In today’s social climate we are continually faced with the question of moral values. What we find right, or wrong and the fight for justice of those miss or underrepresented. This is most apparent in media; social, television, and definitely film. The public as seemingly majority have become uneasy at the underrepresentation of women in film. The keyword here is “underrepresentation”. The Academy Awards have been for the most part a guiding light for the film industry. They have the special opportunity to decide who gets recognized as the “best of the best” of the previous year. If such careful consideration is made when nominating these individuals, why do we care so much when our favorites do not get chosen? If this prestigious institution was created as the voice of the film industry, who are we to defer? It is simple, when great bodies of work go unnoticed we have the natural desire to fight for their representation.
The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines underrepresented as “inadequately represented”. I genuinely believe that Lulu Wang and many other women are being inadequately represented at the 92nd Academy Awards. If we just solely base the criteria (in which individuals are nominated) alone on works, Lulu Wang’s The Farewell is the top tier. The ability to tell a story through cultures and multiple languages adds such a level of difficulty that I can say most directors would not be able to get right. The simple and elegant way in which this complex story was told qualifies her to be up next to the other greats directors of 2019. This in no way shadows, or discredits the men who have been nominated already. This is about individuals being severely underrepresented for their hard work. I can accept, as with probably most people that the men nominated created some of the best movies of the decade even. Which begs another insight, maybe we have too many good movies?
We have been so blessed in 2019. Blessed with just incredible, thought-provoking, culture-shifting, works of art. From everything to international film to domestic. We have had so many great films. So could this just stem from having too much to choose from? I don’t think so, but it probably does have some sort of effect on how a director is nominated. Let me explain, The Academy voting body is divided into 17 different branches. A branch for actors, directors, editing, and you get the idea. The nominees in each category are chosen from votes from each specific branch, experts in their field. In the decision to nominate in the category for best director, only directors can vote. The same with actors and so forth. After each member submits 5 to 10 potential nominees the ballots are then sorted based on their 1st place choice. If the 1st place choice reaches a specific number, say 400 votes, then it is automatically chosen as a nominee. What happens to the second, third, or fourth place votes? Great question! Accountants then sort through the stacks, removing stack with the least amount of votes, the first fewest 1st place votes. I know, it’s confusing, but hang in there. This stack is now moved and counted towards 2nd place votes. For example, let’s say that Speilberg receives the fewest amount of 1st place votes. This stack then gets reassigned and counted for his 2nd place votes, if his votes reach the magical number (we said 400), he will be nominated next in line. After all of the nomination ballots are counted, a new ballot is sent to the members of The Academy with the nominees (chosen by their experts). The Academy then votes as a whole on who was chosen by its category’s experts. So, Ron Howard, Academy member as a director then votes on the nominees for Best Actor, Best Cinematography and so on. The final decisions are then chosen by the esteemed members of The Academy. Whew. Individuals or movies can get lost in this nomination process.
A new director, with not a lot of experience, or notoriety under her belt could be very well overlooked by the individual members of The Academy. Also being that The Farewell is a largely independent feature, it is difficult to stack up to the big, blockbuster films directed by the likes of Scorsese, Tarantino, and Mendes. These female directors are fighting for the opportunity to be in the spotlight and I believe people are finally taking notice.
There will be plenty of opportunities in the coming years for these resilient women to be recognized, so I say do not let this discourage you. Continue making incredible films and continue to show us that female directors are in fact equal and not lesser than their male counterparts. Women can and have been creating wonderful films for years and are not subjected to the stereotypical ideologies of love and romance. Jo March said it best in Greta Gerwig’s adaption of Little Women.
“Women, they have minds, and they have souls, as well as just hearts. And they’ve got ambition, and they’ve got talent, as well as just beauty. I’m so sick of people saying that love is just all a woman is fit for”
Lulu Wang should have been nominated. However, this is not a defining moment for Lulu. Not being nominated for best director does not detract from the fact that she has one of the most inspiring and best films of the year. I hope that she and other female creators will continue to inspire a new generation of filmmakers because it only gets better from here.
If you have an opinion on this matter, let me know in the comments.