When the 2024 Academy Awards nominations were revealed, and Greta Gerwig and Margot Robbie's names were nowhere to be found in the Best Director and Best Actress categories, respectively, the internet went bonkers. Kevin Mazur / Getty Images for Critics Choice Association Supporting actors like Ryan Gosling and America Ferrera (both nominated), and Simu Liu, John Cena, and Ncuti Gatwa shared their support for their Barbie creators. Even Hillary Clinton tweeted to show her support for the record-breaking film, which was shocking.
discourse around Margot and Greta's Oscars snubs created an online debate because it overshadowed the accomplishments or omissions of other women. For example, Lily Gladstone has become the first Native American to be nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actress. Shane Anthony Sinclair / Shane Anthony Sinclair / Getty Images for Warner Bros While I enjoyed watching Barbie as a Greta Gerwig superfan — my worn-out copies of Greenberg and Frances Ha can attest to that — we must have a much bigger conversation here. For example, Justine Triet, nominated for Best Director for Anatomy of a Fall (2023), is only the eighth woman nominated for the category. Gilbert Carrasquillo / GC Images Yes, you read that correctly. Out of 96 ceremonies since the first Academy Awards in 1929, only eight female directors have been nominated for Best Director. Make it make sense.
It's nine nominations overall since Jane Campion, who directed
The Piano (1993) and The Power of the Dog (2022), was nominated twice. Laurent Koffel / Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images In 1976, Seven Beauties' Italian director, Lina Wertmüller, made history as the first woman nominated for the category, so it took a hot minute to even recognize that female filmmakers were in the game to begin with. Seven Beauties was also nominated for Best Foreign Language Film, Best Screenplay, and Best Actor for Giancarlo Giannini, and it won nothing. Caren Golden / Getty Images In 2003, Sofia Coppola was the first American woman nominated in the category for the film Lost in Translation. And yes, many movies were made by women worldwide before these milestones.
For years, films with female filmmakers at the helm received rave reviews and several Academy nominations for Best Actor, Best Screenplay, and even Best Picture without a Best in Directing nomination, just like Greta.
In fact, this isn't the first time this has happened to the
Lady Bird director. Focus Films / Â©Focus Films/Courtesy Everett Collection If it wasn't bad enough that being a woman stood in the way of specific recognition — if they were a woman of color or queer, their film might be excluded entirely. / ©TriStar Pictures/Courtesy Everett Collection, Focus Features / Â©Focus Features/Courtesy Everett Collection So, to bring attention to the big picture — I gathered 21 movies directed by women besides Barbie that deserved at least a Best Director nomination. 1. Children of a Lesser God (1986) Children of a Lesser God, starring William Hurt and Marlee Matlin, was directed by Randa Haines . The movie was nominated for Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Supporting Actress, Best Actor, Best Actress, and Best Picture. Although Matlin won that year, making her the youngest Best Actress winner, Haines received no recognition in the Best Director category. Paramount / Â©Paramount/Courtesy Everett Collection, Vince Bucci 2. Yentl (1983)
Aside from the leading role,
Yentl was co-written, co-produced, and directed by Barbra Streisand in her directorial debut. The movie received five nominations, including Best Supporting Actress, Best Art Direction, Best Original Song Score, and Best Original Song. However, Streisand received no nod. Hulton Archive / Getty Images, Garcia / Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images 3. Awakenings (1990)
Penny Marshall, the legendary filmmaker of movies like
Big and A League of Their Own, directed Awakenings, starring Robert De Niro and Robin Williams. While the film was a hit, racking up nominations for Best Picture, Best Adapted Screenplay, and Best Actor for Robert — Penny received no nomination. Columbia Pictures / Â©Columbia Pictures/Courtesy Everett Collection, Chris Weeks / Getty Images for Hollywood Film 4. The Prince of Tides (1991)
Once again, Barbra Streisand was on the receiving end of a major Oscars snub with
The Prince of Tides. The movie, starring herself and Nick Nolte, received seven nominations, including Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Supporting Actress, Best Screenplay, Best Art Direction, Best Cinematography, and Best Original Score. Unfortunately, Streisand was snubbed for the Best Directing category for the second time. Columbia Pictures / Â©Columbia Pictures/courtesy Everett Co / Everett Collection, Gilbert Carrasquillo / FilmMagic 5. Little Miss Sunshine (2006) Little Miss Sunshine was a delightful box office success directed by Valerie Faris and Jonathan Dayton. It was nominated for Best Picture, Best Supporting Actor, Best Supporting Actress, and Best Original Screenplay. While Alan Arkin took home an award for his supporting role and Michael Arndt for the screenplay — Valerie and Jonathan didn't even get a nomination. Fox Searchlight / Â©Fox Searchlight/Courtesy Everett Collection, Frazer Harrison / Getty Images 6. An Education (2009)
One of my all-time favorite films,
An Education, starring Carey Mulligan and Peter Sarsgaard, was directed by Lone Scherfig. The movie was nominated for Best Picture, Best Actress for Carey, and Best Adapted Screenplay for celebrated writer Nick Hornby. There was no nomination for Lone. Sony Pictures / Â©Sony Pictures/Courtesy Everett Collection, Clara Margais / Getty Images 7. The Kids Are All Right (2010) The Kids Are All Right was co-written and directed by Lisa Cholodenko, the brilliant filmmaker behind the award-winning Olive Kitteridge. The LGBTQ comedy-drama starring Annette Bening, Julianne Moore, and Mark Ruffalo was another personal favorite. Seeing it receive four Academy nominations for Best Picture, Best Actress for Annette, Best Supporting Actor for Mark, and Best Original Screenplay was pleasing. Like Greta, Lisa was recognized only for her screenplay rather than her directing. Focus Features / Â©Focus Features/Courtesy Everett Collection, Matt Winkelmeyer / Getty Images 8. Winter's Bone (2010)
The critically acclaimed film that put Jennifer Lawrence on the map was directed by Debra Granik. The movie received four Oscar nominations for Best Picture, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Actress for Jennifer (which made her one of the youngest nominees), and Best Supporting Actor for John Hawkes. Like many others, Debra received recognition for her screenplay but not directing.
Roadside Attractions / Â©Roadside Attractions/Courtesy Everett Collection, Matt Winkelmeyer / Getty Images 9. Zero Dark Thirty (2012)
Following Kathryn Bigelow's historic win as the first woman to win Best Director in 2008 for
The Hurt Locker, it seemed apparent her next film would earn similar accolades. Zero Dark Thirty, starring Jessica Chastain, was nominated in five categories: Best Picture, Best Actress for Jessica, Best Original Screenplay, Best Film Editing, and Best Sound Editing. Zero Dark Thirty tied for Best Sound Editing with Skyfall, but Kathryn's name for directing was absent despite all other nominations. Columbia Pictures / Â©Columbia Pictures/Courtesy Everett Collection, Andrew Toth / Getty Images for IRC 10. Selma (2014) Selma, starring David Oyelowo as Martin Luther King Jr., was directed by Ava DuVernay. This biopic made Ava a household name and earned her recognition from multiple critics associations and awards groups, including the Golden Globes, for her outstanding direction. In 2015, it was nominated for Best Picture and Best Original Song. While John Legend and Common won Best Original Song for "Glory," Ava didn't even get a nod at the Academy. Paramount / Â©Paramount/Courtesy Everett Collection, Arturo Holmes / Getty Images 11. Mudbound (2017) Mudbound was a historical drama directed by Dee Rees. The historical drama received four Academy Award nominations: Best Supporting Actress and Best Original Song for Mary J. Blige, Best Adapted Screenplay, and Best Cinematography. It made history, being the first time a woman was nominated for cinematography. But like many before, Dee's direction was overlooked despite being noticed for her screenplay. Courtesy Everett Collection / Â©Netflix/Courtesy Everett Collection / Everett Collection, Matt Winkelmeyer / Getty Images 12. Can You Ever Forgive Me? (2018) Story continues Can You Ever Forgive Me? starring Melissa McCarthy and Richard E. Grant, was directed by Marielle Heller. Marielle also directed A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood (2019). The film earned nominations for actors Melissa and Richard and writers Nicole Holofcener and Jeff Whitty but nothing for Marielle. Photo By Mary Cybulski / Fox Searchlight / Everett Collection, V E Anderson / WireImage 13. Little Women (2019)
Barbie isn't the first time Greta Gerwig has been shut out from the directing category. Following her Academy nomination for her solo directorial debut, Lady Bird (2017), and four other additional nominations, it was expected Little Women would follow suit. Little Women received six Academy Award nominations for Best Picture, Best Actress for Saoirse Ronan, Best Supporting for Florence Pugh, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Costume Design, and Best Original Score. Like the 2024 Oscars, Greta wasn't acknowledged for her directing. Columbia Pictures / courtesy Everett Collection, Noam Galai / Getty Images 14. Honey Boy (2019) Honey Boy, starring Shia LaBeouf, Lucas Hedges, and Noah Jupe, was directed by Alma Har'el. Following its premiere at the Sundance Film Festival, critics lauded it for the actors' performances and Alma's direction. She won the Directors Guild of America Award for Outstanding Directing, but the movie received no Academy Awards nominations. Amazon Studios / courtesy Everett Collection, Amanda Edwards / Getty Images 15. CODA (2021)
Academy-award-winning actor Marlee Matlin returned in this adaptation of a Belgian French film,
CODA, which ultimately dominated the award season. But, like Children of a Lesser God, the film's director, Sian Heder, didn't receive much recognition outside pleasantries. The movie won the Academy Award for Best Picture, Best Supporting Actor for Troy Kotsur, and Best Adapted Screenplay for Sian's script — no nomination for directing. Apple TV+ / Courtesy Everett Collection, Jon Kopaloff / Getty Images for Vanity Fair 16. Women Talking (2022) Women Talking, starring Rooney Mara, Claire Foy, Jessie Buckley, Judith Ivey, Ben Whishaw, and Frances McDormand, was directed by Sarah Polley. The film was nominated for Best Picture, and Sarah received an Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay. Despite being nominated by several critics' associations for Best Director, her name was excluded from the Academy nominations in this category. Orion Pictures / courtesy Everett Collection, Axelle / FilmMagic 17. The Woman King (2022)
The action-packed historical drama
The Woman King, starring EGOT-winner Viola Davis, is one of the most devastating stories of Oscar snubs. The groundbreaking film directed by Gina Prince-Bythewood and produced by Viola was a female-forward production with women as producers, cinematographers, and editors.
The film received nominations for Best Direction for Gina, Best Actress for Viola, and Rising Star for Sheila Atim at the British Academy Film Awards. As for the Oscars, the film didn't receive a single nomination. Imagine Meryl Streep or Frances McDormand producing a movie where they portray a warrior and do their own stunts and not receive a single Academy nomination. Unbelievable.
TriStar Pictures /Courtesy Everett Collection, Dimitrios Kambouris / Getty Images for FLC 18. Till (2022) Till was a heartbreaking biographical drama directed by Chinonye Chukwu. After becoming the first African-American woman to win the U.S. Dramatic Grand Jury Prize at Sundance, you would think the film would at least be included in the primary awards season. However, the film's stars, Danielle Deadwyler and Chinonye, were shut out of most awards ceremonies despite being honored by major critics' associations for their work. United Artists Releasing / Courtesy Everett Collection, Steve Granitz / FilmMagic 19. Aftersun (2022) Aftersun was a coming-of-age drama that put its star, Paul Mescal, on the map as a leading man. The film, directed by Charlotte Wells, received critical acclaim following its debut at the Cannes Film Festival. Charlotte received several awards and nominations for her work, including a BAFTA and Directors Guild of America Award for her direction. However, the only nomination for the Academy Awards was Best Actor for Paul. A24 / Courtesy Everett Collection, Euan Cherry / Getty Images for BAFTA 20. She Said (2022) She Said, directed by Maria Schrader, starred Carey Mulligan and Zoe Kazan. The adaptation was well-received by critics and listed as one of the best films of the year by the American Film Institute. The film received Academy Award nominations for Best Supporting Actress for Carey and Best Adapted Screenplay for Rebecca Lenkiewicz, but no nominations or recognition for Maria.
It feels like, by design, if women primarily create a film, it ensures the lack of award recognition.
Universal Pictures / Courtesy Everett Collection, Hannes Magerstaedt / Getty Images 21. Past Lives (2023)
In the same year as Greta's
Barbie, director Celine Song's directorial debut on Past Lives generated incredible buzz for her direction, screenplay, and its leading actor, Greta Lee. The film received five Golden Globe nominations and the coveted Academy Award nominations for Best Picture and Best Original Screenplay. Yet, Greta and Celine were snubbed for Best Director and Actress nominations, just like Margot and Greta. A24 / courtesy Everett Collection, Taylor Hill / FilmMagic Ultimately, many critically acclaimed films directed and written by women were left out of major awards ceremonies. This year alone, movies like Fair Play, Joy Ride, Bottoms, Polite Society, You Hurt My Feelings, Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret, and A Thousand and One were excluded from conversations.
If this many were left out of the 2023 lineup, imagine how many were overlooked since the first Academy Awards in 1929. Short answer: a whole lot more than just
Barbie. Lionsgate /Courtesy Everett Collection, / ©Lions Gate/Courtesy Everett Collection Are there any movies with female directors you think deserved a nomination I didn't include?
Let me know in the comments.