Gender in the larger Oscar conversation has largely focused on the snubbing of Selma helmer Ava DuVernay for the Best Director category, but it shouldn’t be forgotten that not a single one of the seven other Best Picture contenders this year features a female protagonist.
Critic A.O. Scott recently discussed the film industry’s probably unconscious but perniciously pervasive devaluation of women and girls’ stories. Addressing his colleague Manohla Dargis, he compellingly theorizes why the Oscar nominees this year (and every year) are so overwhelmingly male:
In a series of deeply reported and closely argued articles, you recently examined how the American film industry continues to marginalize creative women and strew obstacles in their paths. Its record on race is not much better. Taken as a whole, the Oscar nominations this year confirm just how monochromatic and male-dominated Hollywood remains. All the acting nominees are white. And every single movie nominated for best picture, best director and best screenplay is, primarily, about a man. This is not to slight any of those movies: I was happy to peer into all those real and fictional male lives. But the year’s films about girls and women are entirely shut out of the main Oscar conversation. “Beyond the Lights” has one nomination, for original song. “Belle” and “The Fault in Our Stars” have nothing.
And look at “Wild,” directed by Jean-Marc Vallée and based on Cheryl Strayed’s best-selling memoir. Reese Witherspoon and Laura Dern, as Ms. Strayed and her mother, were both terrific and deserved their nominations for best actress and best supporting actress. But to acknowledge their work and deny the movie consideration in other major categories is to say that Ms. Strayed’s story is intrinsically less important than those of Riggan in “Birdman,” Mason Jr. in “Boyhood,” Alan Turing in “The Imitation Game” and the rest. This is the kind of judgment that is all the more pernicious for being reflexive rather than the result of conscious bias.
[via NY Times]