Thursday morning, the 2019 Golden Globes nominations were announced with no women featured in the Best Director, Motion Picture category. And you know what? I am sick and tired of writing this story. Every! Damn! Year!
We went through this in 2018 when Greta Gerwig (Lady Bird) and Patti Jenkins (Wonder Woman) were snubbed. It was egregious then, and called out as such. But now, nearly 365 days after the women of Hollywood declared “Time’s Up” at this very ceremony, and Natalie Portman was hailed as our lord (lady?) and savior for calling out the gender imbalance from the stage, the exclusion of female nominees in this category feels actively antagonistic.
Not one woman, in a year that has blessed us with a refreshing number of female-helmed films, including Tamara Jenkins’ Private Life, Debra Granik’s Leave No Trace, and Lynne Ramsay’s You Were Never Really Here, which have garnered critical acclaim and accolades. In fact, all three were were nominated for 2019 Film Independent Spirit Awards, the only awards show to nominate more women than men. What about Chloe Zhao and The Rider, which won Best Picture at the Gotham Awards just last Monday? Or Marielle Heller for Can You Ever Forgive Me? Crystal Moselle for Skate Kitchen? Desiree Akhavan for The Miseducation of Cameron Post? No, not ringing any bells? Did the Hollywood Foreign Press Association not receive screeners for these fantastic and creative movies? Or do they just not care?
I guess this shouldn’t really come as a surprise. In the 74 years that the HFPA has been presenting these awards, only four women have ever been nominated for best director: Barbra Streisand (in 1983 for Yentl, and in 1991, for The Prince of Tides), Kathryn Bigelow (in 2009, for The Hurt Locker, and in 2012, for Zero Dark Thirty), and Sofia Coppola (in 2003 for Lost in Translation), and Ava DuVernay (in 2014 for Selma). Only one — Streisand — has ever taken home the eponymous trophy. And that was 35 years ago. DuVernay remains the only woman of color to have ever been nominated.
The lack of consideration for women directors is especially disappointing given the strides made this year in recognition for movies made by, and about people of color. Three out of the five films nominated for Best Motion Picture, Drama have Black leads (Black Panther, BlacKkKlansman, and If Beale Street Could Talk), as are three of the five films helmed by the directors that were nominated. Cuarón directed Roma, one of the year’s most phenomenal movies, about a domestic worker in 1970s Mexico; Lee’s BlacKkKlansman is a sharp, emotionally gutting look at racism in America wrapped in a buddy-cop comedy; and Farrelly’s Green Book, although controversial for its white-centered narrative, does its best to shed light on past (and present) indignities.
This is progress worth celebrating. But why does one have to come at the expense of the other?
Last year, Barbra Streisand took the stage to present the award for Best Motion Picture, Drama. Before handing it over to Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (no comment), she called on the HFPA to do better.
“Backstage I heard they said I was the only woman … to get the best director award, and you know, that was 198: That was 34 years ago,“ she said. “Folks, time’s up!”
The queen has spoken. Please, HFPA — do not make me write this again next year.