Opinion

The Golden Globes' biggest snub was women. Again.

2019 was a banner year for female directors — until the Golden Globes

Marielle Heller and Greta Gerwig.

It has been almost two years since Natalie Portman leaned into the microphone at the 75th Golden Globes to announce the "all-male nominees" for Best Director. While the line got laughs and applause from the audience at the time, it seems that the Hollywood Foreign Press Association missed that her remark wasn't just a joke.

On Monday, the Golden Globes failed to nominate a single woman in the best directing category for the fourth year in a row — an omission made all the more egregious by the fact that 2019 was a banner year for women-helmed blockbusters.

Perhaps the most glaring name left off the list was Greta Gerwig. The director was previously nominated for an Oscar for her movie Lady Bird and returns this Christmas with her adaptation of Little Women, which has already earned rapturous praise from critics. Also surprising was the absence of Marielle Heller, who directed A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, another film that has received glowing reviews.

Similarly, Lorene Scafaria — who directed the hit Hustlers, starring Jennifer Lopez and Constance Wu — failed to make the Golden Globe's list of best directors. Neither did Olivia Wilde, whose debut, Booksmart, was hailed as one of 2019's sharpest comedies. Alma Har'el (Honeyboy), Claire Denis (High Life), Jennifer Kent (Nightingale), and Jennifer Lee (Frozen 2) also failed to make the cut. Instead, the Golden Globe's list of best directors included Martin Scorsese (The Irishman), Quentin Tarantino (Once Upon a Time in Hollywood), Bong Joon-ho (Parasite), Sam Mendes (1917) and Todd Phillips (Joker).

Women had a slightly better showing in the foreign language film category. While it's surprising that Lulu Wang, who directed the funny and powerful family drama The Farewell, didn't get a regular directing nod, her movie, with its Mandarin-heavy script, did land a nomination in the category typically reserved for features made abroad. Also nominated in the foreign language category was Portrait of a Lady on Fire, a moody and transfixing film by the French director Céline Sciamma. Aside from the foreign language category, though, no women filmmakers had their movies nominated for Best Motion Picture, Comedy or Musical; or Best Motion Picture, drama, either.

Sadly, the failure to acknowledge the accomplishments of women directors is par the course for the Golden Globes. In the ceremony's 77-year-history, just five women — five! — have ever been nominated for Best Director, Variety reports. Of that list — which includes Barbra Streisand's Prince of Tides in 1992; Jane Campion's The Piano in 1994; Sofia Coppola's Lost in Translation in 2004; Kathryn Bigelow's The Hurt Locker and Zero Dark Thirty in 2010 and 2013 respectively; and Ava DuVernay's Selma in 2015, only Streisand, with Yentl in 1984, has ever taken home a statuette.

The underrepresentation of women directors at awards ceremonies, including the Oscars, is sadly also reflective of the barriers in place for women directors in the industry at large. Still, recent indicators have been hopeful; one study that came out earlier this year found that "for the first time, women directors, writers, and executive producers [at film festivals such as SXSW, Tribeca, and AFI Fest] have all crossed the 30 percent line, which is the figure needed to be considered a critical mass," Women in Hollywood wrote. "Women represented 33 percent of indie fest directors last year, 32 percent of writers, and 32 percent of exec producers." Likewise, women fare much better behind the camera for projects on the small screen; Deadline writes that the "percentage of [television] episodes directed by women ... grew to a record 31 percent" in 2019, "more than doubling in the past five years."

Awareness campaigns, including displays by outspoken directors, actors, and actresses like Portman, have led to a greater public understanding of the disparity between male and female directors, as well as for louder demand for change. The 2019 Golden Globes, then, represents a flaunting of all that progress: Even as the industry is stepping, belatedly, into the 21st century with women being at last handed bigger projects, the acknowledgement of their contributions at the end of the year sorely lags.

The Oscar nominations, meanwhile, will be announced Jan. 13. With voting for those awards opening to Academy members on Jan. 2, one has to hope they're taking note now.

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