It took over eight decades for a female director to be acknowledged by the Academy. Yet, despite two years of back-to-back wins (Jane Campion for The Power of the Dog in 2022 and Chloé Zhao for Nomadland in 2021), female directors have once again been left out of the script at this year’s 95th Oscars.
In a year dominated by female voices, from Don’t Worry Darling to She Said and Women Talking, a lack of recognition for the women behind the lens feels like a huge regression.
“Once again, Academy voters have shown that they don’t value women’s voices, shutting us out of the Best Director nominations,” said the LA-based advocacy group, Women In Film. “An Academy Award is more than a gold statue, it’s a career accelerator that can lead to continued work and increased compensation.”
The talented contenders omitted from this year’s list included Sarah Polley for Women Talking, Gina Prince-Bythewood for The Woman King, Maria Schrader for She Said, Charlotte Wells Aftersun and Domee Shi of the animated Pixar film Turning Red.
Filling the esteemed nomination slots were instead the names of an all male line-up: Martin McDonagh for The Banshees of Inisherin, Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert for Everything Everywhere All at Once, Steven Spielberg for The Fabelmans, Todd Field for Tár and Ruben Östlund for Triangle of Sadness.
The absence of female Best Director nominees at this year’s Oscars is a disappointing snub, but perhaps not a surprising dismissal given the Academy’s notorious history of ignoring female voices. Across 95 ceremonies, women have been nominated for the Best Director Oscar only seven times.
To understand the glaring gender gap, you need only look as far as the nomination process. Currently, the Academy is allowed to select more than five best picture nominees, while the best director nominees remain restricted to five. However, the issue of overlooking women in this category likely stems from the appalling lack of diversity on the board. Of the 10,509 members, 66.5 percent are male and 75.6 percent of the director’s branch are men.
As the Academy marks its entry into a new era, it has forgone the heritage red carpet, instead unveiling a champagne hue in honour of its 95th year. It turns out, the rollout of a new carpet was not a shakeup from tradition, but merely another rug for female talent to be swept under.