“And here are all the male nominees,” said actress Natalie Portman back in 2018 as an aside to the deep chasm that lies between the male and female representation in the entertainment industry. Despite the glaring veracity of her criticism, the Hollywood Foreign Press Association behind the Golden Globes remained unfazed as it announced award nominations for 2020.
Before I begin my spiel, I’d like to clarify that this is not some distortion of facts to turn some newsworthy event to a spiteful feminist rant. I sincerely remain an advocate for keeping award ceremonies worthy of exuding talent and immense hard work. It shouldn’t be singing sonnets about the inclusion of all facets of society just to keep everyone happy; that representation comes not at the award-giving stage, rather, adequate representation comes in the pre-production phase.
Men aren’t the only ones to be thanked for the hits of 2019.
But first, let me introduce the nominees for ‘Best Director’ for the 77th Annual Golden Globes. The finalists in the category were announced earlier this month as the perceived best that Hollywood had to offer this year. Starting with Bong Joon Ho for Parasite, Sam Mendes for 1917, Todd Phillips for Joker, Martin Scorsese for The Irishman, and lastly Quentin Tarantino for Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.
Not one nomination is undeserving – personally, my fingers are crossed for Joker – but if we are to look at the other end of the spectrum, in the laudable projects released in 2019, men aren’t the only ones to be thanked for them.
Take Hustlers, which, apart from being one of the biggest projects in JLo’s career, raked in $150.5 million at the Box Office under the ingenious stewardship of Lorene Scafaria. It’s premised on Jessica Pressler’s December 2015 New York Magazine article, “The Hustlers at Scores“, on strippers-cum-dancers playing Robin Hood and sponging mega Wall street-ers of their money.
Then comes Greta Gertwig’s Little Women, a follow-up adaptation of Louisa May Alcott’s eponymous novel. Shot in mid-19th-century Massachusetts, the film follows the saccharinely hearty tales of four sisters who are carving out their own paths. Given the conservative backdrop, Gerwig’s visionary display of feminine power fails to fall short of anything but an altruistic dream.
Another comedy-drama that fell through the cracks is Lulu Wang’s The Farewell. It’s a disarming account exploring the fragility of human relations. You will laugh and, even more so, you will cry as you witness prickly conversations between family members.
Looking at these applaud-worthy female-driven projects being snubbed (again) this time around, Alma Har’el’s words can’t help but ring in my ears. “I was on the inside for the first time this year. These are not our people and they do not represent us. Do not look for justice in the awards system,” she tweeted.
Keep fighting for more women & POC behind the camera by supporting their films.
Don’t make your end game the political money that trades hands in the form of movie campaigns for people who can’t see us and recognize us.
— Alma Har'el? (@Almaharel) December 9, 2019
If you are familiar with the trajectory of Golden Globes, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that this year served no differently. In 77 years of the Golden Globes’ history, only five women directors have made the cut with Barbra Streisand being nominated twice (Yentl in 1984 and The Prince of Tides in 1992). Looking at such descending statistics, the only thought on my mind is, “It’s taken them this long to call sexism?”
I’m optimistic that the next decade won’t follow in this one’s footsteps.
What’s worse is the fact that most of the films I have sat through have been envisioned by men and men alone? The image that Hollywood curated in my mind has been the brainchild of a man’s perspective? Which begs the question that any worthwhile lesson onscreen on female autonomy or sense of comrade or aspirations for the future is men-centric for this reason? How could Golden Globes place female nominees on the table when there are hardly any, to begin with?
On a happier note, change (albeit small) seems to be surfacing in recent years: Rebecca Goldman, COO at Time’s Up Foundation, said: “Who directs feature films matters. It affects what stories are told — and how — with far-reaching implications for women across the film industry and our broader society. This year, there have been twice as many women-led features than ever, with more films by female directors on the way.”
That being said, there’s always next year, they say. I’m optimistic that the next decade won’t follow in this one’s footsteps.