I have a theory. Awards seasons are designed to disappoint us: 1) The status quo is easy; 2) Disappointment breeds angry hot takes on Twitter, and angry hot takes are good as gold in the internet era; 3) Oscar-baiting is an easy game to play when you’ve got the power (and money) to do it. Just look at last year’s Academy Award nominations: Sixty-six percent of the Best Picture nominees were about white men; no women directors earned a nod; and one person of color out of 20 was nominated for an acting award. This follows a simplistic, fixed pattern that dates back far beyond 2020, in every accolade from the Golden Globes to the Screen Actors Guild Awards. Netflix, Sony and Disney—studios with the big bucks—led the Oscar nominations in 2020. It would be shocking if 2021 were to differ in any exceptional way.
Except…it might. On November 12, the IFP Gotham Awards announced its nominees, and for the first time in history, women directed every one of the nominees for best feature: The Assistant, directed by Kitty Green; First Cow, directed by Kelly Reichardt; Never Rarely Sometimes Always, directed by Eliza Hittman; Nomadland, directed by Chloé Zhao; and Relic, directed by Natalie Erika James.
Gotham isn’t likely to be the harbinger of ultimate change for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, given its relatively low spot on the totem pole of awards ceremonies leading up to the Oscars. And, of course, Gotham is naturally inclined to celebrate indie darlings, unlike the Oscars, which tend to bend toward bigger productions. But such a clear sweep by women directors sends a bright flare into the sky, a signal of what needs immediate attention.
Women and people of color are making incredible movies. Might the time have come to break with the status quo, and get those angry hot takes burning about something other than seats full of men and #OscarsSoWhite? Might it be time we aren’t so disappointed?
Gotham Award winners will be announced on January 11, 2021. Here are the rest of the nominees:
Never Rarely Sometimes Always
Our Time Machine
A Thousand Cuts
Best International Feature
Bingham Ray Breakthrough Director Award
Channing Godfrey Peoples, Miss Juneteenth
Radha Blank, The Forty-Year-Old Version
Carlo Mirabella-Davis, Swallow
Andrew Patterson, The Vast of Night
Alex Thompson, Saint Frances
The Forty-Year-Old Version
The Vast of Night
John Magaro, First Cow
Riz Ahmed, Sound of Metal
Chadwick Boseman, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
Jude Law, The Nest
Jesse Plemons, I’m Thinking of Ending Things
Nicole Beharie, Miss Juneteenth
Carrie Coon, The Nest
Jessie Buckley, I’m Thinking of Ending Things
Frances McDormand, Nomadland
Yuh-Jung Youn, Minari
Jasmine Batchelor, The Surrogate
Kelly O’Sullivan, Saint Frances
Kingsley Ben-Adir, One Night in Miami…
Sidney Flanigan, Never Rarely Sometimes Always
Orion Lee, First Cow
You Might Also Like