“And here are the all-male nominees.”
Natalie Portman made the condemning comment at the last Golden Globe Awards, when she was presenting the year’s contenders for director. Standing onstage in a black gown — the agreed-upon sign to show solidarity with sexual assault victims and raise awareness for the new gender parity initiative Time’s Up — the actress-turned-director drew attention to the award show’s historical omission of female filmmakers: Throughout its 75-year history, women have been nominated for best director only seven times.
However, the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn. must be quite fine with its problematic behavior, as Thursday morning’s nomination announcement again did not include any female directors. Instead, this year’s nominees for director are Adam McKay (“Vice”), Alfonso Cuaron (“Roma”), Bradley Cooper (“A Star Is Born”), Peter Farrelly (“Green Book”) and Spike Lee (“BlacKkKlansman”).
This particular handful of helmers was selected by the HFPA despite the numerous women who have directed acclaimed movies this year, including Lynne Ramsay (“You Were Never Really Here”), Tamara Jenkins (“Private Life”), Debra Granik (“Leave No Trace”), Marielle Heller (“Can You Ever Forgive Me?”), Chloe Zhao (“The Rider”), Karyn Kusama (“Destroyer”) and Josie Rourke (“Mary Queen of Scots”), to name a few. (Three of them — Granik, Jenkins and Ramsay — were nominated for Spirit Awards this year.)
Likewise, this year’s nominated titles in the animation category, as well as the two best picture categories (drama and musical or comedy), are all directed by men. The only female-helmed film recognized in the nominations was Lebanon’s “Capernaum,” which is directed by Nadine Labaki.
Elsewhere, women are also absent in the category for best score. The only woman included in the screenwriting category is Deborah Davis, who shares screenplay credit on "The Favourite" with Tony McNamara.
The only category that includes women as its majority is the original song category, as four of the five nominated songs feature a female as a writer and performer: SZA of “All the Stars” from “Black Panther,” Dolly Parton and Linda Perry of “Girl in the Movies” from “Dumplin’,” Annie Lennox of “Requiem for a Private War” from “A Private War,” and Lady Gaga of “Shallow” from “A Star Is Born.” (The fifth nominated song is “Revelation” from “Boy Erased.”)
The HFPA has a history of sexist snubs, particularly when it comes to the directing prize. Now in its 76th year, the group has only ever nominated five women for the honor: 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 is the only woman who took home the award — in 1984, for “Yentl.”
One might argue that women have been left out of the awards’ directing category because, well, women don’t direct enough movies — and that’s probably part of the problem too. In fact, the latest “Celluloid Ceiling” study, conducted annually by San Diego State University’s Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film, looked at 2017’s top 250 highest-grossing domestic films and found that women directed 11% of them. That’s a notch of growth compared to 2016 (7%) but still the same as that of 2000.
Golden Globes aside, 2018 has been a notable year for movies directed by women, as the year’s releases also included DuVernay’s “A Wrinkle in Time,” Mimi Leder’s “On the Basis of Sex,” Kay Cannon’s “Blockers,” Susanna Fogel’s “The Spy Who Dumped Me,” Nicole Holofcener’s “The Land of Steady Habits,” Haifaa al-Mansour’s “Nappily Ever After,” Laurie Collyer’s “Furlough,” Desiree Akhavan’s “The Miseducation of Cameron Post,” Olivia Newman’s “First Match,” Sara Colangelo’s “The Kindergarten Teacher,” Susanne Bier’s “Bird Box,” Jennifer Yuh Nelson’s “The Darkest Minds,” Crystal Moselle’s “Skate Kitchen,” Josephine Decker’s “Madeline's Madeline,” Augustine Frizzell’s “Never Goin' Back,” Heather Graham’s “Half Magic,” Daryl Hannah’s “Paradox,” Shana Feste’s “Boundaries,” Eva Vives’ “All About Nina,” Elizabeth Chomko’s “What They Had,” Bethany Ashton Wolf’s “Forever My Girl, and many, many more. (Seriously.)
Also, 2018 saw headline-making hires for studio projects, like Heller for Sony’s Mr. Rogers biopic “You Are My Friend,” Zhao for Marvel’s “The Eternals” flick, DuVernay for DC’s “The New Gods” adaptation, Cate Shortland for Marvel’s standalone Black Widow feature, S.J. Clarkson for Paramount’s fourth “Star Trek” film, Julia Hart for Disney’s “Stargirl” adaptation, Greta Gerwig for Columbia’s “Little Women” retelling, Melina Matsoukas for Universal’s romance “Queen & Slim,” Ry Russo-Young for Warner Bros.’ “The Sun Is Also a Star” adaptation, Cathy Yan for DC’s Harley Quinn spinoff “Birds of Prey” and Domee Shi for an upcoming Pixar animated movie, among others.