The 77th Annual Golden Globes, hosted by the irreverent, anti-celebrity Ricky Gervais, celebrated a year of film and television, a year which saw significant contributions by women filmmakers that were overlooked by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, the voting body for the awards. Films directed by women that were acclaimed by critics and audiences alike included Little Women, The Farewell, Honey Boy, Harriet, A Beautiful Day In The Neighborhood, Hustlers, Booksmart, and Queen and Slim. The films nominated for top awards this year were not only all directed by men, but they were mostly all about men as well.
As the host noted, no women were nominated in the directing category, screenplay category or in either of the Best Picture categories (Drama and Musical/Comedy). Noting that “that’s bad,” Gervais went on to attempt a joke about the situation, which flopped in the room and was roasted on social media. In the 77 year history of the Golden Globes, a woman director has only been nominated seven times. The last woman director nominated was Ava Duvernay for Selma, and that was more than five years ago. It’s been more than 35 years since the only woman director won a Golden Globe—Barbra Streisand for Yentl.
The night did include many firsts and important moments for representation in media that should be celebrated. The evenings’ first award went to Ramy Yousef for best television actor in a comedy or musical for his self-titled Hulu show Ramy. On stage, the actor, the first Egyptian American to win in the category, said “Thank you so much. I would like to thank my god, Allahu akbar.” For many Muslim fans, hearing “God is the Greatest” on stage at the Golden Globes made “a world of difference.”
When Kate McKinnon delivered an emotional and powerful tribute to her comedic idol Elle DeGeneres, who received the Carol Burnett Award, she received a standing ovation from the likes of Beyonce and Jay-Z for illustrating how important it is to see yourself represented in media. McKinnon spoke about how DeGeneres’ coming out as gay while hosting a national comedy television show made it possible for her to pursue a career in comedy as a queer woman, saying: “If I hadn’t seen her on TV, I would have thought ‘I could never be on TV. They don’t let LGBTQ people be on TV.’ And more than that, I would have gone on thinking that I was an alien and that I maybe didn’t have a right to be here.” And Awkwafina made Golden Globes history, becoming the first Asian American actress to win for Best Actress in a Comedy or Musical for her performance in The Farewell.
The Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA) has fewer than 90 voting members, all of whom must publish at least four entertainment articles per year for their foreign publications. By contrast, the Academy of Motion Pictures and Sciences (Oscar voters) has approximately ten times that number of voters, and Oscar voters are comprised of industry professionals. While the Academy has taken measures to diversify their voting membership, the directors’ branch is disproportionately made up of older, white men, which may explain why women are having such a hard time breaking through Hollywood’s glass ceiling for film directors. What will this mean for Oscar nominations which will be announced on Monday, January 13th ahead of the earliest ever Oscars which take place on February 9? We hope to see at least one of the women-directed films included among the nominees for the top film awards.
Take Action! Continue to support women filmmakers and filmmakers of color and their important voices—go see their movies on opening weekend and vote for their success with your wallet!