Well, that didn’t take long. It’s barely been 24 hours since Natalie Portman threw serious shade at the Hollywood Foreign Press Association for its “all-male” selection of Golden Globe Best Director nominees. Now, the BAFTAs (translation: British Oscars) have done the same thing, nominating both the expected (Guillermo del Toro, Christopher Nolan, Martin McDonagh) and slightly unexpected (Luca Guadagnino for Call Me By Your Name, Denis Villeneuve for Blade Runner: 2049) and absolutely no women. So, as I did yesterday for the Golden Globes, DGA, and Oscars, let’s look at the history to see when or if the BAFTAs, which have been around since 1968, have ever nominated a woman for Best Director:
- Jane Campion (The Piano)
- Sofia Coppola (Lost in Translation)
- Valerie Faris (Little Miss Sunshine; along with co-director Jonathan Dayton)
- Lone Scherfig (An Education)
- Lynne Ramsay (We Need to Talk About Kevin)
- Kathryn Bigelow (The Hurt Locker; Zero Dark Thirty)
Three notes here: First, Bigelow is the only one in the bunch to have actually won, for Hurt Locker; Second, neither Scherfig nor Ramsay were nominated by the HFPA, DGA, or Academy. So, the BAFTAs get at least some brownie points there; Lastly, Lina Wertmüller (for Seven Beauties) and Barbra Streisand (for either Yentl or The Prince of Tides) are the only women nominated by the HFPA, DGA, and/or Academy to be snubbed by the BAFTAs.
Also, having just now gone through every BAFTA Best Director nominee ever, I can tell you that while they do tend to go in a more international direction, quicker to embrace British and European directors than the Academy, they’re also not above nominating Americans. This is only notable because the five men nominated this year hail from places like Guadalajara, London, Palermo, and Quebec whereas the snubbed women – Greta Gerwig (for Lady Bird), Patty Jenkins (for Wonder Woman), Bigelow (for Detroit), Dee Rees (for Mudbound) – are all American-born, Gerwig, Jenkins and Bigelow all in California and Rees in Tennessee (Nolan, to be fair, grew up in London AND Chicago). As such, you might be thinking, well, they are called the British Academy Film Awards. Maybe they just and quite understandably give extra attention to Brits and those from neighboring countries?
Sometimes, yes. That’s how Ken Loach was nominated for I, Daniel Blake (a worthy film that didn’t receive a single Oscar or Golden Globe nomination) last year over someone like Barry Jenkins for Moonlight. However, the BAFTAs have also nominated Scorsese for Best Director 10 times and Spielberg 6. Damien Chazelle won last year (as he did at the Oscars as well). Among his competitors was Tom Ford, the American fashion designer-turned-filmmaker whose 9 BAFTA nominations for Nocturnal Animals, including Best Director, was more than the number of nominations that film received from the HFPA, DGA, SAG, WGA, and Academy combined.
Let that last bit sink in for a second and possibly serve as a reminder the BAFTAs only share 500 voters with the Academy (out of over 7,000). As such, sometimes shit like Nocturnal Animals getting 9 BAFTAs nominations to 1 Oscar nod and 5 combined Golden Globe/Guild nominations happens.
So, Get Out receiving just 2 BAFTA nominations (for Screenplay and Actor) and Lady Bird just 3 (for Screenplay, Actress and Supporting Actress) doesn’t automatically mean anything, really. Jordan Peele and Greta Gerwig are still very much in play for Director and Best Picture Oscars. However, as the various awards bodies keep weighing in a picture is certainly emerging that the Director category is more likely to be all-male than not, and the only woman who probably has a realistic shot is Gerwig. Incidentally, the only black director with a shot is Peele since Rees’ Mudbound is mostly getting ignored.
Of course, Villeneuve is an absolutely worthy BAFTA nominee for Blade Runner: 2049, a film I personally adore, and Gerwig’s superb work behind the camera of Lady Bird is exactly the kind of subtle lensing which often nets you acting and writing nominations, not always directing (counterpoint: that didn’t stop Luca Guadagnino from getting a nomination) . Plus, she’s not the only being consistently snubbed here. Peele and Paul Thomas Anderson are right there with her. Still, the National Society of Film Critics and National Board of Review each named her Best Director. The BAFTAs (and HFPA) didn’t even think she was among the five Best let alone the absolute best.
What do you think?