Female directors left out of 2020 Oscar nominations


The 2020 Oscars are on Feb. 9. After the nominations were announced on Jan. 13, there was a lot of controversy surrounding the lack of women in the Best Director category. “That culture [of systemic bias towards white men] is really shutting out people for the highest recognition,” said Mrs. Melissa Wolfe-Izworski, English teacher and advisor of SHS HeForShe club. Photo courtesy of Creative Commons.

   “Congratulations to those men.” This statement made by actress Issa Rae after announcing the Oscar nominations for best director sums up the controversy surrounding the 2020 Oscars.


   For the second year in a row, no women were nominated for Best Director. In the history of the Oscars, only 5 women have ever been nominated in the category, and only one, Kathryn Bigelow, has ever won the award, for her 2008 film “The Hurt Locker.”


   The nominations for best director are Martin Scorsese for “The Irishman,” Todd Phillips for “Joker,” Sam Mendes for “1917,” Quentin Tarantino for “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood,” and Bong Joon Ho  for “Parasite.”


   While these directors deserve this nomination, there are also several deserving female directors who did not receive recognition, including Greta Gerwig for “Little Women,” Lulu Wang for “The Farewell,” Loren Scafaria for “Hustlers” and Marielle Heller for “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood.”


   Gerwig’s snub is especially disappointing given that “Little Women” received six other Oscar nominations including Best Picture. If Gerwig had been nominated for best director, she would have become the first woman to receive two nominations in the category, her first in 2018 for “Lady Bird.” 


   In an interview with PBS before the announcement of the 2020 nominations, Gerwig discussed the impact of her 2018 nomination. “I can’t tell you how much it means to me when girls who are starting in film school or art school come up to me and they say, ‘I wanted to do it because I saw you do it and I believe in that.’ And that connection with these girls who are so excited, and maybe believed a little bit more because they saw a woman nominated, I think that’s been incredibly meaningful,” Gerwig said.


   Mrs. Melissa Wolfe-Izworski, English teacher and advisor for HeForShe club, a club that advocates for gender equality, said although changes have been made, the awards show still has a “systemic bias towards white men, so there is a lack of diversity for people of color but also gender.” 


   Part of this issue stems from the demographics of who gets to vote for the Academy. 


   “If there is more diversity in who gets to vote, if more women vote, if more people of color vote, then there will be more diversity in the people who are receiving the awards as well,” said Wolfe-Izworski.