With every Oscar season comes a chorus of complaints from film lovers about the Academy’s nominations for the year. Whether it’s about how your favorite movie of the year got snubbed or your least favorite didn’t, it’s hard not to have an opinion. While Hollywood has been working to evolve into a more diverse industry, the Academy has not reflected that in their nominations and it’s starting to feel personal.
In 2015, the popular hashtag, #OscarsSoWhite, circulated around social media platforms, sparking conversation about the lack of praise given to films with a cast or crew of color. For the upcoming 91st Academy Awards, half of the best picture nominees feature either a non-white lead or a predominantly non-white cast, along with three films that feature LGBTQ+ leads. The Academy has taken huge strides towards recognizing films made by those other than straight white people, but I still have one more question for them: where are the women?
A woman has only been nominated for Best Director five times in the past century. Those women are Lina Wertmüller for Seven Beauties (1977), Jane Campion for The Piano (1994), Sophia Coppola for Lost In Translation (2004), Kathryn Bigelow for The Hurt Locker (2010), and Greta Gerwig for Lady Bird (2017). Kathryn Bigelow is the only female director to ever win an Academy Award for Best Director.
This year, the Academy has failed once again to nominate a woman for best director. Not only that, but there are no films in the Best Picture category that were directed by a woman. The most troubling part is that 2018 was a great year for female directors with movies such as You Were Never Really Here directed by Lynne Ramsay, Can You Ever Forgive Me? directed by Marielle Heller, The Rider directed by Chloe Zhao.
So why are women the only ones being left out of the running? It was reported in 2016 that the demographics of the Academy were 91 percent male and 76 percent white, and the average age of a member is 63, which makes sense that the Academy favors movies made by and featuring white men.
Hopefully, the backlash from the lack of female nominees serves as a wake-up call to not only the Academy but also the film industry as a whole. Film is one of the most reflective mediums when it comes to representing humanity and without women, it seems like we are missing a big perspective. Women have stories to tell too, and I hope to see them recognized like they deserve.