Greta Gerwig’s Little Women may have a shot at the Academy’s top prize – Best Picture – as per Monday morning’s Oscar nominations announcement, with Saoirse Ronan and Florence Pugh nominated for acting, Jacqueline Durran for Costume Design and Gerwig herself for Adapted Screenplay, but she missed out for directing, a poignant snub given Little Women‘s feminist themes.
If Gerwig had received a nomination for directing she would have been only the fifth woman ever to do so, and with her 2017 Lady Bird nod, she would have been the first woman ever to be nominated twice in the category. Only one woman has won in Academy history: Kathryn Bigelow for The Hurt Locker in 2010.
Ronan, who plays Jo March in the film, said she was “scratching [her] head a bit” over the snub. “I’m really happy that the Academy recognized [Gerwig] for Adapted Screenplay and Picture, and I feel like if you’ve been nominated for Best Picture, you have essentially been nominated for Best Director,” she noted. “But to me, Greta, since she started, has made two perfect films, and I hope when she makes her next perfect movie, she gets recognized for everything, because I think she’s one of the most important filmmakers of our time.”
Pugh, who plays Amy March, said the directing loss was “a big blow, especially because she created a film that is so her and so unique and it’s just come out of her, and it’s been a story she’s wanted to do for so long.” She added, “I think everybody’s angry and quite rightly so. I can’t believe it’s happened again, but I don’t really know how to solve it. I don’t know what the answer is, other than we’re talking about it.”
Little Women producer Amy Pascal, who championed Gerwig from their very first meeting, admitted she is “incredibly disappointed about [the directing snub] because she really deserved it.” But equally, Pascal pointed out Gerwig is “really, really happy about the screenplay nomination, and she’s really happy about the movie.”
There’s plenty of reason to celebrate those other nominations of course, especially since Little Women is only the third film written, directed and produced solely by women ever to be nominated in the Best Picture category (the others were The Piano in 1994 and Winter’s Bone in 2011).
Ronan doesn’t think the snub will hinder Gerwig as a filmmaker. “This just kind of makes her more determined to do brilliant work and to keep pushing great work out there,” she told Deadline. “Naturally, as her friend, but as somebody who watches every day just how brilliant she is, I always feel she deserves everything, really.”
The actress, who today became the second-youngest performer to receive four nominations in her career, suspects the Academy may have work to do to bolster its representation of female filmmaking. But, she says, “Since all the awards shows started, and she’s been overlooked in the way she has, the thing that’s made us go, ‘This is happening,’ is that the movie has made over a hundred million dollars already. It’s wonderful to win awards, but if your movie makes $100 million in its first few weeks of opening, that’s going to do the most for paving the way for other movies like this to be made, and that’s something Greta’s done. You can see it getting to the stage where you can’t go on with [women filmmakers] being overlooked in the way they are.”
Pugh points out that this directing nomination snub only serves to make Gerwig’s film all the more relevant. “I think the most important thing—and I’ve said this all along, ever since the Golden Globes started it off—is Greta made a film about women and their relationship with money, and their relationship with men in a man’s working world. And it’s just highlighting the point. It’s just completely underlining how important this film is, and how the themes are still apparent now. If we think about it like that, it’s a weird blessing in disguise and it’s only highlighting the importance of this story and the importance of men and women to go and watch it.”