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Why Greta Gerwig is still great (despite the Oscars snub)

Written by
Anna Smith

If you didn’t already love Greta Gerwig as an actor, her debut as a solo director, ‘Lady Bird’, probably sealed the deal. A brilliant coming-of-age film, it scored her a nomination for the Best Director Oscar. Her follow-up, ‘Little Women’, is firm proof that she’s one of the most exciting filmmakers out there. Entertaining and, yes, expertly directed, it mixes a feminist message with comic chops, warmth and at least three all-timer Meryl Streep moments. It captures the thrills and frustrations of being a young woman in the 1860s – and a fair few of those of being a woman in 2020 too.

So when the Academy failed to nominate a single woman in the Best Director category, #GretaGerwig was soon trending on social media. Singer-songwriter Jenny Lewis even posted an in-depth poem on the subject (sample verse: ‘Oscar noms/What the flip?/Where are Adam Sandler/And Greta Gerwig?’). In Entertainment Weekly, ‘Little Women’ star Florence Pugh noted the irony: ‘Greta made a film about women working and their relationship with money and with working in a man’s world.’ The Oscars is still a man’s world, in other words.

On my feminist film podcast ‘Girls on Film’, I’ve championed many women who could have been on the list: Lulu Wang, Marielle Heller, Céline Sciamma, Olivia Wilde – but Gerwig is leading the conversation. The directors’ branch of the Academy selects the nominees, so why didn’t she make the cut with her peers? As Gerwig has said, male violence often dominates popular narratives, and it may be especially hard for female stories to compete in the year of ‘Joker’, ‘The Irishman’ and ‘1917’.

Photograph: 2019 CTMG, Inc.

Our typical mental image of a director is still an older white bloke. Hopefully, one day that unconscious bias will be a thing of the past. All 8,000 or so voting members of the Academy are eligible to select the Best Picture nominees – and ‘Little Women’ has won over enough to get a nomination. Wouldn’t it be great if the Twitterstorm led voters to question their assumptions about what makes a great movie, and give Best Picture to a film written, directed and produced exclusively by women? Which – you guessed it – would be a first. Go, Greta!

Get all the latest news and info about the 2020 Academy Awards on our Oscars hub

The 92nd Academy Awards takes place February 10 at 1am (GMT).

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