The 92nd Academy Awards nominations were announced Monday after an already contentious kick-off to awards season. Before the reveal, the Golden Globes came under fire after, yet again, producing a list of nominees for Best Director completely comprising men. This disappointment fueled hope for the Oscars. Maybe, just maybe, the Academy would take a lesson from the ignorance of the Hollywood Foreign Press and open their minds to more thoughtful and inclusive choices. Alas, this hope was dashed the moment the nominations hit social media.
Five directors were nominated for Best Director. All of them are men.
In the past 10 years, two women have been nominated for Best Director. Over the entire 91 year history of the Oscars, only five women have ever been nominated, with only one, Kathryn Bigelow, taking home the coveted statuette.
This is especially perplexing given the many incredible films from the past year that were directed by women. Greta Gerwig’s “Little Women,” Lulu Wang’s “The Farewell,” Olivia Wilde’s “Booksmart,” Celine Sciamma’s “Portrait of a Lady on Fire,” Lorene Scafaria’s “Hustlers” and Melina Matsoukas’ “Queen and Slim” are just a handful of the many critically acclaimed films directed by women. In 2019, women accounted for 12 percent of directors working on the top 100 grossing films, according to the Celluloid Ceiling, a yearly compilation of statistics related to women’s behind-the-scenes employment.
These films not being considered for Best Director, amongst many other category snubs, not only shows Hollywood’s obvious gender bias but also their aversion to nominating films centered around women. Besides “Parasite,” the main characters in every Best Director-nominated film are men, taking up every plot with their singular perspectives. This neglectful underrepresentation at award shows indicates a troubling focus on male-dominated cinema.
These snubs also further amplify the societal standard of excluding women by ignoring their hard work as creators — despite their films frequently receiving wide recognition and praise. “Little Women” racked up nominations for Best Picture, Best Actress, Best Supporting Actress and Best Adapted Screenplay, but failed to give specifically Greta Gerwig acknowledgment for her direction. Not to mention, Gerwig directed “Little Women” while pregnant with her first child.
Proper recognition will require the Academy to catch up with the steady progression of the industry itself. In the past year, 40 percent of the top 100 films featured a female protagonist and 32 percent of all characters from this year’s top 500 films were women of color. Institutions like the Oscars and the Golden Globes are the areas of entertainment aggressively stuck in the past, a fact that only slows the industry’s gradual positive change.
This trend of excluding women from the Hollywood elite is one that should be protested and rejected but hopefully will change, not only with time but also with younger generations taking the reins. Though we should not be complacent in working towards an even playing field in the entertainment industry today, its slow evolution might be setting a foundation for a better future.