Ms. Magazine is spotlighting the dearth in nominations (and wins) for female directors at the Academy Awards, with Kathryn Bigelow as the big glaring proving-the-rule exception:
This year, prognostications suggest that there won’t be any women nominated as Best Director, since no women directors were nominated by the Director’s Guild of America for their annual award–despite the fact that Lisa Cholodenko’s The Kids Are All Right and Debra Granik’s Winter’s Bone are considered to be among the year’s best films (The Kids Are All Right won the Golden Globe for Best Comedy). To be fair, though, the highly respected Coen Brothers of True Grit and Danny Boyle of 127 Hours were stiffed by the DGA as well.
Just because women don’t get nominated doesn’t mean they’re not producing award-worthy work, of course. Check out this comprehensive Metacritic ranking of the “Best Women Film Directors (and Their Films),” which drives home the point that women directors are too-rarely recognized at the prestigious Cannes Film Festival, let alone at the Academy Awards, but their lack of honors does not correlate to a lack of quality. In fact, writer Jason Dietz notes that two of last summer’s most critically praised U.S. films were the aforementioned Winter’s Bone and The Kids Are All Right. And many of us can recall other terrific women-directed features of the past year (on my list is Nicole Holofcener’s Please Give and Lena Dunham’s Tiny Furniture).
Nonetheless, women directors still don’t receive enough opportunities to direct big-budget films. Research by the Center for the Study of Women in Television & Film at San Diego State University in California showed that, in 2009, women accounted for just 7 percent of directors for the top 250 domestic grossing films–a drop of 2 percent since the previous year but within the same steady range of the past 25 years. As James Brown would say, Kathryn Bigelow notwithstanding, this is a man’s world.
An update from Ms. Magazine today about this topic: two foreign films by women may still earn Oscar nod.
For more on women in Hollywood from a feminist perspective, see the Women & Hollywood blog.