Why didn’t Barbie’s director and lead actress Kenough get an Oscar nomination?


“Did this movie happen on its own?”

When a film directed by a woman that received rave reviews and box office success was nominated in several categories at the Academy Awards – including Best Picture, but not Best Director – that was the question that made people vibrate.

But it wasn’t Barbie, and the director was not Greta Gerwig. It was 1992, when Barbra Streisand snubbed the director for The prince of the tides was considered so controversial that Billy Crystal exposed him in his opening song at the 64th Annual Academy Awards, singing “Seven nominations waiting/Did this movie happen on its own?”

WATCH | Billy Crystal criticizes Barbra Streisand’s Oscar snub:

More than 30 years later, many people are asking the same question after the Gerwig affair. barbieundisputed box office leader for 2023, received eight nominations on Tuesday but was ignored for best director, as well as best leading actress for Barbie herself (Margot Robbie). The fact that Ryan Gosling was nominated for Best Supporting Actor for the role of Ken rubbed salt in the wound for fans of the patriarchy-skewering film.

Memes and reactions quickly made their way around the internet, with many of them crying foul for being a little too indiscreet. Former presidential candidate Hillary Clinton even weighed in on Wednesday.

“Greta and Margot, although it may hurt to win the box office without winning gold, your millions of fans love you. You are so much more than Kenough,” Clinton wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter.

Gosling released a statement expressing disappointment that Gerwig and Robbie were not nominated in their respective categories, noting “there is no Ken without Barbie, and there is no Barbie movie without Greta Gerwig and Margot Robbie, the two people most responsible for this story on a global scale.” famous film.”

Like the reactions and reactions to reactionscontinue to flood online, some wonder: if barbie I couldn’t break the patriarchy, what can?

“A woman can do everything right, but the patriarchy will find something wrong,” one person wrote in a newspaper. TikTok video reacting to the snub which has racked up more than 2.4 million views.

“They lost the whole plot,” another person wrote in a video with 1.1 million likes.

A scene from the movie Barbie, LR Simu Liu, Margot Robbie and Ryan Gosling
Margot Robbie, center, Ryan Gosling, right, and Simu Liu, left, in a scene from Barbie. Gosling was nominated for Best Supporting Actor, but Robbie was not nominated for his performance in the lead role. (Warner Bros.)

Not serious enough?

Since the Academy Awards were established in 1929, only three women have won the Best Director award: Kathryn Bigelow for The Hurt Locker in 2009, Chloé Zhao for Nomadic country in 2020, and Jane Campion for The power of the dog in 2021.

And even though this year’s nominations include a female director — Justine Triet for Anatomy of a fall – she is one of only eight to ever be nominated. Among this short list of female nominees is Gerwig – again, not for Barbie, but for Lady Bird in 2018.

The difference with barbiesaid Lisa Coulthard, a professor of film and media studies in the department of theater and film at the University of British Columbia, could be the same problem that Barbie herself encounters in the film: it is not seen as “serious” enough.

“Commercial success does not necessarily translate into Oscar nominations and barbie “It’s the kind of film that’s often snubbed because it’s not serious enough for the Oscars,” Coulthard told CBC News.

“But the way ‘serious’ is determined is highly gendered and this, I think, is a major example of that.”

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Coulthard emphasizes Poor things For example. The film about a young woman brought back to life by an unorthodox scientist received 11 nominations, including Best Picture, Best Actress (Emma Stone) and Best Director (Yorgos Lanthimos).

Poor things And barbie are the same movie in some ways – a female automaton comes to consciousness and recognizes the patriarchy for what it is. So it’s not that Barbie isn’t serious when you look at it that way,” she said.

As rolling stone In other words, Barbie was perhaps “too feminine to be considered a serious film.”

Old Boys Network

In 1992, when Streisand was snubbed for The Prince of the Tides, Harriet Silverman, executive director of the advocacy group Women in Film, told the Los Angeles Times “The old boys network is alive and well in Hollywood.”

“Here, people are praising (Oscar-nominated lead actor) Nick Nolte’s work, but he didn’t direct it himself. How can they rave about his star and not credit him?”

Thirty-two years later, the advocacy group posted on Instagram that it had “no words,” while sharing several articles about Gerwig and Robbie’s snubs. On Women in cinema wrote “Despite today’s Oscar snubs, don’t forget to congratulate the women who are still making history.”

Wide shot of a woman standing on top of a building overlooking a vast pink city.
The Barbie movie became a cultural phenomenon last summer, but a film and media researcher told CBC News it may not have been considered “serious” enough for the Oscars. (Warner Bros.)

But is there still an old boys’ network? Many supported him. The Oscar for directing is chosen by the directors’ branch of the academy which, like the New York Times points out that it’s about 75 percent male, an “intellectual” group “most likely to reject mainstream studio fare.”

In 2020, a year when no female director was among the nominations, Time wrote that “diversity may be increasing in the Academy as a whole, but the director branch has not necessarily achieved parity.”

And a new report from San Diego State University called The celluloid ceilingwhich has tracked women’s employment in film for 26 years, notes that women made up just 14 percent of female directors working on the top 100 highest-grossing films in 2023, and just 16 percent of the top 250.

“While Greta Gerwig barbie reigned supreme as the number one film at the box office, women remained dramatically underrepresented among female directors,” the report said.

“Greta Gerwig’s well-deserved triumph belies the gender inequality that prevails in the mainstream film industry.”

This inequality is perhaps why so many fans and critics are not only baffled by Gerwig’s exclusion for Best Director, but also by Gosling’s nomination for Best Supporting Actor.

“Ken is nominated and Barbie is not, that’s literally what the movie is about,” Coulthard told CBC News.

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