The nominations for the 91st Oscars were announced on Tuesday (22.01.19). The nominations saw Marvel superhero Black Panther make history after the high grossing film became the first ever superhero film to be nominated for Best Picture.
Black Panther aside, there was a strong showing for films with women in lead roles. Both of this year’s most-nominated films “Roma” and “The Favorite” have female leads. However, it was a different story in the best director category, where all the nominees were men.
According to a report by the BBC, the lack of women nominated for best director is “immensely disappointing”. “It just shows how much work we still have to do, and it’s heartbreaking really that some extraordinary work has been overlooked yet again by the Academy,” said Liz Tucker, chair of Women in Film and Television UK.
Here is a list of five female directors who could have made the Oscars shortlist according to the BBC.
Debra Granik (Leave No Trace)
Debra Granik is a 55-year-old American filmmaker. She is most known for 2004’s “Down to the Bone”, which starred Vera Farmiga, 2010’s “Winter’s Bone”, which starred Jennifer Lawrence in her breakout performance and for which Granik was nominated for Academy Award for Best Picture and Best Adapted Screenplay, and 2018’s “Leave No Trace”, a film based on the book My Abandonment by Peter Rock.
Lynne Ramsay (You Were Never Really Here)
Lynne Ramsay is a 49-year-old Scottish film director, writer, producer, and cinematographer best known for the feature films “Ratcatcher” (1999), “Morvern Callar” (2002), “We Need to Talk About Kevin” (2011), and You Were Never Really Here (2017). Her films are marked by a fascination with children and young people and the recurring themes of grief, guilt, death, and its aftermath. They are low on dialogue and explicit story exposition, and instead use images, vivid details, music, and sound design to create their worlds.
In April 2013 she was selected as a member of the main competition jury at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival In 2015, she was named as a member of the jury for the main competition at the 2015 Venice Film Festival.
Chloe Zhao (The Rider)
Chloé Zhao or Zhao Ting, 36, is a Chinese film director, screenwriter, and producer. Her debut feature film, Songs My Brothers Taught Me (2015), premiered at Sundance Film Festival. Her second feature film, The Rider (2017), was critically acclaimed and received several accolades including nominations for Independent Spirit Award for Best Film and Best Director.
Josie Rourke (Mary Queen of Scots)
Josie Rourke aged 42, is a British theatre and film director. Since 2012, Rourke has been the artistic director of the Donmar Warehouse Theatre in London. In early December 2016, it was announced that Rourke would make her film debut with Working Title’s Mary Queen of Scots.
Marielle Heller (Can You Ever Forgive Me?)
Marielle Stiles Heller, 39, is also an American writer, director, and actor. She is the writer and director of the feature film “The Diary of a Teenage Girl” and the director of “Can You Ever Forgive Me?”
In the 91-year history of the Academy Awards, only five women have ever been nominated for best director.
The BBC report goes on to say, after this year’s nominations, some argued that female directors should be recognized but only on merit, rather than for the sake of balance. Just four of the top 100 films at the US box office last year had female directors – “A Wrinkle In Time”(Ava DuVernay), “The Spy Who Dumped Me” (Susanna Fogel), “I Feel Pretty” (Abby Kohn) and “Blockers” (Kay Cannon). That’s fewer than in 2017 when women directed 8% of the top 100 films.