Out of the five filmmakers nominated for Best Director, how many do you think were women? Three? Greta Gerwig for Little Women, Lulu Wang for The Farewell, and Marielle Heller for A Beautiful Day In The Neighborhood? What about Lorene Scafaria for Hustlers?
Nope. Not four. Not three. Not two. Not even one. When the Oscars released their 2020 Academy Award nominees on January 13th, it was revealed that not a single woman would be recognized for her achievements in filmmaking.
One recent study from the Annenberg Foundation found that more blockbuster films are being directed by women than ever before. Out of the 113 directors responsible for the year’s top 100 films, 12 were women. Compare that with just five in 2018. Moreover, 4.8 percent of major directors are women on average, but this number jumped to 10.6 percent in 2019. There are more and more women behind the camera every year, yet the academy does not think they deserve the same time in the spotlight afforded to their male counterparts.
To make matters worse, the five films nominated for best director (Martin Scorsese’s The Irishman, Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, Bong Joon-ho’s Parasite, Sam Mendes’ 1917, and Todd Phillips’ Joker) are all notably male-centered films. Some straddle the line between toxic masculinity and outright misogyny.
Tarantino found himself in hot water upon the release of Once Upon a Time in Hollywood due to the fact that his only female lead is given less than twenty lines of dialogue. Sharon Tate, the actress whose real-life murder inspired the entire film, is played by Margot Robbie and treated as a sex symbol instead of a fully developed character. Phillips’ Joker depicts explicit violence against women. The titular protagonist suffocates one woman with a pillow and has romantic delusions about his female neighbor, leading to stalking and harassment.
The academy’s message is clear: women may produce some of the most successful films of the year, but they will not be welcomed into the boys club of prestigious, award-worthy cinema.