Cinemetrics Extracts Statistical Data From Movies
By KEVIN B. LEE FEB. 27, 2014
... Today the Cinemetrics website, run by Yuri Tsivian, a scholar at the University of Chicago, Daria Khitrova and Gunars Civjans, holds statistics on more than 14,000 films.
... One disquieting finding from my research is that this year’s lead actors average 85 minutes on screen, but lead actresses average only 57 minutes. (When you add in supporting categories, all competing actors averaged 59 minutes, while all competing actresses averaged 42 minutes.) Last year’s results were even more imbalanced: nominated male stars averaged 100 minutes on screen to the lead actresses’ 49 minutes.
I've always said that Best Actor is a much bigger award than Best Actress.
Actors have longer to perfect their crafts as leads in big pictures than do actresses (e.g., Best Actor last year was 55-year-old Daniel Day-Lewis in Spielberg's Lincoln versus 22-year-old Jennifer Lawrence in Silver Linings Playbook.) While Judy Dench and Meryl Streep continue to get Best Actress nominations, the size of their movies drops as they age.
Most screenwriters and almost all top directors are male (e.g., Silver Linings Playbook was David O. Russell's quasi-autobiographical tale about his mental problems, so Bradley Cooper is the main character while Lawrence is cast as The Girl).
Mr. Bordwell said genre might help explain the gender gap. Male stars are typically the protagonists in action or goal-oriented narratives that require the viewer to follow the story through the lead’s experiences. Female stars are more typically cast in melodramas that require the lead to serve as a hub connecting different characters and subplots. ...
Mr. Cassidy [editor of American Hustle] wagered that there wasn’t much of a gap in the screen time between the two nominated leads of his film. But Christian Bale actually has 60 minutes of screen to Amy Adams’s 46 minutes, a significant difference even in an ensemble movie.
Is there really any doubt that Christian Bale's conman is the main character? American Hustle opens and closes with him. He's the character David O. Russell most identifies with. It's not exactly a secret that successful directors like Russell or Scorsese often see a lot of themselves in the flim-flam man main characters that attract them to projects like American Hustle or Wolf of Wall Street.
In general, as you go up the quality scale, the gender gap gets bigger. There are plenty of run-of-the-mill TV shows where actresses of a certain age solve crimes. There are huge audiences who buy a lot of heavily advertised products for those shows.
But when you get to major film auteurs, you get their obsessions. Martin Scorsese, for instance, thinks about guys, all the time. I doubt if he's thought about any of his five wives as much as he's thought about Robert De Niro or Leonardo DiCaprio. (Maybe one of those ex-wives, however, is slightly ahead of Joe Pesci and Harvey Keitel for third place in the Scorsese Attention Sweepstakes.)