The headlines leading up to the 2020 Academy Awards often spoke of the things we wouldn’t be seeing the night of the show. One glaring omission was the women missing from the Best Directors category. The new decade marked another year in which the Academy nominated only men for the prestigious honor. In a year when women directors made some of the most beloved and interesting films, the snub was especially painful. Like many, actor Natalie Portman was upset, and she used fashion on the red carpet to call it out.
Portman attended the Oscars wearing a black and gold Dior dress accompanied by a cape that had the names of some women directors embroidered along its edge. The list included Greta Gerwig who made Little Women, Lulu Wang who directed The Farewell, and Lorene Scafaria, the director of Hustlers. “I wanted to recognize the women who were not recognized for their incredible work this year in my subtle way,” Portman explained on the red carpet that night.
This isn’t the first time that Portman has voiced her dissatisfaction with the Academy voters in a very public way. In 2018, she presented the award for Best Director (with Ron Howard), and when it came time to announce the names, she said, “And here are the all-male nominees.”
Despite her very widely publicized displays for equal recognition, there has been a growing outcry for Portman’s own production company (Handsomecharlie Films) to reflect that which she is publicly calling for. Of the 11 films her company has produced, only 2 of the films are directed by a woman (both of whom happen to be Portman herself). It should be noted that this isn’t due to a lack of trying. Portman had reportedly taken issue with the Thor films because she wanted Patty Jenkins to direct the sequel.
Regardless of whether it is performative as some suggest, there’s no denying that Portman’s call-outs are very much warranted and that they’re bringing attention to a very real issue in the industry. In the 92 years of the Oscars, only five women have ever been nominated in the directing category. Kathryn Bigelow was the only one of them to ever win for her film The Hurt Locker in 2008.
Actor Natalie Portman expressed her dissatisfaction that the Academy voters had, yet again. not nominated any women for the Best Directors category. Her statement included wearing a cape that had the name of women directors embroidered along its edge.
The directors on her cape were: Lorene Scafaria (Hustlers), Greta Gerwig (Little Women), Lulu Wang (The Farewell), Marielle Heller (A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood), Melina Matsoukas (Queen & Slim), Alma Har’el (Honey Boy), Céline Sciamma (Portrait of a Lady on Fire), and Mati Diop (Atlantics).
— Amy Kaufman (@AmyKinLA) February 10, 2020
This isn’t the first time Portman has called out the lack of female directors in the Oscars category. She did so in 2018, too.