The Oscar Noms: It Sucks to Be a Female Filmmaker Part 2

Awards
by Melissa Silverstein
January 24, 2012 12:07 PM
13 Comments
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This is an up and down day as you will see from the posts on the site.  The Academy Award nominations have been released and while there are many great women nominated in a variety of categories, at the top level- best picture and best director - women are missing.

Last year when there were ten guaranteed nominees for best picture, we had two female directed films nominated -- Winter's Bone and The Kids Are All Right.  This year when they threw that out the general consensus was there would not be 10 nominees and that no women directed pics would make it to the list.  Many people predicted 7 to 8 nominees.  But it turns out there were 9 best picture nominees and there are still no female directed films included.

And best director.  Do I need to say more?  Women have not made it into the conversation at all this year.  Depressing.  And we still have yet to see a woman nominated for best cinematography. EVER.

On the glass half full side of the nominations:

There are a couple of women nominated as best director.  Jennifer Yuh Nelson for Kung Fu Panda 2.  Agnieszka Holland for best foreign film for In Darkness; Audrey Marrs for best doc feature and four of the five nominees for best doc short include women.

Annie Mumolo and Kristen Wiig have scored a best screenplay nomination for Bridesmaids which will hopefully continue to convince Hollywood that women are funny, women are commercially viable, and women are fucking talented writers.  Too bad they left out Diablo Cody for her bold script from Young Adult.  I'm also a bit confused how a silent movie like The Artist can be nominated for script.  There are no words people.  Please.  That movie is so overrated.

Rooney Mara seems to have gotten Tilda Swinton's slot for best actress and while I am disappointed for Tilda (and We Need to Talk About Kevin), it's great news to see a character like Lisbeth Salander nominated.  But that category is still between Viola and Meryl and I think the tide has turned in Meryl's favor.

Props to Glenn Close for scoring a best actress nod after 23 years.  And how cool is it that Melissa McCarthy got nominated?  Just goes to show you that a woman shitting in the sink makes Academy folks take note.

Also - Two African American actresses got nominations - Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer for The Help.

And congrats to Rachael Horovitz, Kathleen Kennedy and Letty Aronson for producing the best picture nominees.

List of female nominees

Best Picture
"Midnight in Paris" Letty Aronson and Stephen Tenenbaum, Producers
"Moneyball" Michael De Luca, Rachael Horovitz and Brad Pitt, Producers
"The Tree of Life" Nominees to be determined
"War Horse" Steven Spielberg and Kathleen Kennedy, Producers

Actress in a Leading Role
Glenn Close in "Albert Nobbs"
Viola Davis in "The Help"
Rooney Mara in "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo"
Meryl Streep in "The Iron Lady"
Michelle Williams in "My Week with Marilyn"

Actress in a Supporting Role
Bérénice Bejo in "The Artist"
Jessica Chastain in "The Help"
Melissa McCarthy in "Bridesmaids"
Janet McTeer in "Albert Nobbs"
Octavia Spencer in "The Help"

Animated Feature Film
"Kung Fu Panda 2" Jennifer Yuh Nelson

Art Direction
"Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2" Production Design: Stuart Craig; Set Decoration: Stephenie McMillan
"Hugo" Production Design: Dante Ferretti; Set Decoration: Francesca Lo Schiavo
"Midnight in Paris" Production Design: Anne Seibel; Set Decoration: Hélène Dubreuil

Costume Design
"Anonymous" Lisy Christl
"Hugo" Sandy Powell
"W.E." Arianne Phillips

Documentary (Feature)
"Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory" Charles Ferguson and Audrey Marrs

Documentary (Short Subject)
"The Barber of Birmingham: Foot Soldier of the Civil Rights Movement" Robin Fryday and Gail Dolgin
"God Is the Bigger Elvis" Rebecca Cammisa and Julie Anderson
"Saving Face" Daniel Junge and Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy
"The Tsunami and the Cherry Blossom" Lucy Walker and Kira Carstensen

Film Editing
"The Artist" Anne-Sophie Bion and Michel Hazanavicius
"Hugo" Thelma Schoonmaker

Foreign Language Film
"In Darkness" Poland

Makeup
"Albert Nobbs" Martial Corneville, Lynn Johnston and Matthew W. Mungle
"Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2" Amanda Knight and Lisa Tomblin

Music (Original Song)
"Real in Rio" from "Rio" Music by Sergio Mendes and Carlinhos Brown Lyric by Siedah Garrett

Short Film (Animated)
"A Morning Stroll" Grant Orchard and Sue Goffe
"Wild Life" Amanda Forbis and Wendy Tilby

Short Film (Live Action)
"Time Freak" Andrew Bowler and Gigi Causey

Sound Mixing
"Moneyball" Deb Adair, Ron Bochar, Dave Giammarco and Ed Novick

Visual Effects
"Hugo" Rob Legato, Joss Williams, Ben Grossman and Alex Henning

Writing (Adapted Screenplay)
"Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy" Screenplay by Bridget O'Connor & Peter Straughan

Writing (Original Screenplay)
"Bridesmaids" Written by Annie Mumolo & Kristen Wiig

Full list of nominees

Awards
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13 Comments

  • Bitch Pack | February 26, 2012 12:21 PMReply

    Conspicuously none in "Best Screenplay". Maybe "The Bitch List" can do something about that: http://youtu.be/Xb2HwXPxPkY

  • Bes | January 25, 2012 7:14 PMReply

    Yes Dan, baby steps are not good enough for women in Hollywood. I am sick of glacial changes things need to change yesterday. I am also disgusted that the actress from girl with the dragon tattoo got nominated. That movie is a contrived misogynist piece of crap written, filmed, directed and edited by men and passed off as some sort of empowerfulating woman garbage. For my part you can take the entire male fantasy of women gaining power through violent sexual assault genre (Sucker Punch, Girl with the Dragon Tattoo) and shove it.

  • grrljock | January 25, 2012 1:44 PMReply

    Love your line: "Just goes to show you that a woman shitting in the sink makes Academy folks take note."

    As a lot of other people have noted, the Academy generally rewards old-school sentiments and likes to revel in nostalgia. This is made obvious by the Best Picture nominees this year. So not really surprising that this sclerotic institution didn't recognize women's accomplishments.

  • KitC | January 24, 2012 10:45 PMReply

    I think people are taking Melissa's comment re the script too literally. It's not the absence of dialogue in The Artist per se, but the fact that it is obviously a very light script and we are talking about ranking it as one of the 5 best of the year.

  • Linn | January 24, 2012 7:46 PMReply

    Melissa, fyi, as part of a writing team (two females!), what we struggle with the most and find the hardest in writing films, is the structure. Who are the characters and what happens - what do they do. And what do they do after that. And after that. To us, the easiest part is adding words/dialogue. Like frosting on a cake. But some cakes don't even have frosting. They're good just by themselves... So you see, The Artist should be allowed to be considered for best screenplay. It's just a cake that doesn't need frosting. :)

  • Melissa Silverstein | January 25, 2012 6:30 AM

    I was being a bit tongue and cheek with my comment about the Artist script because the point I was trying to make is that a silent film scripted by a guy (and yes I know that the film had to have a structure for it to work) made it to the final five which I find hard to believe. Do you see Young Adult? That script was groundbreaking. I am not a fan of The Artist. I thought it was very thin. That's just my opinion.

  • Jen | January 24, 2012 7:45 PMReply

    Sorry, IMO The Artist was a terrific script -- as a screenwriter, the challenge is always to show and not tell, and The Artist does this -- yes, literally. And has a terrific "Star Is Born" subplot for the female lead who has her own arc. It's VERY difficult to get a romantic movie made in Hollywood nowadays that doesn't have fart jokes -- so the French went ahead and did it. Love the movie, I suspect and hope it will win best pic.

  • Dan | January 24, 2012 5:41 PMReply

    I understand women are under-represented in Hollywood and I am fully behind seeing more films by women and find the female eye to be an interesting, and sometimes refreshing, perspective behind the lens. So I don't quite understand the gripe with these nominees, considering there seems to be a woman in almost every category from sound mixing, documentary, editing, costume design to even best song. If the Oscars hadn't completely messed up the song category, and "Masterpiece" had been eligible, it also means that particular category would have been filled with Madonna, Mary J. Blige and Glenn Close judging by the Globes nominations. And then, a gay man, in Elton John, would have probably accompanied them.

    So what's the problem? Is it because the entire categories are not ALL women that it's not good enough? I do really enjoy reading this blog but sometimes it almost seems as if, unless women are completely dominating in every category and men cease to exist, then there will be a problem. Are baby steps in the advancement of women in Hollywood so bad? Why can't these small victories be celebrated positively instead of being thought about and served with a side of bitter snide? There's still a long way to go but women are slowly getting there, it's not going to change overnight, even though we would all like it to.

    I don't understand why we're complaining about women not being nominated for directing, I just found the irony of complaining about no female-directed Best Picture or Best Director and then congratulating the three producers of three different Best Picture nominees who are women. And female directors seemingly have been nominated, particularly in documentary film, just not in the big five 'Best Director' category which is a hard category to get into regardless, as Fincher and Speilberg and countless others both missed out on this year.

    And yes, Tilda should be there over Rooney Mara!

  • Anita | January 24, 2012 8:31 PM

    Dan, I don't think the blog is in any way advocating that women should dominate, I think it's more about women getting equal recognition for being as good as their male counterparts and valuing what women contribute to the industry. It's about creating visibility of women in media so that the next generation see that it is possible without having to struggle more than their male counterparts so that more women choose these careers. In a word - gender equality. I remember reading a statistic that said that half of media, film and TV schools are women. And yet our representation in the actual industry is approx 13%. Somewhere women are not being given equal opportunity to shine.

  • Laura | January 24, 2012 4:57 PMReply

    Maybe (and I say this with bitterness) they should divide every category into male and female nominees : Best Female Director, etc. Sure, the female categories would have less prestige. But it would create a helluva lot more opportunities and recognition for women.

  • Sarah | January 24, 2012 1:32 PMReply

    Bret McKenzie is a guy.

  • Melody | January 24, 2012 1:27 PMReply

    While I too am disappointed at the lack of female nominees, the fact that "The Artist" did not have a single word of dialogue is exactly why it deserves a best screenplay nomination.

  • Thomasi | January 24, 2012 12:34 PMReply

    Sadly, as much as I agree with the general thrust of this article (i.e., women's voices and perspectives ought to be better represented in our movies, and by extension, our movie awards), this one comment -- "I'm also a bit confused how a silent movie like The Artist can be nominated for script. There are no words people. Please." -- is so thunderously ignorant that it tempts me to dismiss the article as a whole. It betrays such a deep misunderstanding not only of what makes great screenwriting, but in fact what screenwriting fundamentally is, that a reasonable person can only wonder how the author came to be writing articles about film for Indiewire. Does Silverstein believe that in the silent era no great screenwriting was done? Has she even seen City Lights, or Sunrise, or The General?

    I'm not even going to argue that The Artist is a great script, although it's quite a good one. What makes a screenplay great, or good, or bad, though, has only a tiny bit to do with the words the characters speak. This is film writing 101.

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