If the last months of 2017 were supposed to herald in some era of major change in Hollywood, today's Golden Globes nominations proved otherwise. For the second year in a row, no woman was nominated in the Best Director category, despite several worthy contenders.
No Patty Jenkins, whose Wonder Woman has inspired so many; no Dee Rees, whose critically acclaimed Mudbound compellingly tackles relevant issues of race and gender; and no Greta Gerwig, whose directorial debut, Lady Bird, was ironically the best reviewed-film in Rotten Tomatoes history until yesterday, when a male critic down-voted it.
Instead, here's who does appear on the list: Guillermo del Toro (Shape of Water); Martin McDonaugh (Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri); Christopher Nolan (Dunkirk); Steven Spielberg (The Post); Ridley Scott (All The Money In The World).
Five white men.
It's so disappointing, first because these female-helmed movies are important contributions to this year's canon of cinema, and the women behind them deserved to be recognized. Lady Bird marked a rare opportunity for viewers to identify with a female coming of age story; Mudbound highlighted the privilege that white women still hold over their Black peers, even as they themselves are cowed by the patriarchy; and Wonder Woman gave us a glimpse of what it looks like to smash those same forces holding women back to pieces. All these films were engrossing, beautifully shot and carefully crafted narratives with the depth and finesse that comes with having a gifted director.
But even if you look past merit, the lack of women in a category such as Best Director speaks to an unmoving, unchanging culture of male dominance in the halls of power in Hollywood. Despite the conversations that have been taking place over the last two months, since The New York Times broke its major exposé about the allegations of sexual harassment and assault against Harvey Weinstein, despite all the women who have shared their stories, and despite the litany of men who have been toppled from positions of influence, it wasn't enough to sway the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, which chooses the nominees for the Golden Globes.
As the first major awards show leading up to the Oscars in March, the Golden Globes would have been the perfect opportunity to make a statement. It could have been the chance to say, "We hear what's been going on, and we're with you." But instead, it's business as usual.
Only one woman has won a Golden Globe for Best Director in the show's 74-year-history: Barbra Streisand, who took home the award for Yentl in 1984. Rees would have been the second woman of color ever to be nominated in this category. (Ava DuVernay, nominated for Selma in 2015, was the first.) By eschewing to nominate any women, the HFPA is essentially saying that they don't believe that we should even be given the chance to rectify these past omissions. The message I'm getting is that no woman in the past 33 years has made a movie worthy of being considered above those created by men.
The fact that Wonder Woman wasn't nominated for a single category, despite its monumental success at the box office and universal praise, is especially telling. That would require an acknowledgment that female stories, told from a female point of view, matter as much as those of men. And apparently, that's not a concession Hollywood is willing to make.
That's not to say that all these films have been totally ignored. Lady Bird has a Best Picture, Comedy or Musical nod, as does Saoirse Ronan, for Best Actress, and Gerwig received a nomination for Best Screenplay (the eighth woman ever to be recognized in that category). Mary J. Blige was nominated for Best Supporting Actress for her role in Mudbound, which also received a nomination for Best Original Song. But weighed against their relevance in the public conversation taking place around this year's crop of award-worthy films, these feel like token nominations.
Only 10 days ago Gerwig, and Jordan Peele (also snubbed in the Best Director category for Get Out) appeared on the cover of Vanity Fair as the two directors to watch during this year's "unpredictable" awards race. Inside the tagline read: "With Lady Bird and Get Out, Greta Gerwig and Jordan Peele are making a splash in Hollywood’s mostly male, mostly white directing pool. How did two outsiders change the narrative?"
Those words seem almost laughable now.
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