Will playing a stripper help Halle Berry win an Oscar? A guide to loose women onscreen.

What women really think about news, politics, and culture.
Dec. 17 2010 3:04 PM

The Easiest Path to an Academy Award

Will playing a stripper help Halle Berry win an Oscar? A guide to loose women onscreen.

Let's say you're a goal-oriented actress looking to nab an Oscar statuette: What's the easiest path to an Academy Award? Historically, it's been to, well, be easy: Of the women who have won the Academy Award for best or supporting actress, a disproportionate number have played prostitutes, strippers, or "loose" women. Plenty of actresses, though, have tried, unsuccessfully, to pole-dance their way to acclaim only to end up figures of ridicule: Call it the Showgirlsproblem—the clichés have to land on just short of de trop for the gambit to be successful. Halle Berry, who already won a best actress prize in 2001, is in the running again after her surprise Golden Globes nomination for Frankie and Alice, a small-budget passion project in which she portrays a stripper with multiple personalities. (The fact that only one of the personalities strips shouldn't be a disqualifier: Joanne Woodward won an Oscar for her portrayal of multiple personalities in The Three Faces of Eve, and her risqué personality wasn't even a sex worker; she was merely wild.) So what are Berry's chances of taking home an Oscar? Below, a chart to guide your handicapping.

95_101216_dx_movie_chart3

Designed by Natalie Matthews-Ramo.

Corrections, Dec. 18, 2010: The chart initially misspelled Elisabeth Shue, Susan Hayward, and Elizabeth Berkley. It also mistakenly said that Jon Voight was awarded an Oscar for Midnight Cowboy, when, in fact, he was nominated but did not win. 

Noreen Malone is a senior editor at New York magazine.

TODAY IN SLATE

Politics

Meet the New Bosses

How the Republicans would run the Senate.

The Government Is Giving Millions of Dollars in Electric-Car Subsidies to the Wrong Drivers

Scotland Is Just the Beginning. Expect More Political Earthquakes in Europe.

Cheez-Its. Ritz. Triscuits.

Why all cracker names sound alike.

Friends Was the Last Purely Pleasurable Sitcom

The Eye

This Whimsical Driverless Car Imagines Transportation in 2059

Medical Examiner

Did America Get Fat by Drinking Diet Soda?  

A high-profile study points the finger at artificial sweeteners.

The Afghan Town With a Legitimately Good Tourism Pitch

A Futurama Writer on How the Vietnam War Shaped the Series

  News & Politics
Photography
Sept. 21 2014 11:34 PM People’s Climate March in Photos Hundreds of thousands of marchers took to the streets of NYC in the largest climate rally in history.
  Business
Business Insider
Sept. 20 2014 6:30 AM The Man Making Bill Gates Richer
  Life
Quora
Sept. 20 2014 7:27 AM How Do Plants Grow Aboard the International Space Station?
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 19 2014 4:58 PM Steubenville Gets the Lifetime Treatment (And a Cheerleader Erupts Into Flames)
  Slate Plus
Tv Club
Sept. 21 2014 1:15 PM The Slate Doctor Who Podcast: Episode 5  A spoiler-filled discussion of "Time Heist."
  Arts
Television
Sept. 21 2014 9:00 PM Attractive People Being Funny While Doing Amusing and Sometimes Romantic Things Don’t dismiss it. Friends was a truly great show.
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 21 2014 11:38 PM “Welcome to the War of Tomorrow” How Futurama’s writers depicted asymmetrical warfare.
  Health & Science
The Good Word
Sept. 21 2014 11:44 PM Does This Name Make Me Sound High-Fat? Why it just seems so right to call a cracker “Cheez-It.”
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 18 2014 11:42 AM Grandmaster Clash One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.