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Oscars 2020: Still so white and unaware of any women directors

Here’s how Twitter reacted to the lack of women directors and only one person of color getting nominated in all four acting categories.

Oscars 2020: Still so white and unaware of any women directors
[Photos: The Farewell: Casi Moss/A24; Honey Boy: courtesy of Amazon Studios; Queen & Slim: Andre D. Wagner/Universal Pictures; Portrait Of A Lady On Fire: courtesy of Neon; Hustlers: Barbara Nitke/STXFilms: High Life: courtesy of A24]

Today is Oscar Nomination Day, and everyone is angry online. Again. (Well, except for Bong Joon-ho stans, who are excited to see him become the first-ever South Korean nominee for Best Director, and his Parasite become the first South Korean Best Picture contender.)

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The cinephiles are angry for a lot of reasons—personal faves snubbed, imaginary nemeses unduly elevated, entire genres unacknowledged—but mostly they’re angry for the same reasons as ever: Zero women directors nominated and only one person of color across all four acting categories.

Obviously, it’s not a phenomenon unique to 2020. The anger this year is larded with more disappointment than usual, though. Things were supposed to be getting better! The Academy had its come-to-Jesus moment multiple times, did some self-reflection, expanded its voting base, got woke. All of which is why so many are upset to see the Academy seemingly asleep at the wheel this year and plowing back in time instead of forward.

It’s as if the voters know enough now to rally around an undeniable tour de force from a nonwhite male (Bong Joon-ho and Parasite) or throw a bone to the kind of performance that’s historically always drawn Oscar attention (Cynthia Erivo as Harriet Tubman in Harriet), but otherwise retain the same pale, testosterrific tunnel vision as ever.

Issa Rae spoke for many observers after she announced the nominations for Best Director.

It’s not as if the Academy were starving for options either. Last year was an uncommonly strong year for movies all-around, complete with a banquet full of rich cinematic delights from women directors. There was Greta Gerwig, whose nomination for Ladybird back in 2018 seemed like begrudging progress, back again with an ornate and delightful take on Little Women; Alma Har’el with a stunning debut feature, Honey Boy; Claire Denis’ utterly out-there High Life; Lorene Scafaria’s rollicking box office and critical hit Hustlers; Céline Sciamma’s searing, atmospheric Portrait of a Lady on Fire; Melina Matsoukas’ lyrical love story Queen & Slim; and Lulu Wang’s rich, subtly charming indie hit The Farewell.

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There were many other movies directed by women, and there are apparently more to come than ever before. And yet, from the way the voting body remains stingy toward women directors, it’s surprising any women got nominated for Best Actress. Twitterers were mad about the Academy’s limited vision in this category, which mostly manifested in rage on behalf of Gerwig.

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Nominations for women in the acting categories were just as flabbergasting.

The amount of conversation generated by Scarlett Johansson’s performance in Jojo Rabbit or Margot Robbie in Bombshell couldn’t possibly power one of the fluorescent lights shining on Jennifer Lopez’s wizened stripper-criminal Ramona in Hustlers, a career apex for the 20-year vet.

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Lupita Nyong’o played two incredible roles in Jordan Peele’s Us and was overlooked for her efforts. It’s nearly as glaring an example of genre bias as it is disappointing from a diversity perspective or just that of a person who enjoys exciting, unforgettable acting choices.

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With so many snubs to fume over, when the Academy does get something right—like Greta Gerwig’s nomination for Best Adapted Screenplay—it almost feels like a mistake.

Let’s all meet back here on February 9, when the Oscar telecast airs, so we can get mad all over again.

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