It’s been a great year for black American cinema, as evidenced by the Golden Globes nominations which include Black Panther, BlacKkKlansman, and If Beale Street Could Talk for Best Picture. (Sorry to Bother You is too weird for award shows, but let us not forget it is one of the best films of the year.) BlacKkKlansman and Beale Street are considerable contenders for Best Picture nominations at the Oscars, so this is just their respective campaigns making a necessary pit stop along the way. But because of the Academy’s genre bias, things are much less certain for Black Panther, though it is beginning to rack up enough precursor notices to put its Oscar hopes on stronger footing. Besides the Globes nom, it has been named to the AFI’s Movies of the Year list, and was recognized as part of the National Board of Review’s Top Films. Momentum, it is gathering.
Of those three films, though, only Spike Lee was recognized for directing, though Barry Jenkins was nominated for Best Screenplay. I just wonder how you watch Beale Street and then don’t nominate Jenkins for his direction. It’s a beautifully directed film, full of interesting choices and Jenkins’ unique fingerprints. Like how do you legit think that Peter Farrelly is a better director than Barry Jenkins? I would like the HFPA to explain themselves.
I would also like to know why, once again, there are no women nominated for Best Director. Even after Natalie Portman stared them down and called out the bias, there STILL isn’t a single woman represented in Best Director or Best Picture. BRYAN SINGER is Best Picture-adjacent with Bohemian Rhapsody, but not one woman can be responsible for a big prize? And don’t tell me there were no films directed by women this year that are worthy contenders. Here is a short list of 2018 films made by women which have been recognized by other award bodies/critical groups:
Leave No Trace
You Were Never Really Here
Can You Ever Forgive Me?
And this isn’t even touching on the worthwhile films directed by women that aren’t part of the award conversation, like What They Had, The Miseducation of Cameron Post, and The Land of Steady Habits. So there are options. And not ONE of them deserved a nomination? Bullsh-t. The Rider is as good as or better than everything the HFPA nominated. At this point, no effort is being made to overcome a bias and it will only look worse with every passing year.
So yes, it’s exciting that Black Panther is one inch closer to an Oscar nomination. And it’s great that the Golden Globes do reflect that it was a good year for black cinema. But they continue to drop the ball on recognizing female filmmakers, something that probably won’t get better with the Oscars. (In five years it’s going to look completely ludicrous that Chloe Zhao didn’t get any recognition.) Better representation at award shows continues to be one step forward, one step not even taken because “back” would imply forward progress had been made at some point and there has been no progress.
See the complete list of nominees here.