The 5 men up for the Best Director Academy Award are all worthy nominees.
To try and even suggest that one of Alfonso Cuaron (Roma), Adam McKay (Vice), Spike Lee (BlacKkKlansman) Pawel Pawlikowski (Cold War) or Yorgos Lanthimos (The Favourite) should be omitted would be cruel.
But, at this point, in 2019, the only thing more depressing than the fact just 5 females have ever been nominated for a Best Director Oscar is the fact Kathryn Bigelow (The Hurt Locker) is the only woman to have actually won the accolade.
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Which female directors should be Oscar nominated?
It was hoped that Greta Gerwig’s deserved nomination for Lady Bird last year would have started a new trend of women being rightfully recognized in the category. Especially because so many women have made so many formidable films over the last 12 months.
OK, some of these movies were in genres that the Academy has ignored for decades, even when the films have been directed by men. While the Academy would have especially struggled to recognize Susan Johnson for To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before, Claire Scanlon for Set It Up and Anne Fletcher for Dumplin’ as they were Netflix films.
But Kay Cannon’s hysterical direction of Blockers, which could have easily deflated had she not managed to eke out terrific performances from the eclectic older cast and the younger half of the ensemble, would have been a worthy, if admittedly shocking choice.
At the same time, On The Basis Of Sex’s Mimi Leader and Mary Queen Of Scots’ Josie Rourke will be feeling disappointed that their biopics failed to generate the necessary momentum required for a nomination, even though both films, which revolve around Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Queen Elizabeth/Mary Queen Of Scots, respectively, seemed like Oscar fodder.
You can understand why the Academy ignored all of the above. But there are three directors that should feel genuinely annoyed at being overlooked by the Oscars.
Tamara Jenkins’ direction of Private Life, which premiered on Netflix in October, has been widely celebrated. Not just by viewers, who became enamored by its tale of Paul Giamatti and Kathryn Hahn’s married couple struggling to adopt, but it rightfully earned Jenkins nominations at the Gotham, Satellite and Independent Spirit Awards.
Then there was Lynne Ramsay’s idiosyncratic, edgy yet hypnotic approach to You Were Never Really Here. Even though the pulpy crime thriller was propelled by one of the best performances of Joaquin Phoenix’s illustrious career, the dominant creative voice of the film is that of the Scottish director. Which is a feat most male directors that have worked with the actor have failed at.
But the most egregious oversight was Marielle Heller for Can You Ever Forgive Me?
It’s not just that the film has been nominated in the Best Actress, Best Supporting Actor and Best Adapted Screenplay fields. It's more that Heller was the woman who wrought out the startling performances from Melissa McCarthy and Richard E Grant, bonded them to create one of the finest cinematic pairings in the last decade, and all the while made sure the script sang with the wit, drama and poignancy that most directors would have either under or over-cooked.
We’ll see who ends up win the Best Director when the 91st Academy Awards unfolds on February 24, 2019. While hopefully the Academy will be much more open to potential female nominations when the 92nd Oscars rolls around.
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