Not a single woman director was nominated in the Best Director category at this year's Oscars. That's a damn shame.
The 92nd Academy Awards was a huge step forward in paying homage to minority voices. Whether it was finally recognizing the talent powerhouse that is Parasite's Korean director Bong Joon-ho or awarding one of the first indigenous New Zealanders, Taika Waititi, his first-ever Oscar, the awards evening was a reminder of the importance and magic of inclusion. However, there was one group that missed out at the 2020 Oscars: women. Of course, they were recognized under the Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress categories, but what about the directors? In a subtle but powerful move, actress Natalie Portman decided to remember them as she walked down the red carpet at the Oscars, Vox reports.
natalie portman w/ the embroidered names of all the female directors snubbed on her coat. my heart. pic.twitter.com/mEEkQgbvOL— alex (@alex_abads) February 10, 2020
The V for Vendetta star did so by donning a beautiful black and gold ensemble to the event. Don't worry, this isn't an article about who she was wearing on the red carpet (technically). While it's easy to get lost in all the shimmer and dazzle of her gorgeous gown, some of you may have missed a tiny but crucial detail: the embroidery on her coat. In gold needlepoint, several names were embroidered alongside the left side of her coat. This, of course, caught the attention of reporters standing by on the red carpet. When asked whose names they were, Portman responded, "I wanted to recognize the women who were not recognized for their incredible work this year in a subtle way." This is a perfect example of a woman using her privilege and platform for good.
The women directors whose names were embroidered on her coat included Lorene Scafaria (Hustlers), Lulu Wang (The Farewell), Greta Gerwig (Little Women), Mati Diop (Atlantics), Marielle Heller (A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood), Melina Matsoukas (Queen & Slim), Alma Har’el (Honey Boy), and Céline Sciamma (Portrait of a Lady on Fire). All these women, despite dropping some of the most moving cinematic masterpieces in 2019, were completely ignored by the Academy. In their place, the Academy nominated Martin Scorsese (The Irishman), Todd Phillips (Joker), Sam Mendes (1917), Quentin Tarantino (Once Upon a Time... in Hollywood), and Bong Joon-ho, who ultimately won for Parasite.
Portman's clever nod to the women who drive Hollywood forward wasn't a way to discredit the nominees' work. Instead, she simply called for diversity and inclusivity. This is not the first time the actress has pushed for better inclusion at a major awards evening. At the 2018 Golden Globes, she introduced the Best Director category alongside Ron Howard. In an attempt to bring light to the gender imbalance, she stated before presenting the nominees of the night, "And now, here are the all-male nominees." Needless to say, no one saw that zinger coming. Nonetheless, her understated yet effective form of dissent is crucial when it comes to representation and fair opportunity. Let's hope her small gesture makes way for even bigger strides.