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And Now, Thanks to the BAFTAs, We Have to Talk About The “All-Male Nominees” Again

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?

Here’s a link to the full list of BAFTA nominees.


  1. Here is the thing: I am not big on Wonder Woman, no matter how culturally important that movie might be. And I haven’t seen any of the other movies, so I can’t tell if they are great or not. But what really springs in my mind that at both the Golden Globe and the Bafta, Lady Bird was nominated for multiple categories. So by the standard of those voters the movie has apparently great acting performances, a great script, but somehow the director which lead those actors to those performances and adapted said script doesn’t deserve a nod? That stinks!

    1. WW is what it is. Mudbound would probably be getting more attention if it wasn’t a Netflix movie. Detroit came out at the wrong time and has largely been overshadowed by present-day instances of police brutality. However, Bigelow’s mastery of tension during the film’s centerpiece scene at the Algiers Hotel with cops interrogating a group of people we know to be innocent and they soon know to be as well but won’t stop because they’re already in too deep is easily among the best sequences of any film of 2017.

      Then there’s Lady Bird, which, as you said, is oddly being recognized for its acting and script and, in some cases, as a film entirely yet not for direction. Stinks indeed.

      BAFTA has now defended the all-male nominees as being a reflection of the industry, but that’s bullshit, not in a year in which Greta Gerwig made Lady Bird and Kathryn Bigelow made Detroit. What it reflects, more, is simply that American-based dramas overperform at the Oscars and underperform with the HFPA and BAFTAs. I don’t think there’s any kind of overt sexism at play here; I think to the BAFTA voters the very European coming-of-age story of Call Me By Your Name and understated direction by Luca Guardagnino registered more with them than Gerwig’s similar direction for a coming-of-age story about a California girl who just really wants to move to New York and is completely ungrateful to her mom. Similarly, as with the Globes, they looked at an American-based story like Three Billboards and saw something they liked exactly because it is a film which looks at its story through a foreign-point of view, offering Martin McDonagh’s take on what he thinks the American midwest is like.

      If the DGA snubs Gerwig, though, then I’ll be less forgiving.

      1. Here is my problem with the “reflects the industry” argument: Getting academy award nods is pretty much the ladder directors need to climb. If they get nominated they automatically get more offers – or at least, male directors do. Female directors don’t get the same attention for a win male directors get for a nomination. But if they are never even nominated at all, they stay in the shadows which in turn leads to all the male directors getting those juicy projects and then the various award shows saying “yeah, we just reflect the industry”. They don’t reflect the industry, they are part of the industry. And while I don’t want a movie to be nominated to fulfil a certain quota, I don’t think that those award shows can act as if the lack of female directors is not related to how the system they are part of works at all.

      2. When it comes down to it, that’s exactly what these awards shows offer: exposure. They don’t mean as much as they used to for box office, and the proliferation of the sheer number of awards shows as well as the Academy’s expansion of its Best Picture category has somewhat devalued things. However, the Oscars and Golden Globes are two of THE most-watched awards shows on all of TV (I think the Grammys are second-most watched, Oscars first and Globes third), and as Oprah said in her Globes speech we undervalue the power of minorities or statistical majorities who are somehow treated like minorities (i.e., women) seeing themselves represented in the winners and nominees. Moreover, as you said, fair or not a nomination or win equals exposure which equals more negotiating leverage which equals a higher chance of working on further projects, the type where you finally don’t have to scrape, beg, borrow and steal to get funding for. It’s one way to climb the ladder.

        So, yeah, this shit matters to the industry and the women and people of color in it, and while I have been sympathetic to the “just reflecting the industry” argument in year’s past it’s harder to swallow when this year, for a change, actually offered multiple potential nominees.

        Worth noting that as far as director goes: THR’s most recent predictions are that among the BAFTA and Globe nominees only Nolan and Del Toro are locks. Gerwig and Peele are expected to be nominated. It’s the fifth slot which is a bit more contentious. They have Spielberg in there for The Post, but the way that film is getting shunned by every major awards group means Florida Project’s Sean Baker, Call Me By Your Name, Three Billboards and several others are serious contenders. Jenkins, on the other hand, is still considered a long shot, and Dee Rees and Kathryn Bigelow aren’t even considered legit contenders anymore.

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