. Steve McQueen’s pet actor. This is the third full-length feature McQueen has directed and Fassbender has starred in all three. Problem is: He’s not Jared Leto.

Jonah Hill (The Wolf of Wall Street). I’m rooting for him (this is his second nomination as sidekick). But he’s not Jared Leto enough, either.

Jared Leto (Dallas Buyers Club). BINGO. Works for me.

My prediction & pick: Jared Leto

Here is a glimpse of Leto as the frontman for the band 30 Seconds to Mars. All of their music videos are produced like mini-movies. He is dreamy and, guess what? Apparently not  transgender.

Actress in a supporting role

Three of the five gals are new to the Oscar pool, while this is Julia Roberts’ fourth nomination (she won once for her leading role in “Erin Brockovich”) and Jennifer Lawrence’s third nod (she also won a leading role Oscar, last year for “Silver Linings Playbook”). I’m canceling both veterans out. It’s a race among newbies.

The nominees

Sally Hawkins (Blue Jasmine). She is my one curveball. I like her, I really like her …  I kinda like her better than Cate Blanchett, and I might be crazy enough to pick her. Anyone nominated can win, right? (I have to say I didn’t even realize she was British until I saw she narrated the animated short nominee “Room on the Broom.” That makes her doubly good.)

Jennifer Lawrence (American Hustle). Love her work and her acceptance speeches, but not this time, chica.

Lupita Nyong’o (12 Years a Slave). Smart money is on her, but no betting.

Julia Roberts (August: Osage County). Could happen. But I like living dangerously, at least in one catty category.

June Squibb (Nebraska). Her performance was a bit cultish. And every time I see her I think of Janet Yellen.

Sally-Hawkins

My pick: Sally Hawkins

My prediction: Lupita Nyong’o