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Female Directors shut out of the 2019 Oscar nominations


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While entirely upsetting, it is not surprising that once again female directors have been shut out of the directing category for this years Oscars.

Kathryn Bigelow, the only woman to ever win an Oscar for Best Director // Image Credit: Sgt. Michael Connors - 302nd Mobile Public Affairs Detachment

After a big year for impactful films, and an important award season for female directors within the aftermath of the #MeToo movement, it is disappointing that on the morning of the 22nd of January, when Oscar nominations were announced in anticipation of the 91st Academy Awards, no female filmmakers were nominated for the directing category.

While many fans of both the nominated films and the awards show itself may have been speculating about the films that were to be chosen this year, viewers were noticeably unsurprised to see that the Academy has chosen to exclude women once again.


Despite several strong and qualified choices directed by female filmmakers, it seemed to be not quite enough for the Academy’s voting body, as the nominations for director were ultimately given to Spike Lee for “BlacKkKlansman”, Pawel Pawlikowski for “Cold War”, Yorgos Lanthimos for “The Favourite”,  Alfonso Cuarón for “Roma” and Adam McKay for “Vice”.


While many of these films that ultimately gained the best director nomination are undoubtedly deserving, the snub of notable films this year that were directed by women feels as if it is nothing but deliberate. This year’s awards season has garnered nothing but praise and positive reviews for many of the important and notable films created by female directors, yet still it seems as if the director category is one that will remain closed off.

While films and directors who have created projects with a greater social cause or message behind them have typically done well, it seems to not quite be the case this year. Female led films with a greater social message such as On the Basis of Sex directed by Mimi Leder, as well as favorably reviewed documentary RBG, directed by Betsy West and Julie Cohen both feature stories about the notable political and pop culture icon Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg were both passed over, as well as Lynne Ramsay's notable contribution “You Were Never Really Here”. This film received a Cannes screenplay prize during its debut and was awarded for a distinguished BAFTA nomination for outstanding British Film. It is Lynne Ramsay who is responsible for this recognition, as well as being one of the most illustrious filmmakers on this years awards circuit.


Perhaps the most talked about and particularly frustrating snub for this year’s director category is Marielle Heller’s “Can you ever forgive me?” based on the incredible true-life story of literary forger Lee Israel. The film stars Melissa McCarthy and Richard E. Grant, both of whom have received Oscar nominations for leading actress and supporting actor respectively. "Can you ever forgive me?" was well-received by fans and critics alike, and the film also earned itself an additional oscar nomination for best adapted screenplay.

Image Credit: Flickr: GabboT

Other noticeably overlooked films include Kathryn Kusama’s film Destroyer, starring Nicole Kidman, which has received incredible reviews, as well as Josie Rourke in her directorial debut Mary Queen of Scots, starring Saoirse Ronan and Margot Robbie.

The Oscars will be held on 25 February 2019, 1:00 am GMT.

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