We Need to Support Female Directors if Hollywood Won’t
by Jonas Barnes
It’s awards season! You know what that means, right? It means our television and computer screens will be covered in a bukkake of celebrity news for the foreseeable future up until the big show!
It also means that we will be reminded of films in 2019 that we saw or need to revisit because we missed them in 2019. Recently, I dropped my list of top indie films on this very website. The number one spot went to “The Nightingale”, directed by the brilliant Jennifer Kent. And that’s exactly why I’m writing this, actually. For yet another year, female directors like Jennifer Kent got the snub and I think we should talk about it.
The crop of films this year is great. I’ve seen all of them, some multiple times. But those aren’t the films I want to talk about. Here is a PARTIAL list of films directed by women of which the director got no love:
“The Farewell” (Lulu Wang)
“A Beautiful Day In The Neighbourhood” (Marielle Heller)
“The Nightingale” (Jennifer Kent)
“Booksmart” (Olivia Wilde)
“Honey Boy” (Alma Har’el)
“The Souvenir” (Joanna Hogg)
“Clemency” (Chinonye Chukwu)
“Hustlers” (Lorene Scafaria)
That’s a partial list by a lot. There’s a whole lot more but I want you to look at just those films and realize that not one of them was nominated for best director…and there’s really no reason for it.
Hollywood has had an issue with being a “Boys Club” so to speak for quite awhile. Directors, producers and studio heads tend to be the heaviest hitters in that club to the point where a female helmer getting award recognition happens every 3-4 years AT BEST.
Harvey Weinstein was protected for years by this boys club while he assaulted and harassed women in the business, never being made to step down until an overwhelming amount of women came forward. That’s the extreme version of the boys club but it’s also a blueprint of the big problem within Hollywood.
That’s the extreme version of the “Boys Club” but it’s also a blueprint for the big problem within Hollywood. Female directors are simply not looked at in the same light as male directors, in my opinion, and it shows every year that the award nominations come out. It’s as if the male directors are in a bubble with the male studio heads, only allowing a female in every now and again.
Let me be clear about something: More than half of the movies I listed above that were directed by women were more technically sound and directed better than “The Irishman”. Scorcese is an incredible filmmaker but “The Irishman” was a long, drawn-out slog of a film that used shoddy CGI and laughably old actors in digital “young face” falling down like a life alert commercial actor after being shot in the head.
Some films (like “1917”, “Joker” & “Parasite”) absolutely deserved the Best Director nod, but you mean to tell me that “The Farewell” wasn’t directed better than “The Irishman”…? Get the fuck outta here! I know Scorcese is a legend but you absolutely cannot put that movie in the same league as the other 4 nominated films, or many of the female directed films I listed above. Objectively speaking, it’s just not as well done as them.
The Oscars and The Golden Globes were both guilty of the female snub this year, and it continues to be an issue in Hollywood. Women keep putting out very, very high quality films and the industry keeps overlooking them. So what do we do?
Well, we’re not on the panel deciding these nominations so we’re fucked as far as that goes. But what we CAN do is go see more female directed films so they don’t die in theater obscurity, rotting away on the smallest screen at the cinema house for their measly 3 week run (I’m looking at you, “Harriet”).
We can voice our opinions with our wallets because the panel does actually pay attention to that. So the next time you make a movie decision, buy a ticket to a female-directed movie. Start showing Hollywood that women are directing some damn good films and they deserve the recognition for it.