Natalie Portman isn’t all that popular in these parts. She was never Duana’s favourite and she was one of my favourites until she wasn’t and Sarah calls her Natalie Never. Last night at the Golden Globes though, Natalie Portman, while presenting the Best Director award, went for blood:
I’ve now watched this back a dozen times. You can see it in her eyes, what she’s planning, when Ron Howard is talking, she stares at the camera as if to give warning. Then, instead of rushing into the introduction, she pauses, she waits until the floor is completely hers, take a breath, leans in, and does not stumble:
“And here are the all-male nominees…”
Knowing that what happens next is the reading of the names of the all-male nominees. Knowing that the camera will be cutting to the faces of the all-male nominees. Knowing that that shot will further underscore her point.
It was ruthless and intentional, as ruthlessness almost always is. Because if you’re going to make a point, you might as well make the f-cking point, so that there can be no doubt about that point. And the point was not to embarrass those particular men (as some are whining about today) but to call out the system, a system that recognises only men in the directing category while also naming a film directed by a woman as the Best Comedy/Musical of the Year.
And remember, this happened right after Oprah’s acceptance speech. When Oprah took the entire ballroom to church and everyone was doped up on her sermon and, as Duana observed, instead of cutting to commercial break, so no one would have follow Oprah, because who wants to follow Oprah, and we wouldn’t have to f-cking follow what Oprah just did with a category that acknowledged that only men were the best directors in the business in 2017, Natalie Portman steps up like… well… after what she just said, this is what I’m going to f-cking say. I can defend that all day.
I will not, however, defend her black velvet dress. Mostly because this is the kind of dress that people wear in Victorian haunted house movies and if that’s the look, then lean into the look with some dark lipstick and not-so-delicate jewellery. But then again, maybe she didn’t have to. Maybe the savageness of what she did on stage was the ultimate complement to her outfit.
Remember, Oscar nomination voting is now underway until this coming Friday. The Academy is paying attention. And it’s not like they don’t have options for female directors. There’s the aforementioned Greta Gerwig. And Patty Jenkins directed Wonder Woman, one of the most successful movies of the year. Wonder Woman has just been nominated for a Producers Guild Award which certainly improves its Best Picture Oscar nomination chances. And Dee Rees, an outside shot to be sure, who directed Mudbound, one of the most acclaimed films of the year. But if Ridley Scott can be on list after list of possible Best Director nominees, why not Dee Rees, especially since All The Money In The World isn’t even close to as well-received as Mudbound has been. The thing with Ridley, of course, is that people are all over him this year because he had to work on such a tight schedule to replace Kevin Spacey with Christopher Plummer. Which is probably everyone’s forgotten that he just said this three years ago about casting and diversity in Gods Of Egypt:
"I can’t mount a film of this budget, where I have to rely on tax rebates in Spain, and say that my lead actor is Mohammad so-and-so from such-and-such. I’m just not going to get it financed. So the question doesn’t even come up."
Mohammad so-and-so from such-and-such!
So will the Academy’s list look like the Globes? Will Ridley Scott be on it? Will any female directors be invited?