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Women and the Oscars 2014

Women and the Oscars 2014

It’s Oscar week and on the surface this year feels different. Ellen DeGeneres will host the ceremony, and while I’m sure she will be biting, I doubt that I’m going to feel the need to take a shower after the show is over. The leaders of the Academy, two women — Dawn Hudson and Cheryl Boone Isaacs — are making the rounds to the media highlighting their drive for diversity and of course the Academy museum they are building. And, now that the Olympics are over, the world will start to focus on the gowns and the shoes that will be worn this Sunday night by some of the nominees and presenters including Angelina Jolie, Viola Davis, Kim Novak, Sally Field and Kerry Washington.

Here are some things I am thinking about – if either one of Megan Ellison’s movies wins best picture will we hear her speak? Will Frozen win best animated film and will “Let It Go” finally get best song? I’m also thinking about whether Gravity will beat out 12 Years a Slave for best picture making it the first film in a decade since 2004’s Million Dollar Baby to have a female in the lead of the film.

While there is some good news, this is the Oscars, and there is also a lot of bad news for women. Some things to consider: 

  • No women is nominated for best cinematography, and in fact a woman had never been nominated in this category. 
  • No women are nominated in the editing category.
  • No women directed films are nominated in the best foreign film category
  • No woman is nominated for best original score. 

There is one woman — Julie Delpy (Before Midnight) and Melisa Wallack (Dallas Buyers Club) in each of the writing categories, yet neither of them are nominated on their own.

Now to the directors. 

The Square — directed by Jehane Noujaim — is the lone female directed documentary. One woman  — Sara Ishaq is nominated for best documentary short subject, Karama Has No Walls; Jennifer Lee is nominated for Frozen; Lauren MacMullan is nominated for best animated short film, Get a Horse!; and Selma Vilhunen and Kirsikka Saari and nominated for best live action short film – Pitaako Mun Kaikki Hoitaa? (Do I Have to Take Care of Everything?)

Not to diminish the work of the women above, this year, again, there is no woman nominated for best director.  Part of the problem is that there are certain kinds of movies, and certain kinds of men who make “oscar” movies and it’s still incredibly hard for women to break into this area. Women get close but have a hard time breaking through. Even the movies about women that are nominated have male directors. And it’s important to note that this year no women directed movies are even nominated for best picture. Last year Zero Dark Thirty was nominated. 

But even though there are no women directors nominated that doesn’t mean that there are no women directing. Far from it. At Women and Hollywood we want people to use this week to interrupt the conversations about the Oscars and remind people that no women were nominated for best director this year and that we need to see more women directed films. 

Here is a video to share that includes some of the films directed by women released in 2013. We are not saying that these films should have been nominated, what we are saying is that women are making diverse and wonderful films and that our Oscar conversation would be much richer and much more interesting if it included women as well as men, and we look forward to a time when we don’t have to have this conversation.

Happy Oscar week.

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