Established white men dominate awards season again. Is it a surprise?

Every year, awards season seems more dated than ever, and 2020 is no exception.

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Every year, awards season seems more dated than ever, and 2020 is no exception. The most prestigious awards bodies have opted to recognise established white, male figures at the expense of the diverse list of directors and performers of films like Atlantics, The Farewell, Hustlers, Booksmart, Portrait of a Lady on Fire and more.

The films with the most nominations are Martin Scorsese’s story of ageing hitmen, The Irishman; Quentin Tarantino’s outlandish reimagining of the Manson murders, Once Upon a Time... in Hollywood; Sam Mendes’s war film 1917 (each received nine or ten nominations from both the Oscars and the Baftas); and Todd Phillips’s controversy-courting, blood-spattered Joker (11 noms from both awards bodies).

The Oscars, Baftas and Golden Globes all chose the same all-male nominees for best director: Phillips, Scorsese, Tarantino, Mendes and, refreshingly, Bong Joon-ho for his satirical horror Parasite (making him the first South Korean director to be nominated). Though Little Women earned an armful of nominations across acting, writing and best picture categories, director Greta Gerwig didn’t receive a single directing nomination. This comes despite the fact that in 2018, the Oscars tried to increase the number of women and people of colour on its voting body by inviting nearly 1,000 new members to join the Academy.

This month, Gerwig wrote in Vanity Fair: “I still think we very much have a hierarchy of stories. I think that the top of the hierarchy is male violence… If you look at the books and films and stories that we consider to be ‘important’, that is a common theme.” The “ordinary lives of girls and women” struggle to find the same recognition. Depressingly, these nominations prove her right. 

Anna Leszkiewicz is culture editor of the New Statesman.

This article appears in the 17 January 2020 issue of the New Statesman, Why the left keeps losing