Awards Season: Why So Few Nominations For Women?

Kathryn Bigelow

It’s film awards season and there have been snubs, outrages and some downright lucky nominees. What I, and so many others, are wondering is: where are all the amazing and talented females in these nominations?

Every year it feels like progress is made on this front within the film industry. Having said this, the stats are still very low on female crew members, female directors and female writers. There is still a huge gender divide in this industry and it is a divide with a 5:1 ratio. This ratio is spread across the fields of: direction, writing, producing, editors, visual effects, scores and soundtracks, but most of all it is found in cinematography. There are roughly 2% of female cinematographers, compared to 98% male. This lack of female presence filters into the nominations. This should not be so. Although there is a smaller percentage of females to choose for such nominations, it does not mean that they should be completely overlooked. But, this is the case this year. Does this go back to the fact that most of the judges for these film/TV nominations are white males?  Or does this dearth of female nominations mean that all female performances were inferior to the male performances.

I remember the absolute joy I felt when Kathryn Bigelow won the Oscar for the Best Director in 2010. For a while I actually believed things might be different, especially considering the fact, Bigelow was only the fourth female nominated for Best Director in the entire history of the Oscars. But, I feel that we have been misled and nothing since that year, suggests progress.

 

The Oscars

Ava DuVernay, director of Selma
Ava DuVernay, director of Selma

The stats here are quite simple with regards to the female presence in the film industry. There are no nominations for a female in the Best Director category with the biggest snub from the 87th Academy Awards nominations has to be Ava DuVernay for Selma. There are no female writers in the lists and surprise, surprise, no hint of a female cinematographer. Long gone are the days of Bigelow!

 

The Golden Globes

Gillian Flynn
Gillian Flynn

Unfortunately, the story here is only marginally better. Ava DuVernay (director of Selma) and Gillian Flynn (writer of Gone Girl) were both nominated but as we know, neither of them claimed the title of Best Director or Best Screenplay. The picture here is similar, to the Oscars as none of the films up for Best Picture had a female lead role.

 

BAFTAs

Elaine Constantine
Elaine Constantine

There are few surprises to be found in the BAFTA nominations either. Once again, there is not a single female in the Best Director category, however, Elaine Constantine has been nominated for Northern Soul in the Outstanding Debut By A British Writer, Director or Producer (progress people!).

Gillian Flynn is hidden in a list full of men in Best Adapted Screenplay and there are no female cinematographers, sound editors or editors. Although, Mica Levi has been nominated for Best Original Music for the Scarlett Johansson film Under The Skin.

What the BAFTA does bring to the table is the three female to two male ratio in their award: EE Rising Star. With Gugu Mbatha-Raw (Belle) nominated, alongside Shailene Woodley (Divergent, The Fault in Our Stars) and Margot Robbie (The Wolf of Wall Street), and with the two males, Miles Teller (Divergent, Whiplash) and Jack O’Connell (’71, Unbroken). This particular award is voted for by the general public so we will see what arises from society, not from a small selection of judges on this one.

So here’s to hoping that we will see some great nominees win in the upcoming BAFTA’s and Oscars. May 2016 may bring us different news for females in film. Remember to cherish the moment of Bigelow’s Directing win and know that it was the start of something, albeit not as exploding as we thought, but a start nonetheless.

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