I just bumped into the Bechdel Test, a way of evaluating movies in terms of the roles women play.
To pass the test
1. [The film] has to have at least two [named] women in it
2. Who talk to each other
3. About something besides a man
There is a website defining the test and applying it to many movies.
This video discussing the test and applying it to the Academy Awards best picture nominees is excellent. It comes to the conclusion that two movies clearly pass the test, “The Descendants,” and “The Help” with two other movies coming close depending on how one interprets short snippets of conversation, “Hugo” and “Midnight in Paris.”
The video also talks of applying the movie to analyze the roles of characters of color in film using Alaya Dawn Johnson’s modification:
1.The film has to have two People of Color in it.
2. Who talk to each other.
3. About something other than a white person.
Only one Academy Award best picture nominee, “The Help,” passes this version.
Yes, these tests are very reductionist and do not guarantee that a film is good, unbiased, or woman centered, but they are useful as a way to see trends in an industry. Also, it matters what group of films one looks at. For example, by looking at best picture nominees, the analysis of the Academy Awards misses “Iron Lady.”