Bright and early Monday morning, John Cho and Issa Rae unveiled the nominees for the 92nd Academy Awards and when it came to Best Director, we all waited with bated breath to see if the Academy would follow this unfortunate trend of women being shut out of the category. One by one, Rae announced the nominees: “The Irishman, Martin Scorsese; Joker, Todd Phillips; 1917, Sam Mendes; Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, Quentin Tarantino…” and finally…”Parasite, Bong Joon Ho”. After she listed the names she said “Congratulations to those men” — which pretty much says it all.
Now in its 92nd year, the Academy failed to recognized female directors after they were very absent at the Golden Globes. It was the same song at for the BAFTA Award nominations in the category and the DGA Awards had zero women in the Feature Film category. However, there was a silver lining at the DGA Awards as three of the five nominees for First Time Director were women: Alma Ha’rel for Honey Boy, Melina Matsoukas for Queen & Slim and Mati Diop for Atlantics. This gave a glimmer of hope that the Academy would include women on their nomination list, but alas, this would be the closest we would get to honoring female directors for their work at a major awards show. That said, Hollywood did not hold back.
Kirsten Schaffer, Executive Director of Women in Film, LA released a statement in regards to the lack of women in the Best Director category: “It’s disheartening that even as the number of women nominated for awards in documentary, short film, and technical categories increases, there have still only been five women considered for the Best Directing award in its 92-year history. The Academy has made efforts to balance its voting bodies, but gender equality and diversity do not just happen. Without deep systemic change in the industry and a real commitment to equity in film finance, distribution, and marketing, this bleak trend will continue.”
“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,” said Ronan. “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 said that it 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 admitted shew was “incredibly disappointed about [the directing snub] because she really deserved it.” However, she was “really, really happy about the screenplay nomination, and she’s really happy about the movie.”
“@thefarewell was one of the most beautiful & nuanced films this year,” tweeted One Day at a Time co-showrunner Gloria Calderón Kellett. “@thumbelulu is incredible @awkwafina is not just a brilliant comedian but a world class actress. It should be in all of the categories. The system is broken. We need to call it out & demand change.”
Director and producer Judd Apatow said, “I think @thefarewell deserved everything. Find it and watch it. @thumbelulu
is a fantastic director. @awkwafina gave a beautiful performance. Everyone did.”
Daniele Tate Melia, producer of The Farewell was not down, but realized that these obstacles are part of a longer journey. She said, “Today I’m thinking about some wise words from our director @thumbelulu: ‘Pioneers are never the people benefiting from the system that they changed, they are part of the change itself…'”
In one of many tweets from Dr. Stacy Smith from the Annenberg Inclusion Initiative, she unpacked what was wrong with the system and urged change is needed in order to have this repeated in the future. “The @TheAcademy may be at the end of a film’s lifecycle, but many of its members are the one’s making movies. So, yeah, it is a major problem,” she tweeted. “Take a page out of the book where industries have actually created change. Put money where it is needed.”
Franklin Leonard, founder of the Black List, took to Twitter and broke it down as to why women weren’t getting nominated. “Just a reminder that based on demographics, the odds of one or fewer women nominated for Best Director in a decade is 1 in more than 22 trillion,” he said. “If you assume that men are 80% of directors, it’s 1 in more than 5000. 90%, 1 in more than 29.”
“For it to even be likely (better than 1 in 2) that there are one or fewer women best director nominees over 10 years, you have to assume that 96.7% of the eligible candidates on offer are men,” he said. When a Twitter user asked him “What female director did you want nominated?” He responded, “The point is not which female director I wanted nominated this year. The point is that the industry and the academy are rife with sexism.”
Michael Schur, creator of The Good Place among many other iconic sitcoms, joked about the all-male nominee list saying, “They really should change the rules and make it so that women are eligible in the Best Director category. Crazy that the rule is still “men only.” It’s 2020! Do the right thing, Academy — change the rule.”
Despite the lack of Oscar nominations for women and for people of color, Clemency director Chinonye Chukwu was filled with hope and a sense of community. “I speak on joy because in a world that is more comfortable with my oppression than my empowerment as a black woman, owning my joy is one of my greatest tools of power,” she tweeted. “To the many artists who have been overlooked and undervalued, I see you – I see US – and we are glorious!”