The strong competition for this year’s best actress and supporting actress Oscars should be cause to celebrate.
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8 Nov 2010 - 11:29 AM  UPDATED 6 Nov 2012 - 1:33 PM

Annette Bening, Julianne Moore, Natalie Portman, Anne Hathaway, Lesley Manville, Nicole Kidman, Jennifer Lawrence and Michelle Williams are among the favourites in this year's best actress Oscar derby.

Jacki Weaver, Rosamund Pike, Melissa Leo, Barbara Hershey, Hailee Steinfeld, Amy Adams, Sissy Spacek and Juliette Lewis are among the contenders for supporting actress, according to numerous pundits.

All of which would seem to point to 2010 ranking as an extremely strong year for females in the supposedly male-dominated world of cinema, right? Well no, according to Sharon Waxman on her popular website The Wrap.

In an extraordinarily one-sided, blinkered article headed “Women Crowded Out of the Picture in the 2010 Oscars Race,” Waxman trots out that old saw about actresses getting a raw deal and uses a highly selective bunch of films to back up her flimsy argument.

Listing The King's Speech, 127 Hours, The Fighter, True Grit, The Social Network, Inception and Biutiful, she asks, “What do these awards-season favourites have in common?” and concludes, “None of them has female characters of any great consequence. Some have no women at all.”

She unkindly remarks that Helena Bonham Carter “looks more like furniture” in The King's Speech; opines that the Coen brothers' remake True Grit (which no one has seen) has a pre-pubescent lead female who's outnumbered three-to-one by central male characters; and regurgitates criticism of the libido-centric women depicted in The Social Network.

As for True Grit, was she expecting the Coens to rewrite the classic Western's script to give more prominence to females?

More seriously, Waxman's article ignores virtually all the movies for which the actresses named above are garnering Oscar attention except True Grit and Conviction, for which Juliette Lewis has an outside chance of a supporting actress nod.

There's no mention of The Kids Are All Right (Bening, Moore), Black Swan (Portman), Love and Other Drugs (Hathaway), Another Year ( Manville), Rabbit Hole (Kidman), Winter's Bone (Lawrence) and Blue Valentine (Williams), all touted as best actress vehicles.

Or Animal Kingdom (Weaver), Barney's Version and Made in Dagenham (Pike), Get Low (Spacek) and Black Swan (Hershey), all with supporting actress potential.

Waxman tested her theory on the dearth of roles for women with Hilary Swank and Minnie Driver, who appear in Conviction. Swank rolled her eyes and said, “I hear this every year. I've been lucky. I've gotten great roles. But there aren't a lot of them.”

Driver agreed there were limited choices but said it's up to actresses to turn them into something real. “You begin as an appendage, and it's sort of like a magic trick,” she said. “People underestimate a woman's approach to filmmaking.”

Just like some people underestimate how many juicy roles for women there have been this year.