- The 2019 Oscar nominees were announced Tuesday morning.
- While the list included some welcome and diverse surprises, women were noticeably absent from the best director category.
- Here are seven women who directed exceptional films and deserved recognition from the Academy this year.
The 2019 Oscar nominees were announced Tuesday morning. And while the list included some welcome and diverse surprises – like the runaway success of Netflix’s “Roma” and the best picture nod for Marvel’s “Black Panther” – women were noticeably absent from the best director category.
The best director nominees include Alfonso Cuarón for “Roma,” Yorgos Lanthimos for “The Favourite,” Spike Lee for “BlacKkKlansman,” Adam McKay for “Vice,” and Pawel Pawlikowski for “Cold War.” (You can see the full list of nominees here.)
As many critics have noted, this all-male oversight is particularly frustrating coming off the male-dominated category last year, which included Greta Gerwig’s lonely (and much deserved) nomination for “Lady Bird.” Gerwig was just the fifth female director in history to secure a nod, which fuelled an ongoing discussion of the industry’s gender dynamics and inequality.
Here are seven women who directed exceptional films and deserved recognition from the Academy this year.
Marielle Heller — “Can You Ever Forgive Me?”
“Can You Ever Forgive Me?” is Marielle Heller’s second directorial effort and, as Slate’s Dana Stevens wrote, one of the most believable portraits of “a difficult, brilliant, extravagantly imperfect woman” in recent memory.
As Vanity Fair noted, the Academy overlooking Heller is particularly frustrating; despite directing both Melissa McCarthy and Richard E. Grant to acting nominations (for best actress and best supporting actor, respectively), she was locked out of the best director category. The film’s screenwriters Nicole Holofcener and Jeff Whitty were also nominated.
Josie Rourke — “Mary Queen of Scots”
As INSIDER’s own Carrie Wittmer noted in her review, “Mary Queen of Scots” was one of the best movies of the year – and a particularly delightful triumph for Josie Rourke, especially considering it was her directorial debut.
Jennifer Fox — “The Tale”
Jennifer Fox spent her career making documentaries until “The Tale,” which saw her master narrative storytelling and deliver a poignant, emotional exploration her own sexual abuse.
Karyn Kusama — “Destroyer”
As Manohla Dargis wrote for the New York Times, Karyn Kusama navigated the “snaky, propulsive story” ofa self-destructive LAPD detective with impressive confidence and dexterity.
“Kusama is still figuring out how to balance form and pulp, but she has a singular unapologetic idea about what women can and cannot do onscreen, one she lets rip with verve and her superbly unbound star,” Dargis concluded.
Debra Granik — “Leave No Trace”
Debra Granik is best known for “Winter’s Bone,” which became a star-making vehicle for Oscars darling Jennifer Lawrence. Eight years later, “Leave No Trace” became one of just nine films that received a perfect score on Rotten Tomatoes this year. It also landed on the list of Barack Obama’s favourite movies of 2018.
“It may be Hollywood’s fault that it took Granik this long to make another narrative feature, or she may have been looking for the right story to tell, but either way, this is a film that confirms her as an essential creative force,” David Sims wrote for The Atlantic.
Lynne Ramsay — “You Were Never Really Here”
With Lynne Ramsay’s third feature film, The Guardian’s Mark Kermode writes, “Ramsay offers a riposte to anyone who ever doubted her talent or her working methods.”
“‘You Were Never Really Here’ is a head-spinningly accomplished work that reconfirms Ramsay as one of the most thrillingly distinctive and daring film-makers of her generation,” Kermode concluded.
Chloe Zhao — “The Rider”
Chloe Zhao’s naturalistic masterpiece “The Rider” was heavily praised at Cannes, scored a nod for best film at the Independent Spirit Awards, and named the best film of 2018 by the National Society of Film Critics.
“One of the year’s most celebrated breakouts presents an unorthodox collision of worlds – a Chinese immigrant sets her gaze on the nation’s oldest genre, and finds renewed intimacy in its depths,” Eric Kohn wrote for IndieWire.
“To that end, Zhao has become the ultimate cause celebre of the film community, and ‘The Rider’ provides an antidote to Trumpian ignorance even if its existence predated the concept.”
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.