The Golden Globes Best Director nominations, announced Monday, are nothing if not boring and predictable choices that fail to recognize women. While Guillermo Del Toro’s The Shape of Water has garnered solid reviews and is a fantasy piece that celebrates otherness, the others are more predictable. A few of Hollywood’s favorite men are nominated: Steven Spielberg picked up a nomination for The Post, Christopher Nolan for Dunkirk, and Ridley Scott for All the Money in the World (which was reshot with Christopher Plummer so recently it’s hard to believe many critics have seen it) while Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri‘s Martin McDonagh appears to be the dark horse of the nominees for directing a film about a woman seeking justice/revenge for her daughter’s rape and murder.
But if the Globes wanted to reward a woman’s story or even a story interpreted through the eyes of a woman, there were plenty of female directors the Hollywood Foreign Press could have recognized. But in the year of the #MeToo movement, when Greta Gerwig’s Lady Bird nabbed the highest Rotten Tomatoes score of all time and Wonder Woman captivated critics and audiences for an entire summer moviegoing season, the Globes directing nominations are sadly and stupidly shortsighted.
In a year that was loaded with excellent films from women, including documentaries like Agnes Varda’s Faces Places, Catherine Gund and Dareshi Kyi’s Chavela, and Sabaah Folayan’s Whose Streets? as well asforeign films like Petra Volpe’s The Divine Order and small films like Maggie Betts’s Novitiate, we compiled a list of women directors who could/should have been on the collective radar of Globes voters but who were ignored in a category that is disappointingly trite and male.
Angela Robinson for Professor Marston and the Wonder Women
Out director Angela Robinson (D.E.B.S.) and a powerhouse producing team that includes Jill Soloway and Andrea Sperling retell the story of the professor who created the Wonder Woman comics and the women who loved him and each other. The period piece stars Luke Evans as Professor James Marston, Rebecca Hall as his wife, Elizabeth Marston (an attorney and psychologist), and Bella Heathcote as Olive Byrne, the student they love. The film intertwines the rise of their polyamorous relationship with the creation of Wonder Woman, which was loaded with bondage and kink it its nascent stage. Connie Britton and Oliver Platt costar in this thoughtful film.
Sofia Coppola for The Beguiled
All of Sofia Coppola’s auteur markers were on display in the eerie female-centric reboot of a 1971 Clint Eastwood vehicle that was helmed by Don Siegel. Colin Farrell plays a wounded Irish-American soldier adrift in the South during the Civil War until Nicole Kidman’s Martha, the head of a school for girls, offers him shelter. Psychosexual games and torture ensue in the deliciously twisted flick that costars Kirsten Dunst, Elle Fanning, Angourie Rice, and Oona Laurence. While the film, in and of itself, is a shrewdly helmed, delicious slice of revenge fantasy, Coppola was rightly, roundly censured for her decision to write out a slave character who appeared in the book and original film.
Kathryn Bigelow for Detroit
The only woman to ever win a best directing Oscar (for The Hurt Locker) out of just a few who’ve been nominated throughout history, Kathryn Bigelow, who also directed Zero Dark Thirty, excavated the true events around police brutality that resulted in the deaths of three black men in 1967 in Detroit. The film, the message of which was that history repeats itself and that society should learn from it, was not exactly a critical darling, but Bigelow is as capable a director as any, and she could certainly give someone like Martin McDonagh, nominated for Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri, a run for his money.
Valerie Faris and Jonathan Dayton for Battle of the Sexes
Beyond trouncing proud male chauvinist Bobby Riggs in the legendary 1973 Battle of the Sexes tennis match, Billie Jean King was a proponent for equal pay early in the game. The crowd-pleasing film from Valerie Faris and Jonathan Dayton, the directing team behind Little Miss Sunshine, recounts the story of how that famous battle came to pass at the same time it tracks King’s love affair with hairstylist Marilyn Barnett. And it does it with a whole lot of heart and the hope that is indicative of King’s brand of do-something-about-it feminism. Emma Stone (who is nominated for a Globe) stars as King, while Steve Carell (also nominated) plays Riggs and Andrea Riseborough portrays Barnett. Sarah Silverman, Alan Cumming, Elisabeth Shue, and Natalie Morales costar.
Dee Rees for Mudbound
Pariah and Bessie director Dee Rees should be Oscar bound with this epic, important look at the lives of black sharecroppers and white landowners in the Mississippi Delta following World War II, but the Golden Globes failed to recognize her. However, Mary J. Blige earned two nods, one for her breakout role as Florence Jackson in the film, and one for “Mighty River,” the song she wrote for the movie. Rob Morgan, Jason Mitchell, Carey Mulligan, Garrett Hedlund, and Jason Clarke round out the cast of this modern masterpiece.
Patty Jenkins for Wonder Woman
A critical favorite and a blockbuster smash, Wonder Woman is so deeply of the moment, shattering the myth that women can’t direct big action or superhero flicks. Wonder Woman is not only the first film starring a female superhero in more than a decade; it’s the first-ever superhero film directed by a woman, Patty Jenkins, who directed Charlize Theron to Oscar (really, all of the acting awards that year) glory in Monster. Gal Gadot donned Wonder Woman’s bracelets and lasso of submission to lead a cast that includes Robin Wright, Connie Nielsen, and Lisa Loven Kongsli (Force Majeure) as the women who advise young Diana on existing in the world of men in this origin story that inspired little girls and boys around the world to aspire to be like Wonder Woman. Action films are rarely nominated for Best Picture awards, but if cultural significance in a really well-directed package won prizes, then Wonder Woman should be the recipient.
Greta Gerwig for Lady Bird
Actress Greta Gerwig’s first feature as a writer-director stars Saoirse Ronan as a sardonic, recalcitrant Northern California teen navigating family, love, sex, and college applications and is universally critically acclaimed, earning it the highest Rotten Tomatoes score of all time. A pristinely executed bildungsroman, Lady Bird bears the markers of films that have come before it but with surprises, twists, and subtlety. The film costars Laurie Metcalf, Tracy Letts, Timothée Chalamet, and Lucas Hedges. Gerwig was nominated for a Golden Globe for her screenplay, but snubbing her for best director is a particularly out-of-touch move on the part of the Hollywood Foreign Press.