The Representation of Female Characters in the Academy Award Winners for Best Picture of the Year

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Dyer, Briyana
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University Honors College, Middle Tennessee State University
The representation of women in movies is critical to understanding how women interpret and view themselves in the real world. According to a study conducted by the Geena Davis Institute on Gender and Media, only 17% of the top grossing films of 2015 featured a female lead. In addition, there is a tendency for the American film industry to display a poor representation of these female characters. This thesis shines a light on how women are being represented in recent, popular film. It examines and analyzes how female characters are represented in films, specifically examining the past four winners for Best Picture of the Year at the Academy Awards. The films examined are Birdman (2015), Spotlight (2016), Moonlight (2017) and The Shape of Water (2018). In these films, female characters are still being underrepresented and are generally portrayed in a negative way or through a one-dimensional narrative. One of the larger overarching issues within the American film industry is the lack of women being allowed to tell their own stories. In the four movies examined, out of the 10 central directors and writers associated with these films, only one person was a woman. From the 2015 winner to the 2018 winner there was a noticeable increase in the positive representation of women; however, there is still improvement needed within the American film industry to accurately reflect the women that are present in our society.
representation, representation of women, women in film, media representation, female characters