What happened to the 'minority' directors?
Last month, my friend, Variety editor Tim Gray, wrote a preview of this year’s Oscar season where he took note of all the strong contenders directed by female, gay, African-American, or foreign filmmakers and said: “[I]t’s possible the best-director noms might not include a single English-speaking, Caucasian, straight male. It’s not likely, but, for the first time, it’s possible.” Now, I’m sure he never really thought that would actually end up happening, but it certainly seemed like non-straight-white-American-male filmmakers had a decent shot at scoring two or three of the eventual Best Director slots. But as the year comes to a close, many of the “minority” candidates seem to be falling by the wayside. For starters, let’s look at a trio of openly gay directors: Nine‘s Rob Marshall missed out on a Golden Globe nomination even as his film picked up five nods, Precious‘ Lee Daniels (pictured, above left) has been almost completely overlooked by the critics groups so far, and A Single Man‘s Tom Ford (pictured, center) seems to have a better shot in the adapted-screenplay race. Among the women, Bright Star‘s Jane Campion has seen her film fade from overall consideration in the last few weeks, while It’s Complicated‘s Nancy Meyers is a likelier original-screenplay nominee. It’s now looking like The Hurt Locker‘s Kathryn Bigelow may end up as the only “different” Oscar nominee, if the other four slots go to Up in the Air‘s Jason Reitman, Inglourious Basterds‘ Quentin Tarantino, Avatar‘s James Cameron, and Invictus‘ Clint Eastwood.
So can any other filmmaker who’s not a member of the American boys’ club break in? Maybe The White Ribbon‘s Austrian-born Michael Haneke? Or An Education‘s Lone Scherfig (pictured, right)? Considering only three women have ever been nominated for Best Director in the Oscars’ 82-year history, it would certainly be terrific to have two females nominated in the same year for the first time.
Image credit: Daniels: Anne Marie Fox; Ford: Eduard Grau; Scherfig: Kerry Brown