OSCARS: Is There Room for Any Women in Best Director?


The female perspective has struggled in Hollywood for decades.  Constantly being passed over for the generic “white guy” fish eye lens, the equal gender has not had its fair share of representation behind the camera, and that isn’t just saying the directing chair.

Last year, we saw our first African-American woman nominated for Film Editing (Joi McMillon from “Moonlight”), and we have yet to see the barrier broken in Cinematography for a woman of any color.

This year, the hopes and dreams of diversity are resting on the shoulders of a few, and I mean, very few.

From the first half of the year, Warner Bros. will be mounting a serious campaign for “Wonder Woman” and its director Patti Jenkins.  Jenkins, who directed Charlize Theron to her first Oscar for 2003’s “Monster,” has just signed on to “Wonder Woman 2” and will be quite the force on the circuit.  Whether the Academy will take the film and the genre seriously is another question but it’s surely worth noting that it will likely receive plenty of critical mentions along the way.

The most likely to pop into the fray is one-half of the directorial team behind “Battle of the Sexes.” Valerie Faris and her husband Jonathan Dayton.  Faris, who co-directed the Best Picture nominee “Little Miss Sunshine,” hasn’t been the most consistent working presence since 2006.  The only film in between was the indie “Ruby Sparks,” and with Fox Searchlight haven’t to make some strategic choices between this, Guillermo del Toro’s “The Shape of Water,” and Martin McDonagh’s “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri,” will she and her counterpart receive the proper focus?

The other candidate in the wings is Dee Rees, who helms the Sundance hit “Mudbound.”  The indie director of “Pariah” has already received buzz for her work and with films like “12 Years a Slave” and “Moonlight” scoring Oscar gold of the years, the film’s strong ensemble could be just what it needs to bring it over the hump.  The question is will Netflix be able to finally break through in a major way with the Academy?  Despite scoring Oscars for documentaries like “20 Feet from Stardom,” the streaming service hasn’t found love for films like “Beasts of No Nation,” despite strong critical praise.

Going down the line in the Director predictions, we can feasibly see a name like Kathryn Bigelow pop up during the precursors for “Detroit,” though the film’s divisive last-third will likely keep her out of the hunt.

The Cannes Film Festival kicked things off well for Sofia Coppola with her film “The Beguiled.”  Initially thought to make a “Foxcatcher-like” run through the season (perhaps start off weak and pick up steam in the end), Focus Features will lay all their hopes and dreams in “Darkest Hour” from Joe Wright and “Victoria and Abdul” from Stephen Frears.  It’ll be up to the critics to keep the remake in the conversation.

The last two names worth mentioning are Angelina Jolie (director of “First They Killed My Father”) and Lynne Ramsay (director of “You Were Never Really Here”).

The former Oscar-winning actress of “Girl, Interrupted” received the best directorial reviews of her career yet at the Telluride and Toronto Film Festivals.  Set to open on Sept. 15 in theaters and streaming service Netflix, the film and her will have the same hump as “Mudbound” in staying in the conversation.

When it comes to Ramsay, her film is already said to be unconventional.  It’s hopes and dreams will seem to lie on the shoulders of three-time nominee Joaquin Phoenix, who won Best Actor at Cannes.

For the rest of the indie women directors bringing their A-game, we can only hope there’s a surprise or two waiting in the wings, and the critics latch on with all their might.  In the recent predictions, you can see two women predicted in the lineup.  How much longer will that hold up, that’s another question.

Share your thoughts in the comments below!



  • Ferdinand

    Gerwig is another one and quite possibly the most likely of the female directors in the race to be nominated if the reactions stay as strong as they are at the moment.

    I’d also like to ask you about Battle of the Sexes: since you’ve seen it, can you estimate whether it’s possible that it’s another Hidden Figures, a crowdpleaser that misses all the craft nominations and director even though it recieves several other above the line nominations?

  • Coppola’s film seems to have fallen by the wayside; Bigelow’s was a box-office bust and frankly nowhere near as critically acclaimed as THL or ZD30.

    Gerwig and Rees seem to be the only ones who stand a chance. Gerwig more, because her film is not distributed by Netflix.