Oscar nominations 2012: Mind the gender gap!
Two years after Kathryn Bigelow made history by becoming the first woman to win the Best Director Oscar for The Hurt Locker, the gender gap between Academy-acknowledged directors is still very real. Witness the man-centric short list announced this morning: Woody, Marty, Terry, Alexander Payne, and Michel Hazanavicius. Certainly, those directors accomplished amazing things and deserve their nominations, but it’s also worth noting that there wasn’t even a single female director in the pre-nominations conversation.
Certainly, the lack of female directors overall is a major stumbling block. A study was released today that showed female directors only accounted for 5% of the films made in 2011. Among that list are many formidable women: Phyllida Lloyd whose The Iron Lady received two nods, Gotham Breakthrough Director Award winner Dee Rees of Pariah, and We Need To Talk About Kevin‘s BAFTA-nominated Lynne Ramsay. Granted that already makes a shot at Oscar glory an uphill battle for lady helmers, especially when you consider it’s nearly half of the percentage (9%) of females behind the camera in 1998.
Of course, none of this justifies or explains why there have been only four female Best Director nominees in Oscar history: Bigelow, Lina Wertmüller for 1976’s Seven Beauties, Jane Campion for 1993’s The Piano, and Sofia Coppola for 2003’s Lost in Translation. Considering it’s Oscar’s 84th year, that’s well below the 5% (in fact, it’s 0.95%).
What is it that’s keeping female directors from rising to the top? From being a thing at all? Are studios afraid to trust women? Is Hollywood — with its wheeling and dealing — still too much of a boys club to let the ladies get in on the action? And is there any hope for change?