Monday, March 8, 2010

Oscar's Dirty Little Secret

Until last night, watching The Academy Awards, I had no idea that no woman had ever won an Oscar for Best Director. What in the world????

I'm a movie lover, and though I'm not always knowledgeable about what goes on behind the camera, I know a little about the industry. Even I can name a range of female directors who might, at some point in their careers, have been eligible for such an honor: Penny Marshall, Jane Campion, Nancy Meyers, Kathie Bates, Nora Ephron, Sofia Coppola, Mira Nair....the list goes on.

Yet, I learned from the NYTimes last night that in Oscar's 82-year history, only four women have ever even been nominated in the director category: Lina Wertmuller (1975-Seven Beauties), Jane Campion (1993-The Piano), Sofia Coppola (2003-Lost In Translation) and Kathryn Bigelow, who shattered yet another glass ceiling by taking home the award last night for The Hurt Locker.

To be honest, I'm slightly appalled by this. I'm glad Kathryn Bigelow won, of course, but why did she have to be the first? And going beyond gender, why did Lee Daniels (Precious) have to be the first African-American director EVER NOMINATED??? Why, in our supposedly post-race, post-gender America do we still have to overcome so many large and small obstacles?

It makes me wonder....if diversity and equality aren't reflected and respected within our pop culture, organically, then have we really embraced these values as fully as we claim?


Unknown said...

Actually, Lee Daniels is the second African-American to be nominated for Best Director. The first was John Singleton, for 1991's "Boyz n the Hood."

It's still a shameful record. Although when Barbra Streisand walked out to present the award, my first thought was, "That's it--Kathryn's got it in the bag."

sally said...

It turns out that Geoffrey Fletcher also made a first - he's the first African American to win for screenplay. I, myself, was surprised because even though I knew no woman had won, it wasn't until that night that I learned no African American had ever won.

But I'm really happy for Kathryn Bigelow. I watched The Hurt Locker and it blew me away (oh, oops, no pun intended). It was one of the best movies I've seen in a long time.

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