The Academy announced the 92nd Oscar nominations on January 13 and the film-enthusiast in me was quick to scroll through the list.
I read through the contenders in the Best Director category: Martin Scorsese (“The Irishman”), Todd Phillips (“Joker”), Sam Mendes (“1917”), Quentin Tarantino (“Once Upon a Time in Hollywood”) and Bong Joon Ho (“Parasite”). I paused noticing no female directors were on the list. “Oh well, it is a boy’s club,” I shrugged and kept on scrolling.
In the ceremony’s 92-year history only five women have ever been nominated for the prestigious Best Director award. And only one woman, Kathryn Bigelow (“The Hurt Locker”), has won the award. No female directors being nominated is the norm; therefore, I was not surprised.
To clarify, all those nominated for Best Director are fully deserving. I am not asking that the Academy just place women in this category to appear less sexist. Their work must earn them a seat at the table.
It is important to understand that the number of female directors in Hollywood has been steadily growing. Out of the top 100 films of 2019, 12 were directed by women. Therefore, let us review some of those movies.
The widely acclaimed movie “Little Women” directed by Greta Gerwig captivated audiences and has been nominated for Best Picture and Best Adapted Screenplay. It baffles me that she has not been honored with a Best Director nomination. Other female directors that could have been considered for the category are Lulu Wang (“The Farewell”), Marielle Heller (“A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood”), Lorene Scarfaria (“Hustlers”) and Alma Har’el (“Honey Boy”).
Most of these movies starred a largely female cast and portrayed women as more than just beautiful companions to men. These movies made audiences around the world connect with the complexity of being female.
None of these trailblazing female directors who offered us enriching, empowering female narratives being recognized for their craft is confounding. Unfortunately, we live in a society that often devalues the stories and work of women.