This was a banner year for women directors in Hollywood. Marielle Heller directed A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, Olivia Wilde debuted with Booksmart, Lulu Wang broke hearts with The Farewell, Lorene Scafaria created Hustlers, and, of course, Greta Gerwig remade Little Women. And that's just the tip of the iceberg as Captain Marvel, Frozen II, and other blockbusters also had women at the helm. But somehow, despite all of this, zero women received 2020 Oscar nominations for directing. As Issa Rae said after the list was read: "Congratulations to those men."
The worst part is that the Oscars are supposed to do better than this. Ever since Time's Up was formed back in 2017, there's been a general push in Hollywood to recognize the achievements of women as equal to men. That the Golden Globes snubbed women directors this year was bad enough. Still, at least there was historical precedence that shows the Hollywood Foreign Press was deliberately refusing to nominate women, as the Globes have nominated all-male slates for several years running now.
The Academy, on the other hand, seemed to be listening, or at least it did in 2018 when it nominated Gerwig for Best Director for Lady Bird. But 2019 brought an all-male slate of nominees, and this year is no different.
Twitter was not having it. Not in a year where there were so many very obvious contenders sitting right there. Issa Rae's response live on-air summed up that the Academy is going to be taking it in the teeth for this choice between now and when the ceremony airs.
For others on Twitter, the lack of a female directing nomination was merely symptomatic of the issues across the board.
That's because the shut outs weren't just about women directors, but women's stories in general. Frozen II, a story about women finding their power, was shut out from the Best Animation category, an unheard-of snub for Disney's princess franchise. (The "Best Animated Film" category was created after Beauty & The Beast was nominated for Best Picture in 1992.) Hustlers, a story of women taking revenge on the capitalist patriarchy that doesn't respect them, was snubbed as well. The Farewell, which won Awkwafina a surprise Golden Globe, was shut out completely.
Only A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood and Little Women were given any sort of due. The former was recognized not for the woman who created it, but the man who starred as Fred Rogers, Tom Hanks. The latter, thankfully, was recognized in several categories, including Best Actress (Saoirse Ronan), Best Supporting Actress (Florence Pugh), Best Adapted Screenplay, and Best Picture. But those were small comforts. Overall, the Oscars still have a long way to go.