2020 Oscar Nominations Snub All Female Directors, Issa Rae Responds: 'Congratulations to Those Men'

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Greta Gerwig, Quentin Tarantino
Photo by Michael Kovac/Getty Images

"Congratulations to those men."

Issa Rae said what we were all thinking after announcing the 2020 Oscars' all-male Best Director nominees, which follows a disappointing trend previously seen at this year's Golden Globes, Directors Guild Awards and BAFTAs -- a complete failure to recognize any women for top directing honors.

This year's Oscars nominations, yet again, saw several women whose films were nominated in other categories overlooked in favor of their male counterparts.

Marielle Heller, who topped snub lists last year for her acclaimed Melissa McCarthy starrer Can You Ever Forgive Me?, was overlooked once again for her acclaimed Mister Rogers film, A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, managing a single nomination for Tom Hanks in Best Supporting Actor. Lorene Scafaria's Hustlers, meanwhile, earned rave reviews and the highest-ever box office debut for a film starring a woman of color, but both she and The Farewell's writer-director, Lulu Wang, saw their films completely shut out.

Even Greta Gerwig, the Oscars' most recent female Best Director nominee, couldn't crack the category. Her adaptation of Little Women is up for Best Picture -- the only Best Picture nominee from a female filmmaker -- and also earned nominations for Best Actress for Saoirse Ronan, Best Supporting Actress for Florence Pugh, Costume Design, Original score and Best Adapted Screenplay for Gerwig -- but still, she was blanked for directing.

Had Gerwig gotten the nomination, she would be the first two-time female Best Director nominee.

Still, the director issued a heartfelt statement about the nominations Little Women did get. "I am brimming with happiness -- thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you (that’s six!) to the Academy," she wrote. "This film of Little Women has been over thirty years in the making, from the very first time Louisa May Alcott and Jo March reached across time and space and made me believe I could be a writer and creator."

The statement continues:

"Every single person who worked on this film poured their heart and soul into it, and we are all so grateful to the Academy for recognizing the collective effort. I am so personally proud of each person who worked on the film, and I am bursting with joy for all of them. I have to say a few names loudly, because I am just so deeply thrilled for them — my filmmaking partner/wizard/genius Saoirse Ronan, you are my inspiration and my honesty and my co-captain, always, my baby girl superstar Florence Pugh, the Marmee of our dreams Laura Dern (woot! Marriage Story!), our gorgeously talented and ridiculously intelligent Emma Watson, the bright shining soul and life force Eliza Scanlen, our Queen Meryl, the quiet strength and world-class craft of Jayne Houdyshell, and the fifth March sister and all around prince Timothee Chalamet. The men who, as Louisa says, possess 'chivalry worth having,' Chris Cooper, Tracy Letts, James Norton, Bob Odenkirk, and Louis Garrel. The costumes of Jacqueline Durran, the sets of Jess Gonchor, and the music of Alexandre Desplat — they gave me such incredible gifts and each frame of the movie is filled with their skill and work and care."

"Amy Pascal, I have no words big enough but you know what is in my heart. Everyone at Sony and Columbia Pictures especially to Tom Rothman, my favorite sparring partner and tireless champion. Writing and directing this film was an honor and sharing it with audiences has been the most sincerely heart-warming journey. I hope our Little Women does for another generation of girls and women what it did for me: lights a fire to write your book, make your movie, sing your verse. From all of us Little Women and Men, thank you to the Academy."


Other female directors behind acclaimed films eligible in the category this year include Chinonye Chukwu for Clemency, Mati Diop for Atlantics, Alma Har'el for Honey Boy, Melina Matsoukas for Queen & Slim, Céline Sciamma for Portrait of a Lady on Fire and Olivia Wilde for Booksmart, among many, many more.

And it's nothing new for female filmmakers. Across Oscars history, there have only been five female Best Director nominees -- Lina Wertmüller for Seven Beauties in 1976, Jane Campion for The Piano in 1993, Sofia Coppola for Lost in Translation in 2003, Kathryn Bigelow for The Hurt Locker in 2009 and Gerwig for Lady Bird in 2017 -- with Bigelow the only woman to actually win. (The statistics are nearly the same at the Golden Globes: four nominees and just one winner, Yentl helmer Barbra Streisand in 1983.)

When ET spoke with Gerwig at the Palm Springs International Film Festival, she was taking a "glass half full approach" to female accomplishments in cinema in recent years -- despite the continued dearth of nominations.

"What I am heartened by is how many beautiful films were directed by women and what impact it's making on the industry," she saud. "They just came out with another Annenberg study that said there are more films this year directed by women than any other year, and it's looking to improve again for 2020 and 2021."

This year's "all-male nominees" for Best Director (thank you, Natalie Portman) do include a few first-timers alongside stalwarts like Sam Mendes, Martin Scorsese and Quentin Tarantino: After winning the Palm d'Or at Cannes and Best Foreign Language Film at the Globes, Bong Joon-ho scored his first Oscar nomination for Parasite, while Todd Phillips made it into Best Director for Joker.

The 92nd Annual Academy Awards air live on Sunday, Feb. 9, 2020, at 5 p.m. PT/8 p.m. ET on ABC.

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