It’s no secret that the film industry is a field in which it is much harder for women to succeed than men. The recent announcement of the 2019 Oscar nominations speaks to this statement.
Specifically, no women were nominated this year for best director. This year’s nominees include, Spike Lee, Pawel Pawlikowski, Yorgos Lanthimos, Adam McKay, and Alfonso Cuaron. This is Spike Lee’s first nomination in the category, and he no doubt deserves it, as I’m sure the rest of these directors deserve recognition. However, this category seemed to completely ignore valid options such as Mimi Leder for “On the Basis of Sex,” and Josie Rourke for “Mary Queen of Scots,” among others as well. It is unfair for these women to go unrecognized for their exceptional work. People might argue that this happened because those men are simply the ones who deserve the nomination based on their work. However, this might not be the case.
In the last 91 years, only five women have been nominated for best director, which shows the clear disadvantage female directors are at in this industry. These five nominations include Lina Wertmuller for “Seven Beauties” in 1975, Jane Campion for “The Piano” in 1994, Sofia Coppola for “Lost in Translation” in 2003, Kathryn Bigelow for “The Hurt Locker” in 2009, and Greta Gerwig for “Lady Bird” in 2017. In those 91 years, far more women should have been acknowledged for their work. Out of these five directors, the only woman to ever win best director was Kathryn Bigelow in 2009.
Another qualified director for the category was Marielle Heller for “Can You Ever Forgive Me?” Her lack of a nomination is particularly surprising because Melissa McCarthy was nominated for best actress, alongside co-star Richard E. Grant who was nominated for best supporting actor in “Can You Ever Forgive me?” Both Nicole Holofcener and Jeff Whitty were nominated as the film’s screenwriters. Seems like the director should earn her recognition too, right?
In a Vanity Fair article, it was pointed out the fact that these female directors that have gone unrecognized aren’t being snubbed by awards because they aren’t amazing films, but rather because they didn’t have enough money to “launch a campaign.” In order to get a nomination as a woman you must stay charming and humble and do a lot of work to promote the film. This is upsetting considering one of this year’s nominees, Pawel Pawlikowski didn’t seem to put much effort into campaigning for his film, “Cold War.”
Vanity Fair also shed light on the fact that Greta Gerwig, the last woman to be nominated in the category earned her recognition because a lot of money was poured into her campaign trail to ensure that people acknowledged her work for “Lady Bird”. In the list of top 100 films of 2018, only four woman directors had their movies make the list. Only four percent of those directors were women. Although the issue of gender inequality in the film industry seems to be recognized more and more, the problem is clearly still there.
Although the lack of female acknowledgement and respect in the film industry can be disheartening, if we continue the conversation, I believe this inequality will change.