Women Missing from the Oscars Again

Oscar Statuette

Oscar Seldom Goes Home with Women

The 85th Academy Awards will be handed out this Sunday, but once again, talented women are being ignored for the top honors. The Academy’s record on women is abysmal, but they have managed to do even worse this year.

The Women’s Media Center has reported that there are no female nominees this year for Directing, Cinematography, Film Editing, Writing (Original Screenplay), Music (Original Score), Visual Effects or Sound Mixing.  There were five female nominees in those categories last year.

The single woman nominated for a writing award, for best adapted screenplay, is Lucy Alibar for Beasts of the Southern Wild, who shares credit with Benhn Zeitlin (who’s also been nominated for Best Director). Across 19 categories 140 men were nominated for awards versus 35 women. You can see the Women’s Media Center’s breakdown of the nominees in all categories with comparisons to last year on their blog.

In 2009 Kathryn Bigelow’s film The Hurt Locker won as Best Picture, and Bigelow made history as the first women in 82 years to win an Oscar  as Best Director.  This year, her film Zero Dark Thirty has been nominated for Best Picture, and so it is especially surprising that she has not been nominated as Best Director.

On Sunday, we will be rooting for the women who did get nominated, and we are especially excited about the nomination of Amy Ziering and Kirby Dick in the Best Documentary Feature category for The Invisible War, their powerful film about the sexual assaults of women in the military by men in their own units. The film focuses attention on members of the U.S. military who have been sexually assaulted (19,300 in 2010 alone), and especially on the plight of female soldiers who often find themselves ostracized or pressured into remaining silent about their rapes.

It will be wonderful if the film wins an Oscar, but it is even more impressive that the film is having an impact on military policy.  There have already been changes in the protocol for reporting the crimes, and hopefully the film will stimulate more legislative action to prevent further assaults on women in the military.

In 85 years only four women have been nominated for Best Director, and only one (Kathryn Bigelow) has won.  Our colleague at Women and Hollywood, Melissa Silverstein, has compiled excerpts from films directed by women. You can watch the clips below to see if you agree with her that these women should have been nominated for Oscars in the Best Director category.