The only thing James Worsdale has more Oscar reservations about than the lack of diversity in the directorial category is the potential disaster of Anne Hathaway and James Franco’s hosting chops. Oh well, at least Franco’s easy on the eyes.

On Tuesday morning Academy-Award winner Mo’nique and an old man with a New Jersey accent, who doesn’t know how to say Helena Bonham Carter’s first name, announced the 2011 Oscar nominees. There were few surprises for people who follow this sort of thing (and for people who don’t, well I guess they’re all surprises). For cynics and feminist cinephiles, like you all I’m sure, the omission of any female representation in the category of Best Director came as no surprise either.

Let’s get this out of the way: The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ bestowing the honor of an Oscar nomination upon a film is a practice obviously fraught with problematic complications and is too burdened with outside interests to honestly be considered as a metric for artistic achievement. The people who make films and who act in films do it to make films, not necessarily to gain accolades (aside from, of course, the self-indulgent pop stars turned film stars).

That being said, an Oscar is a reassuring recognition that your work is appreciated by your peers and it can serve as insurance both for an individual’s career and for cultural longevity. Though the institution of the Oscars could be viewed as the culmination of capitalism, patriarchy, racism and heteronormativity’s complete consumption of, and then dictation of, artistic standards in film, this view should not lead to a complete disregard for the institution’s relevance. Rather, it should lead to a deconstruction of the institution, as it exists, to see what it indicates about the film industry as a whole and to see what we as a culture value and praise.

The issue of women in Hollywood, particularly as directors, is a dialogue that people were paying more attention to last year, with what seemed to be the phenomenon of a woman directing an apolitical war film, and a dialogue in which some people’s positions were quite brazenly (though certainly appropriately) expressed. But with only 9 percent of Hollywood directors being women, this is an issue that the industry is hardly past.

This year’s award circuit, most recently the Oscar nominations, missed out on several opportunities to award great female-centric work in film. The five titles I’m highlighting were all directed by women as well.

Fish Tank directed by Andrea Arnold

A coming of age story that centers around the aggressively brooding but clandestinely sensitive Mia in a lower class British community, director Andrea Arnold repeatedly alludes to animals and their imprisonment and adopts kitchen-sink realist themes and styles in this beautiful and sad tale. Even literary celebrity and sideshow misogynist Bret Easton Ellis liked it. Though it did win the BAFTA for best film in 2010, leading me to believe oversight from the American awards circuit had more to do with timing. But nonetheless, it was inadequately appreciated this side of the pond.

Please Give directed by Nicole Holofcener

Probably the funniest and most insightful comedy — not to sacrifice subtlety and nuance in the process — that I’ve seen this year, or, maybe ever. Nicole Holofcener’s characters are funny and flawed, LIKE REAL PEOPLE! IMAGINE! Kate’s cluelessly bourgeois good intentions, Mary’s cringe-worthy falling into a Ralph and Alice Kramden pairing affair: all of the characters are so memorable and relatable that it pains and angers me this movie did not garner more attention! Plus, Holofcener is the only director to make Jennifer Aniston palatable since, well ever. I think that warrants her a Noble Prize. She knows as well as any though, that “the world is getting less sexist, but it’s still really sexist.”

Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work directed by Ricki Stern and Anne Sundberg

Undoubtedly a feminist manifesto and undoubtedly acclaimed, this comedienne-centered documentary illustrates the raw drive behind this overcooked face, which has become so ingrained in our collective consciousness. Joan Rivers, a force and master of resilience, shows how much harder it is to maintain that force is when you’re in such a boys’ club of an industry such as comedy. The film makes the point that in show business no matter how hard you may work, no reward is greater than the opportunity to keep working. Because like all good feminists, Joan Rivers’s work is never done!

Somewhere directed by Sofia Coppola

Because I live in North Carolina, and limited releases trickle down the coast quite slowly, I have not had the opportunity to see Coppola’s most recent endeavor. But the underwhelming awards response to it is discouraging nonetheless. Hopefully her Marie Antoinette misstep will not plague her with permanent critical disregard.

Night Catches Us directed by Tanya Hamilton

This is another film that hasn’t yet gotten distribution to theaters around here, so I’m working from hearsay. This is Tanya Hamilton’s first film and it debuted at Sundance garnering great reviews. Anthony Mackie and Kerry Washington’s performances both are apparently perfect. And The Roots’ score is supposed to be exceptional. In addition to this film’s oversight potentially embodying the problems of being a new female director, it also could serve as an example of oversight of the work of people of color in film. Perhaps it serves as an indicator of how we’re comfortable seeing black people in America portrayed on the big screen in some films that receive wide distribution, while others, such as Hamilton’s, are often disregarded, even by the elite.

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