Since 1944, the Golden Globes have given the best director award to only one woman: Barbra Streisand.
“That was 1984. That was 34 years ago,” Streisand said in January while onstage at the 75th ceremony. “Folks, time’s up! We need more women directors, and more women to be nominated for best director. There are so many films out there that are so good, directed by women.”
Few women have earned nods since Streisand’s “Yentl” win: Jane Campion in 1994 (“The Piano”), Sofia Coppola in 2004 (“Lost in Translation”), Kathryn Bigelow in 2010 and 2013 (“The Hurt Locker” and “Zero Dark Thirty”) and Ava DuVernay in 2015 (“Selma”) — and this year’s nominations follow suit. First-timer Bradley Cooper (“A Star Is Born”) and surprise nominee Peter Farrelly (“Green Book”) joined Alfonso Cuarón (“Roma”), Spike Lee (“BlacKkKlansman”) and Adam McKay (“Vice”) in making the cut.
This is the fourth year in a row that men have filled all five slots, which Natalie Portman drew attention to at this year’s ceremony while introducing the “all-male nominees.” It’s an industry-wide issue — just 4.3 percent of those who directed top-grossing films released between 2007 and 2017 were women, according to a report published this year by the University of Southern California’s Annenberg Inclusion Initiative.
“This is all about how we support content created by women from the beginning to the award season — and we still haven’t gotten there,” said Melissa Silverstein, founder of the Women and Hollywood initiative. “What has happened over the last year and a couple months, though, is that people can no longer hide from this. You’re going to get called out at every turn.”
And it’s no longer just women who are the loudest, she continued. It’s also men in the industry, critics of all genders and even distributors. Women were behind some of 2018′s top films, and yet the directors (e.g. Marielle Heller of “Can You Ever Forgive Me?") have often been forgotten while their films' stars (e.g. best dramatic actress and best supporting actor nominees Melissa McCarthy and Richard E. Grant) are recognized.
In addition to Heller, other women whose 2018 films have been well received include:
- Debra Granik of “Leave No Trace,” which appears multiple times on the upcoming Film Independent Spirit Awards' list of nominees.
- Karyn Kusama of “Destroyer,” for which star Nicole Kidman landed a Golden Globe nod.
- Lynne Ramsay of “You Were Never Really Here,” whose screenplay won at the Cannes Film Festival alongside star Joaquin Phoenix.
- Josie Rourke of “Mary Queen of Scots,” which has yet to hit theaters.
- Chloé Zhao of “The Rider,” which won best feature at the Gotham Awards.
- Desiree Akhavan of “The Miseducation of Cameron Post,” which won the grand jury prize at Sundance.
- Tamara Jenkins of “Private Life,” which earned three Spirit Award nominations.
At the Toronto International Film Festival in September, Kusama told Variety that in the year that has passed since the #MeToo and Time’s Up movements picked up, things have both changed and stayed the same.
“I think we’re in a kind of primal, title fight to have our voices be heard and to feel the relevance that we know in our personal and professional and creative lives is very real,” she said. “But I think there’s still a lot of work for us all to do.”
Silverstein remains hopeful that a visible shift will occur as the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, which organizes the Golden Globes — along with the film academy, which has nominated five female directors for an Oscar since 1927 and only awarded one of them, Bigelow, in 2009 — diversifies in gender and race. But until then, she concluded that the best immediate response to this continuing trend of all-male nominees would be . . . a string of expletives.
“But that doesn’t go well in the newspaper,” she said.