Just like last year, exactly zero women received nominations in the Best Director category at the 2020 Academy Awards. And once again, actor Natalie Portman found a way to highlight the gendered oversight, showing up on the red carpet in a Dior cape with the last names of snubbed female directors embroidered in gold: Lulu Wang (The Farewell); Greta Gerwig (Little Women, which snagged nominations in six other categories, including best picture); Lorene Scafaria (Hustlers, for which J-Lo was also snubbed); Marielle Heller (A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, for which Tom Hanks received an acting nod); Mati Diop (Atlantics); Melina Matsoukas (Queen & Slim), Alma Har’el (Honey Boy) and Céline Sciamma (Portrait of a Lady on Fire).
“I wanted to recognize the women who were not recognized for their incredible work this year in a subtle way,” Portman explained.
Back in 2018, when Portman introduced the directing category at the Golden Globes, she introduced the potential honorees with a pointed “here are the all-male nominees.” Said nominees did not do a particularly good job of keeping their faces courteous as the camera panned around for reaction shots, although some subsequently clarified that they appreciated her point.
In any case, Portman wasn’t the only one to bring up the monotonous nature of the Best Director nominee pool on Sunday. Comedian Chris Rock joked that “vaginas” were the thing conspicuously missing from the category this year, so I personally am feeling thankful for the subtlety of Portman’s statement.