Laura Dern picked up her first Academy Award on Sunday night for her supporting performance in Noah Baumbach’s Best Picture nominee “Marriage Story.” She also starred in another Best Picture nominee, “Little Women,” for director Greta Gerwig. After her Oscar win, Dern came backstage and spoke to interview press to address the elephant in the room: Where were all the women directors at the Oscars this year?
While Gerwig did pick up a Best Adapted Screenplay nomination, she — along with such filmmakers as Lulu Wang (“The Farewell”), Marielle Heller (“A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood”), and many other women who did standout work this year — was shut out of the Best Director race. That category wound up with five male nominees.
“If I could give this Oscar to Greta Gerwig I would do it right now,” Dern said. “And Lulu,” she added, referring to the “Farewell” director. “There’s so many beautiful films. I met the director of ‘Honey Boy’ (Alma Har’el yesterday at the Independent Spirits,” another female director whose film, while nominated at the indie awards ceremony on Saturday, was not featured at all throughout the Oscars.
“I think that our lens should focus, perhaps, less on the lack of accolades and more on the less opportunity that there is, and even more so the lack of second chances given to female voices,” Dern said. “As the business and the people with the money give more and more opportunity to extraordinary and diverse voices, and representing who we want to see reflected in films, which is ourselves, we are going to be in a lot different shape.”
Finally, Dern said, “I share this with Noah and Greta, who I spent my year with in art and friendship and now doing press for both films. I would love to see her continually awarded for all her beautiful work.”
Earlier in the evening, Academy Awards presenter Natalie Portman also made a similarly minded statement to Oscar viewers watching the red carpet: Portman wore a custom-made Dior gown embossed with the names of women directors snubbed at the Academy Awards in 2020. Names on the cape included Lorene Scafaria (“Hustlers”), Lulu Wang, Greta Gerwig, Marielle Heller, Melina Matsoukas (“Queen & Slim”), Alma Har’el, Céline Sciamma (“Portrait of a Lady on Fire”), and Mati Diop (“Atlantics”).