Sasha Stone‘s “Oscar Primer — Why No Women Were Nominated for Best Director“, posted on 1.16, is essential reading. It does an excellent job of analyzing the whole notion of “Greta Gerwig and Little Women were screwed over by industry sexism, as evidenced by a lack of a Best Director Oscar nom.” And it points a finger at Gerwig’s water-carriers — i.e., wokester critics.
The piece is brilliant and definitive from start to finish, but here’s my favorite portion:
“Many critics did everyone a disservice by not being completely honest about Little Women. By and large, they went overboard for it, giving it a 95% score on Rotten Tomatoes with only a few brave voices of dissent endeavoring to describe what the film is and isn’t.
“Yes, it’s beautiful, lush, alive, and funny in places. But for many [Little Women] is also a structural disaster. Unless a viewer is familiar with the story, the rearranged timeline often causes confusion, and many will have trouble keeping their bearings. Even for those of us who accepted the task of putting the puzzle together, we had to wonder what purpose it served.
“You heard no qualms about this from major film critics because they were swept up in the idea that ‘Gerwig was back’ and no one wanted to dampen that enthusiasm. When critics addressed it at all, they would explain away the approach with a variety of rationales that fail to convince a lot of us, That said, congratulations to all the fans of Little Women who had fun solving the Rubik’s Cube. Now solve the mystery of why you’re so furious at anyone who wishes the plotline had been more straightforward.
“Those who love the film aren’t bothered by the ornate structural affectation. They love it anyway. Obviously, at least 350 Oscar voters loved it too. But the very real issue is clearly not something that a large number of voters were willing to overlook when they weighed a convoluted film on the one hand against 10 or 12 other other films that flowed seamlessly across the screen with such propulsive narrative thrust.
“In fact, it’s hard not to suspect that the reason a lot of voters named Little Women on their ballots was because they felt it was their duty, because Gerwig is a woman. Would a Best Director nomination bestowed on those terms even be fair to Gerwig? Nope.
“All of the other films whose creators made it into the Best Director race have won other major awards:
1917 — the Golden Globe for Best Picture (Drama);
Once Upon a Time in Hollywood — the Golden Globe for Best Picture (Drama);
The Irishman — The National Board of Review and the New York Film Critics
Joker — the Venice Golden Lion;
Parasite — the Palme d’Or, the Golden Globe for Foreign Language Film, the Los Angeles Film Critics Association, and the National Society of Film Critics.
“Little Women didn’t win a single major award until the story about sexism began churning. At that point, the Boston Film Critics finally spit out a Best Picture prize for the movie and the National Society rallied to give Gerwig a Best Director spot.
“By now, you might be wondering: Of all the movies directed by women year, why is Little Women the one to be anointed by a fanbase that we will graciously describe as ‘avid.’ Why this director? Has Gerwig truly accomplished such a superlative ‘directorial achievement’ that she totally eclipses Sciama and Matsoukas? Why, of all of the films in the race, did the critics rally around this one?
“I think there are two factors. The first is Gerwig herself is charismatic and lovable, and well-known since she infused Lady Bird with details of her own youth, as she has done in other movies she’s starred in like Frances Ha. Her persona was well-established and that easily transferred to her image as a female writer-director, of which there are far too few.
“The second is that after so many talented women got neglected by the Oscars last year, it became clear that the critics had divided their acclaim and, thus, none of the women could build a consensus. This year critics figured if they put all of their chips behind Gerwig, she had a shot. But again, the movie is the movie and that will only take you so far.”