Everyone Agrees That Women Directors Were Snubbed — So What Now?

The 2020 Oscar nominations revealed more of the same in the Best Director category. 

The nominations for the first major awards show of the season are in, and, as per usual, they look incredibly male.

The Golden Globes’ category of Best Director, one that’s drawn criticism in the past for its inherent maleness (see: Natalie Portman on stage in 2018, announcing the “all male nominees”), is, once again, made up entirely of men: Bong Joon Ho (Parasite), Sam Mendes (1917), Todd Phillips (Joker), Martin Scorsese (The Irishman), and Quentin Tarantino (Once Upon a Time in Hollywood). The Oscars, too, kept with this trend, nominating the exact same male directors who were up for a Golden Globe.

Female-directed films were not absent from the Golden Globe nominations this year. Greta Gerwig-directed Little Women received two noms: Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture – Drama (Saoirse Ronan) and Original Score (Alexandre Desplat). Director Lulu Wang's The Farewell, too, earned nominations for Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy (Awkwafina) and Best Foreign Language Film. Portrait of a Lady on Fire, written and directed by Céline Sciamma, sits beside The Farewell in the foreign language category. Jennifer Lopez is nominated for the second time in her career based on her performance in Hustlers, directed by Lorene Scafaria; Beanie Feldstein received her first nomination for her performance in Booksmart, directed by Olivia Wilde; and Tom Hanks is nominated for his tenth Globe on behalf of A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, directed by Marielle Heller.

Women Directors Deserve Awards Recognition, But Does It Really Matter? 
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On Tuesday morning, Ronan spoke to Gerwig’s snub, telling Today’s Hoda Kotb, “She’s a really, really brilliant filmmaker and we wouldn’t be here without her. We’ve talked about how we’re sort of inextricably linked, our performances rely so much on one another, but Greta is the one who brought us together and she’s the mastermind behind the whole thing.”

Women should be receiving the recognition they deserve, and they do deserve it. This point has been echoed by the critics, the actors and actresses, the fans … basically, everyone except the HFPA itself. The snubs keep coming, and while this trend is upsetting, it’s also just tired. How many times do we have to write the same story before things actually change? And do awards really even matter?

Box office analyst Karie Bible argues that they don’t, pointing to the box office prominence of films that elude awards recognition. “Vote with your wallet,” she advises who want to see more films by women. “Awards season is a dying beast,” she says, highlighting the diminished celebrity interest in hosting gigs and the declining viewership for awards shows as a whole.

Little Women Posters
Wilson Webb/CTMG

Mia Galuppo, film reporter for The Hollywood Reporter, agrees that awards recognition is not necessarily tantamount to success, but posits that winning awards can bolster a film’s sales in ancillary markets once the project has left theaters. “Box office is only a portion of the money that these projects are making,” Galuppo explains. Following a theatrical release, films still stand to earn revenue from streaming services, airlines, international markets, DVD sales, and so on. “It’s not that female directors become less bankable [without a nomination], it’s that their projects, specifically, may be losing out on money in [ancillary] markets,” Galuppo said.

In the long run, missing a Best Director nomination probably won’t hurt any of these women’s careers, but it will potentially (and quite literally), short-change their films. Simply, Galuppo explains the effect as such: “Who are you most likely to work with again? The person who earns you $10 or the person who earns you $100?”

So, what can you do to move the needle? The answer is obvious, but begs repetition: Stream! Download! Visit a movie theater! Put your money into the projects you hope to see more of in the future.

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