As award season rears its head toward another year of red carpet glamour, social media has exploded with its usual outrage over nearly every nomination, or lack thereof. However, one major complaint seems to be a persistent theme of the Academy Awards: the domination of male directors.
In recent years, movie-goers have finally taken notice, and issue, with the disproportionate amount of men nominated for best direction. This year is no exception. All five of the nominees for best director are men.
While all of the nominees are extremely talented and successful filmmakers, it should be noted that men are not the only ones making movies. Other female-directed films were nominated for several awards and received high praise from critics and audiences alike, but the spot of best director seemed to elude all of them.
Movies such as Marielle Heller’s A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, Kasi Lemmons’s Harriet, Lorene Scafaria’s Hustlers and Greta Gerwig’s Little Women all received wide acclaim for their unique storytelling tactics, yet they were consistently overshadowed by their male directed counterparts and thus fell short in the nominations.
In the entire 92-year history of the Academy Awards, only five women have ever been nominated for best direction. To make matters worse, only one woman has ever won this category.
Despite a growing audience hunger for female storytellers, award panels consistently ignore female-directed films, making the Academy Awards more like a boy’s club than an impartial system of judgment.
Because a film’s awards and notoriety are often tied to the actors’ and director’s later success, the severe lack of awards for female directors suggests that they are less successful when compared to male directors. However, all one would need to do is observe a scene from Gerwig’s Little Women or Olivia Wilde’s directorial debut Booksmart to appreciate the visual storytelling choices that should qualify them for an Academy Award nomination at the very least.
Women have proven their directorial abilities time and time again, especially in 2019, but they have not received the recognition they deserve for their revolutionary contributions to the world of film. This does not mean that their work must go in vain; but to make and encourage progress for women filmmakers, society must show support and respect for their achievements.
The current system discourages female excellence. It shows women that no matter how hard they try or how outstanding their work may be, they will never be rewarded at the same level as the men in their field.
By including more women in the best direction category, the Academy would display a new era of filmmaking where all perspectives would not only be respected, but praised. Their current lack of representation of female directors silences the unique stories women have to tell.