Journal Address

More female directors should be nominated for The Oscars


The nominees for the 2020 Academy Award for Best Picture represent the best films of 2019. Most of the nominated films contain diverse cast and crew, but while this category may embrace gender diversity, the Best Director category is lacking in that area. Compared with the people nominated for Best Picture or Best International Feature Film, the Best Director category is staggeringly male.

We, The Journal, believe more women should have been nominated in the Best Director category of the 2020 Academy Awards, and the Academy should prioritize including female directors in the future.

The 2020 nominees for Best Director include Bong Joon-ho, Martin Scorsese, Quentin Tarantino, Todd Phillips and Sam Mendes, all of whom have movies up for Best Picture. But Greta Gerwig, whose film “Little Women” is also up for Best Picture, and Tamara Kotevska, whose film “Honeyland” is nominated for Best International Feature Film, seem to not have been considered to compete for the award. If these women are able to create such great films on par with their male peers in a way that they are potential winners of Best Picture, Gerwig or Kotevska should have received a Best Director nomination.

In the 90 years since the first Academy Awards in 1929, there have only been five women nominated for Best Director: Lina Wertmüller (1976), June Campion (1993), Sofia Coppola (2003), Kathryn Bigelow (2009) and Greta Gerwig (2017). Bigelow is the only female nominee that has won the award. While the number of nominations has started to increase since 2000, the progress is still extremely slow and does not reflect the presence of female directors.

Perhaps there is a deeper reason for the lack of focus on women in the director’s chair. The Academy Awards are sponsored by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, also known as The Academy, an invitation-only organization with around 8,000 members of the film industry, according to their website. Members of the Academy vote for the winners of every category. In a study by the Los Angeles Times in 2012, it was revealed that Academy voters were nearly 94% white and around 77% male. With a majority white-male demographic, the female perspective within the organization’s membership is likely overlooked.

According to the USC Annenberg Inclusion Initiative Analysis published in January 2020, data from the website Metacritic reveals that female directors surpass male directors in film scores, 55.8 to 54.2. If female directors are receiving similar if not more positive critical reviews compared to male directors, their peers within The Academy should recognize that and hold them up to the same critical review as male directors when deciding the ballot for Best Director.

We, The Journal, hope that the 2021 Academy Award nominees for Best Director represent people from all genders. Members of the Academy should maintain open minds and weigh the work of male and female directors equally, in turn giving female directors the recognition they deserve. Representation leads to greater advances in the pursuit of equality.