This year’s Golden Globes director nominations prove the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn. still has trouble recognizing the talents of women behind the camera.
Throughout its 75-year history, women have been nominated for best director at the Globes only seven times.
In 2017, presenter Natalie Portman called attention to the ceremony’s historical omission of female filmmakers before announcing the “all-male nominees.” For the second consecutive year after that, the same thing happened again.
The all-male lineup of filmmakers selected by the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn. and announced Monday included Bong Joon Ho (“Parasite”), Sam Mendes (“1917"), Todd Phillips (“Joker”), Martin Scorsese (“The Irishman”) and Quentin Tarantino (“Once Upon a Time ... in Hollywood”).
Among the women who were snubbed by the HFPA despite having directed acclaimed movies this year are Greta Gerwig (“Little Women”), Marielle Heller (“A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood”), Lulu Wang (“The Farewell”) and Lorene Scafaria (“Hustlers”). This marks Heller’s second consecutive snub after her Melissa McCarthy-led drama “Can You Ever Forgive Me?” was overlooked by the HFPA last year. Gerwig, similarly, was not nominated for her breakout film “Lady Bird” and went on to earn an Oscar nomination.
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By contrast, this year’s Spirit Awards nominees included two women in the director category: “Honey Boy” director Alma Har’el and Scafaria were both nominated alongside Robert Eggers (“The Lighthouse”), Julius Onah (“Luce”) and the Safdie brothers (“Uncut Gems”). At this year’s Gotham Independent Film Awards, Olivia Wilde was nominated for the ceremony’s Bingham Ray breakthrough director award for her debut “Booksmart.”
Likewise, the two best picture categories (drama and musical or comedy) are all from male directors. The only female-helmed films recognized in the nominations were Jennifer Lee’s “Frozen 2" (co-directed with Chris Buck) in the animation category and “The Farewell” and “Portrait of a Lady on Fire” in the foreign-language category.
Now in its 77th year, the HFPA has nominated only five women for the directing prize: Barbra Streisand (“Yentl” and “The Prince of Tides”), Jane Campion (“The Piano”), Sofia Coppola (“Lost in Translation”), Ava DuVernay (“Selma”) and Kathryn Bigelow (“The Hurt Locker” and “Zero Dark Thirty”). Streisand remains the sole winner of the award, which she won for “Yentl” in 1984.
But the inclusion problem isn’t unique to the Globes. In its 91-year history, only five women have been nominated for the director honor at the Academy Awards as well: Gerwig, Coppola, Bigelow, Lina Wertmüller and Campion. That means of the 355 total directing nominations awarded over the years, women were included just 1.41% of the time.
The dearth of female nominees in the directing category is almost certainly related to the fact that female filmmakers remain underrepresented by far among the top grossing films. The latest “Celluloid Ceiling” study, conducted annually by San Diego State University’s Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film, found that women accounted for just 8% of directors working on the top 250 films in 2018, down from 11% the previous year. In 1998, women comprised 9% of all directors so it’s not just that the numbers aren’t moving, they’re now actually regressing.
Beyond the awards, 2019 has been a strong year for movies directed by women. The year’s releases also included Melina Matsoukas’ “Queen & Slim,” Chinonye Chukwu’s “Clemency,” Céline Sciamma’s “Portrait of a Lady on Fire,” Elizabeth Banks’ “Charlie’s Angels,” Sophia Takal’s “Black Christmas,” Gurinder Chada’s “Blinded By the Light,” Andrea Berloff’s “The Kitchen,” Kasi Lemmons’ “Harriet,” Joanna Hogg’s “The Souvenir” and Jennifer Kent’s “The Nightingale.”
Next year, Chloe Zhao will helm Marvel’s hotly anticipated “The Eternals,” Cate Shortland will reveal the studio’s standalone Black Widow feature, and Cathy Yan will unveil DC’s Harley Quinn spinoff “Birds of Prey.” Nia DaCosta will release a reboot of the classic horror “Candyman,” plans for an adaptation of DC’s “The New Gods” is in the works with Ava DuVernay attached and Domee Shi is set to develop a feature film at Pixar.
Whether the HFPA will become more inclusive of female filmmakers remains to be seen.