The list of movies eligible for an Academy Award came out this past week. There are 282 eligible. See the rules for more information on what makes a movie eligible. Guess how many were directed by women?
Nope. Lower. Try again.
They are 39.
Of those 39, five are foreign films, two are animated and five are documentaries. So, only 14% of the movies even eligible for a nomination are directed by women.
Let’s drill down a bit further to see who votes for these movies. According to the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts & Sciences, “There are three ways to become a candidate for membership in the academy: land an Oscar nomination; apply and receive a recommendation from two members of a branch; or earn an endorsement from the branch’s membership committee or the academy staff.
The membership committees then vote on the candidates and those who get a majority are invited to join.” http://www.oscars.org/academy/members/invitations.html
A study released this past February, of the 5,100 members of the Academy who voted last year (representing 89% of the membership), 94% are white and 77% are male. Only 2% are Black and less than 2% are Latino. Do people tend to vote for things that resonate with them? Of course. At this rate, the number of women who break into the Academy and shift the movies that win Oscars will take a century. Until there is a better representation of our society within the academy, white men will continue to do the voting and pick the movies that they like best. If you are a woman or a person of color in the movie industry, you are doomed. To see the lonely list of 39, check out one of my favorite new blogs Women and Hollywood by Melissa Silverstein.
We have to start making a change. I’ve included a list of movies, below, that are currently playing in theatres, that are directed by women. Go see at least one of them. I have heard great things about Zero Dark Thirty and The Guilt Trip. Although even Kathryn Bigelow, the ONLY woman to ever win a Best Director Oscar, is being accused of playing second fiddle to her partner, Mark Boal, the screenwriter. She’s also been criticized for being, get this, TOO good looking. I mean how could a smart woman also be attractive? What is happening to our world when intelligent women can also be considered pretty? Jeez! Smart women must be ugly while the sexiest and prettiest among us must have rocks in our brains. Women can’t get it right!
Ava DuVernay, the writer and director of Middle of Nowhere was blatantly ignored at the NAACP Image Awards for her work as a writer and director. Her film won for Best Director at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival and numerous other film festival awards. Check out the trailer here. Shall we place bets whether the white male Academy recognizes her courageous movie in anyway?
Zero Dark Thirty – Directed by Kathryn Bigelow
Middle of Nowhere – Directed and Written by Ava DuVernay
Diana Vreeland: The Eye Has to Travel – Directed by Lisa Immordino
Somewhere Between – Directed by Linda Goldstein Knowlton
The Guilt Trip – Directed by Anne Fletcher
Trashed – Directed by Candida Brady (documentary)
Talaash – Directed by Reema Kagti
The Central Park Five – Co-Directed by Sarah Burns (documentary)
Cloud Atlas – Co-Directed and Co-Written by Lana Wachowski
The Other Son – Directed and Co-Written by Lorraine Lévy
Brooklyn Castle – Directed by Katie Dellamaggiore (documentary)
So do me a favor. Or do womankind a favor and go support women directors. If we don’t do it, who will? Certainly not the Academy!