The Golden Globes Don't Care About Women
Female filmmakers don’t exist. At least that’s what the Golden Globes would have you believe.
When the nominations for the 2020 ceremony were announced this morning, celebrating the best film and television of 2019, it was a sausage fest. In and of itself that’s not super unusual for the Golden Globes, which has always been like the creepy uncle at Christmas to the Academy Awards stable parent at a family reunion. This is the awards ceremony that nominated The Tourist for three trophies, after all. You know, the film that relied entirely on Angelina Jolie’s eyeliner to give audiences the chemistry she and Johnny Depp were so clearly lacking.
Following vocal criticism from Hollywood heavyweights like Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith and campaigns like #OscarsSoWhite, the Academy Awards listened. In recent years, they have made a concentrated effort to make their voting body more inclusive and representative of the world. In summary, so it’s not just a pool of old, white guys deciding whether or not films like Get Out or Moonlight have merit.
The Golden Globes, on the flip side, have taken a firmly ‘yeah nah’ approach. It’s one that’s reflected in their list of 2019 nominations. In a calendar year where the best movies were directed by women, not a single movie directed by a woman was nominated for Best Motion Picture -- Drama or Best Motion Picture -- Musical or Comedy. Not a single woman was even nominated for Best Director. The past 12 months have featured a bevvy of films that were critically acclaimed and -- in many cases -- commercially successful, where women were sitting in the director’s chair.
There’s Greta Gerwig’s Little Women. Melina Matsoukas’s Queen & Slim. Olivia Wilde’s Booksmart. Aussie Jennifer Kent’s The Nightingale. Alma Har'el’s Honey Boy. Or -- arguably the movie with the most momentum heading into awards season -- Lorene Scafaria’s Hustlers. The director of The Hangover Part III earned a Golden Globe nomination for Best Motion Picture over any of these women. Think about that for a minute. Then think about it some more.
Awards season is generally categorised as the period of time from November to March -- although it’s starting earlier and earlier every year – where films, filmmakers, studios, and stars begin campaigning to receive awards recognition from their peers. Often that begins with more industry-specific (but no less important) ceremonies like the Critics' Choice and Gotham Awards, before Directors, Writers and Producers Guild award ceremonies.
It’s all leading up to the grand finale, of course: the Academy Awards. Everyone in the business wants to be clasping that shiny, gold gong and thanking their parents, their partner, their God, in front of Hollywood’s elite. Arguably the second highest profile awards ceremony is the Golden Globes, not just because of the sheer amount of eyeballs that tune in to watch it -- it's shown in 167 countries -- but because of the timing, just a few weeks out from the Oscars.
Given the existence of kooky categories like Best Motion Picture -- Comedy or Musical, the Globes are usually always relied upon for wild choices (like The Martian being nominated -- and winning -- in this exact field in 2016, for example). The Globes are now also relied upon for their seeming disdain at moving with the times. That is to say: acknowledging filmmakers with last names other than Scorsese and Tarantino.
So much so, this has led to A-Listers like Natalie Portman dragging them publicly during the awards ceremony itself. During the 2018 broadcast, Portman presented the Best Director category with Ron Howard by stating: “And here are the all-male nominees.”
Even Little Women star Saoirse Ronan -- who received her fourth Golden Globe nomination today -- spent the bulk of her public statement gently dunking on the awards body by reminding them that, well, Greta Gerwig exists. “I am eternally grateful to Greta Gerwig for her guidance and partnership, and for her fierce perseverance that brought this incredible cast together and created an environment for us to become a real family and tell this very special story,” she said. “My performance in this film belongs to Greta as much as it does myself and I share this recognition completely with her.”
It’s difficult to eat when you’re not even invited to the table.
At this point, the Golden Globes are getting about as embarrassing as Australia’s AACTA Awards, which last week introduced one of Marvel’s biggest up and coming stars Simu Liu as a “Hong Kong cinema veteran” even though he has never set foot there.
Those cautious to acknowledge a gender bias in previous years would often point to the fact there just weren’t enough excellent films from female filmmakers to warrant multiple nominations from the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA), the voting body of around 90 people who decide what does and doesn’t deserve recognition.
In 2019, that is not the case. The market was swamped with options this year from queer women, black women, white women, all kinds of women. Even in the television categories, Ava DuVernay’s When They See Us -- named by The Washington Post as one of their “best shows of 2019” -- couldn’t get in the ring to have the opportunity to do battle.
Equality is crucially important in industries like Hollywood where visions of gender and race and sexuality and class have the power to reach millions, even billions, through the mediums of film and television. If women can’t get nominated -- not win, just nominated -- in a year when the best films were made by women, then when can they?