You may have heard about the five nominations for Best Director for the Academy Awards. They are, as follows, Bong Joon-ho, Sam Mendes, Todd Phillips, Martin Scorsese, and Quentin Tarantino. Every one of them is a man, which means, by process of elimination, none of them is a woman. This has garnered a lot of frustration and anger, particularly pointed toward the absence of Greta Gerwig for her film Little Women. Yes, Gerwig was not nominated for Best Director, though she did get a Best Adapted Screenplay nomination, and the first is up for Best Picture. While there is very much an issue here, that is not it.
We do a disservice to the issue by boiling this down to “Gerwig got snubbed.” Maybe you think that, but also maybe you don’t. This is a subject matter, after all. I have not seen Little Women yet, or 1917, which Sam Mendes got nomination for. In the end, though, only five directors can be nominated for Best Director. Hundreds of films are made every year, and only five can get a nod. Other directors, such as Noah Baumbach and Taika Waititi, didn’t get nominations either. Having all five directors up for this award being men is not in and of itself an issue. The problem is that everything is boiling down to Gerwig being snubbed. That’s where the problem lies.
Several other men were involved in the conversation about Best Director. No woman but Gerwig was mentioned. She had to, not by choice, be the stand in for all women. The issue is that only a handful of women are getting the opportunity to direct the kinds of film that get Oscar nominations. Hell, only a handful of women are getting to direct movies at all. There should be more women in the conversation for Best Director, and that should be the case every year. Only five women have ever been nominated for Best Director. That’s absurd. That’s, in a way, unconscionable.
What should happen in Hollywood is women getting more opportunity to direct prestige films. There are plenty of capable female directors out there. It shouldn’t be all about a few directors like Jane Campion and Gerwig. When we are talking Oscar buzz, and making our predictions, there should be a handful of female filmmakers in the mix. In the end, maybe all five nominees will be men, and that would be alright. However, that would happen a lot less often if women were getting a fair shake in Hollywood. So let’s not sit there and be angry about Gerwig not being one of five nominees this year (although, as an aside Todd Phillips!?). Instead, let’s focus on advocating for women at large to get more opportunity to make movies so that somebody like Gerwig isn’t shouldering the load for half the world’s population.