The HFPA Acknowledges That They Shut Women Out Of The Best Director Category This Year

December 10, 2019 / Posted by:

Two years ago, at the 2018 Golden Globe Awards, Natalie Portman called out the Hollywood Foreign Press Association for not nominating a single female director, while announcing the winners of Best Director. The HFPA must have been been in the bathroom during Natalie’s moment, because the following year they failed to nominate any female directors. And they did the same this year too. The 2020 Best Director category once again featured an all-male lineup. People on the internet were quick to accuse the HFPA of awards-based bullshit. And the HFPA heard their complaints, but it sounds like they’re not really too bothered by it.

Back in 2018, some of the most glaring omissions to the Best Director category were the absence of Greta Gerwig, who directed Lady Bird, a film that went on to win the award for Best Musical or Comedy, and Dee Rees, who directed the critically acclaimed Mudbound. A woman hadn’t been nominated in the Best Director category since 2014, when Ava DuVernay was nominated for directing Selma.

This year, there were plenty of female directors who both qualified and were getting awards show buzz for big-budget films. Like Greta Gerwig for Little Women, Lulu Wang for The Farewell, Lorene Scafaria for Hustlers, or Marielle Heller for A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood. Variety also points out that Ava DuVernay’s miniseries When They See Us was completely ignored, despite being nominated for 11 Primetime Emmy Awards. Alma Har’el, who directed Honey Boy (a movie that is also getting Oscar buzz), addressed the situation on Twitter.

A rep for Time’s Up released a statement to Variety regarding the matter, saying:

“This year, there have been twice as many women-led features than ever, with more films by female directors on the way. And yet, as today’s nominations show, women – and especially women of color – continue to be pushed to the sidelines by a system that holds women back, onscreen and off.”

Even one of the nominees of the Best Director category spoke out. Bong Joon-Ho, who was nominated for Parasite, said that he loved Lulu Wang’s The Farewell, and wondered why it was put in the Best Foreign Language category instead of being included in the Best Picture category (it was produced by A24, which technically makes it an American film). Bong Joon-Ho’s Parasite was also missing from Best Picture, due to it featuring more than 50% non-English dialogue. But he got the Best Director nom, and Lulu didn’t.

Variety spoke to HFPA president Lorenzo Soria on Monday after the nominations were released, and he was asked, “What happened?” with the Best Director category’s lack of women. Lorenzo gave Variety the verbal equivalent of an eye-roll.

“What happened is that we don’t vote by gender. We vote by film and accomplishment. That’s the process of how we vote.”

Luckily for Lorenzo, Golden Globes producer Barry Adelman stepped in and offered up a less, “Why u mad tho?” explanation. He said:

“Every year, somebody gets left out. There’s so much talent going on, maybe we need to expand the categories so more people can be part of it. I also think that if you look at some of the other things…a lot of the big television shows are created by women, so I think across the board there is a good representation. Maybe in a couple of those categories, we wish it could be a little different. Who knows what will happen next year.”

It probably could have been a little different had Lorenzo and his friends voted just a bit more critically. I can’t believe not one person in the room asked, “Let’s be realistic here – how much serious directing effort and skill does it really take to tell Joaquin Phoenix to act like a crazy person?

Pic: Twitter

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