The Death of Sexism in Hollywood Cinema is Long Overdue

2019 was a great year for female directors, but the Academy Awards failed to recognize that

(Kristen Frier)

Hollywood’s most elite award show faced issues again this year due to its failure to be inclusive towards people of all races, sexualities, and genders in its nominations. The public wants to see more diversity, but it seems that the Academy is heading in the wrong direction.

Through their nominations, the Academy failed to acknowledge many remarkable films from 2019. They gave a large number of their nominations to films like Joker, The Irishman, and Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. They were all great films, but it seems completely unnecessary to give a majority of the nominations to, you guessed it, white men.

Some of the biggest films this year were Céline Sciamma’s Portrait of a Lady on Fire, Lulu Wang’s The Farewell, Lorene Scafaria’s Hustlers, and Greta Gerwig’s Little Women — all directed by women, and all notable films that should had been recognized by the Academy.

2019 was undeniably a big year for women who direct, and still the nominations for this year’s best director were presented to five men.

Female directors are hardly ever chosen to be nominated by the Academy. Throughout its 92 years of awarding on-screen excellence, only five females have ever been nominated for best director, only one of whom — Kathryn Bigelow — won for her film The Hurt Locker.

Movie critics are in disbelief about the Academy’s decision to nominate Todd Phillips, director of The Hangover and Joker, over Greta Gerwig for her impressive work with recreating Little Women. Yes, Phillips did place himself outside of his genre comfort zone and directed one of 2019’s top-rated movies, but it likely would not have even been considered without the phenomenal work of Joaquin Phoenix, who essentially carried the movie.

Little Women ratings were much higher than the majority of films nominated for best director this year, scoring 95 per cent on Rotten Tomatoes. It seems the Academy completely forgot to acknowledge the effort and talent of its cast and crew.

Gerwig and other female directors of 2019 should have received recognition for their talents, but yet again, the Academy refuses to acknowledge their work — as if they need to jump through more hoops in order to be considered for a nomination.

In 2016, the Board of the Academy released a statement promising that they were working towards a more inclusive and diverse team of members in charge of the decisions for the award show. They stated, “the Board’s goal is to commit to doubling the number of women and diverse members of the Academy by 2020.” Even if they did achieve this goal, this year’s nominations indicate that there has been no change in representation at the awards themselves.

Where does this leave the Oscars? Fans of the award show are frustrated with this year’s poor decision-making and promotion of white, male privilege within cinema. If the Academy’s diversity problems remain unresolved — which seems to be where they are headed — the show will only go downhill from here on out, losing fans and viewers despite being one of Hollywood’s biggest award shows.