The topic arises every once in a while. There’s technically no difference between male acting and female acting, in the same way there’s no difference between male and female directing, writing, producing, composing, etc. So acting categories should rightly be gender-neutral, right?
That’s one of those things I think would be ideal in theory but not in practice. Women are already so underrepresented in film that to take away categories like Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress I think would just serve to reduce the number of films about women that get a significant promotional push. “Wild” probably wouldn’t have been nominated anywhere at all. Maybe “Still Alice” wouldn’t even have been picked up and promoted the way it was on the strength of Julianne Moore and her Best Actress potential (overdue or not, I don’t think she was going to make a dent against Redmayne or Keaton).
Our culture and the film industry is not yet ready for that, unfortunately.
Not as many thespians will get their due. The Oscars only have a handful of categories vs. the Grammys. The only reason why gender-neutral categories are successful at the Grammys, for instance, is because there are so many other categories where both male and female talent can pick up wins. Not so much for the Oscars.
This would be progressive, but it would also be unfair.
Just for fun, I think these would be the winners since 2000, women are in bold
2014: Eddie Redmayne and JK Simmons
2013: Cate Blanchett and Jared Leto
2012: Daniel Day-Lewis and Anne Hathaway
2011: Meryl Streep and Christopher Plummer
2010: Colin Firth and Christian Bale
2009: Jeff Bridges and Christoph Waltz
2008: Sean Penn and Heath Ledger
2007: Daniel Day-Lewis and Javier Bardem
2006: Helen Mirren and Alan Arkin
2005: Philip Seymour Hoffman and George Clooney
2004: Hilary Swank and Morgan Freeman
2003: Charlize Theron and Tim Robbins
2002: Adrien Brody and Chris Cooper
2001: Denzel Washington and Jennifer Connelly
2000: Russell Crowe and Benicio del Toro
Now I am most likely wrong about some of these, but women would win only 7/30 oscars. That’s why this cannot happen. At least not in the next 50 years.