This has been a season of reckoning in Hollywood, ever since the #MeToo movement took off in October, and calling out a surprising amount of men who had been fixtures in the industry with it. As the "Super Bowl of the Movie Industry," the Oscars are going to be in the spotlight this year in terms of their nominees. But the last few years haven't shown them to be able to read the room, causing hashtags like #OscarsSoWhite to spring up. Would the Oscars snub female directors this year? Or did they have enough time to course correct? They did! Greta Gerwig was one of the five Best Director nominees for her work on Ladybird in the Best Director category for the 2018 Oscars.
Gerwig is joined by four men: Christopher Nolan for Dunkirk, Jordan Peele for Get Out, Paul Thomas Anderson for Phantom Thread, and Guillermo del Toro for The Shape of Water.
The Oscars are lucky in that they go last in the Awards Season circuit. One might say the Golden Globes were unlucky in that they went first. Here they were trying to make all the right noises and sound in step with the dramatic sea change happening around them. Then, they started reading out the nominations, only to realize afterwards that their Best Director Category was all men, in a year when several women were not only eligible, but worthy.
This accidental revelation of unconscious bias against female directors was only made even worse when the film Ladybird, which was directed by Greta Gerwig, took home trophy after trophy in the film category... except in Best Director, where they had failed to nominate her.
The Oscar's voting for nominations closes about ten days after the Golden Globes are held. That's both in order to take into account all the various Guild nominations, and to see what the fallout is from the Globe's winners after they are announced. With public opinion firmly on the side of Gerwig having been wronged, and the Directors Guild of America making sure to include her in their nominations a few days later, it's almost a certainty that late-breaking voters pushed to include her. (The Globes were held the Jan. 7, the DGA nominations were announced on Jan. 11, and the nominations period for the Oscars closed on Jan 12.)
But in terms of female directors, despite other directors also being snubbed, like Patty Jenkins for Wonder Woman and Dee Rees for Mudbound, Gerwig was realistically the only one with a shot at this category. She was the DGA's only female nominee this year. Wonder Woman had been snubbed across the board as a "crowd-pleasing blockbuster," which is a type of film both the Golden Globes and the Oscar voters routinely pretend not to have seen, despite the sheer scale of their box office returns suggesting otherwise.
Mudbound has its own problems. Despite being a film that would both give Oscar voters cred to nominate for having a female director, and cast that is over 50 percent African American so that the industry could finally shake off that #OscarsSoWhite hashtag, it was distributed by Netflix.
While there are undoubtedly those in the voting community who understand that streaming services are the wave of the future, up until this year, the Oscars have never stooped to acknowledge either Netflix or Amazon, despite their big-budgeted attempts to become players in the game. That Mary J. Blige managed to land a nomination for her work in this film to begin with is a testament to her performance, but at least the Globes and the SAG Awards are used to nominating actors who appear in Netflix shows due to their newfound dominance in the small screen categories. The Oscars on the other hand, are a completely different kettle of fish.
Still, Mudbound broke through the barrier this morning with a rash of nominations, including one for Miss Blige. Too bad they couldn't manage one for Best Director, though.
Congrats to all the nominees. The Oscars air live on March 4, 2018 at 8 p.m. ET on ABC.