Once Again, the Director’s Guild Nominates All White Men

If it wasn’t so offensive, it really would be funny. In fact, if you want a laugh, you really must check out The Guardian‘s article on the nominees, in which a picture appears (at the top) that you have to see to believe.
The Director’s Guild of America (DGA) released their nominees for Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Feature Film for 2011 yesterday, which often predicts the Academy Award nominees for Best Director (and certainly influences Best Picture noms). 
It’s difficult this time of year to keep up with all the nominations and awards, and there are certainly arguments to be made that negate their importance (we’ve made them before). However, when there is such a disconnect between the people being lauded as Artists and Masters of Film and the cultural, racial, and ethnic makeup of our society, well, my friends, we have a serious problem.
I’m not making any arguments here about the quality of the films for which these men are nominated. There may be arguments to be made about some/all being excellent. There might not be. What I’m talking about is that it is, yet again, “these men” we’re discussing. 
In the four years since we started this website, there has been a significant rise in the number of people and sites dedicated to women in film in particular, and the lack of diversity in film generally. However, year after year, we see little or no change, and we continue to make the same arguments, to ask the same questions.

  • There are women who make excellent films. Why aren’t they being recognized?
  • Why can’t Hollywood see that diversity–in storytelling, in actors, in filmmakers–is a good thing?
  • Why is it the same faces we see, year after year, being rewarded?


Here are the nominees:
Woody Allen for Midnight in Paris

David Fincher for The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

Michel Hazanavicious for The Artist 

Alexander Payne for The Descendants

Martin Scorsese for Hugo
Readers, what are your thoughts on this year’s nominees?
  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/08685707813625269747 Daniel Silberberg

    Which female/POC directors who released films in 2011 should have been nominated? I’m not trying to be facetious, I’m just wondering.

    The only ones I’ve heard of were Lynne Ramsay’s We Need to Talk About Kevin and Steve McQueen’s Shame.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/01949942528797364654 kookaburra

    Allen is nominated for a laughably bad film. So many other works deserve recognition.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/12070680960061669328 Mr. Anderson

    Excuse me? “Midnight in Paris” was a wonderful, sweet and smart film. What part of that could you possibly think was “laughably bad”? Getting over that, what would you have nominated in its place?

    I also agree with David. It’s difficult to disagree with the nominations when all five titles were at least good, if not great films. I’ve yet to see “We Need to Talk about Kevin” so I can’t comment as to its qualifications, but I have seen all the nominated films and they’re all strong titles, each in their own way. I’d love to see more female directors get the attention they deserve, but ONLY if they actually deserve it.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/08685707813625269747 Daniel Silberberg

    @kookaburra: Like what?

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/11648444709418671828 Molly McCaffrey

    There are four problems at play here:

    1) Most movies are made by white men, so we need more movies by woman and minorities.

    2) The movies that were made by woman AND considered outstanding (The Iron Lady, We Need to Talk about Kevin, Meek’s Cutoff) were ignored in the directing/best picture award categories even though they are objectively much better than some films that were nominated for those awards.

    3) It’s also a problem that most of the movies made by women did not receive wide distribution, so most people haven’t seen them.

    4) Anointed directors (like Allen and Scorsese and Spielberg) are rewarded when they make anything at all that isn’t totally awful, which is the case with Midnight in Paris, Hugo, and War Horse, all of which were no better than good. This is certainly not a problem that is limited to film either. It’s also true of literature.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/15174267649242844772 Carrie

    I have to respectfully disagree with the assertion that Woody Allen and Martin Scorsese are rewarded for “anything at all that isn’t totally awful.” Both of them have only won Best Director Oscars and DGA Awards once, and both of them (in my opinion, at least) have impressive filmographies. (And it’s bogus that Scorsese won his awards for The Departed and not for, say, Taxi Driver or The Last Temptation of Christ or Goodfellas.) Does that mean that they are more deserving than filmmakers of color or female filmmakers? Of course not. But it’s true that, for all of the great films that they’ve made, these two filmmakers actually haven’t received many accolades.

    That said, as a whole, the DGA nominees this year are pretty uninspired. The woman who I wish was receiving more attention this year is Dee Rees, the director and writer of Pariah. Her film is absolutely as good (or better) than those nominated for DGA awards. I haven’t seen We Need to Talk About Kevin yet, but from what I’ve heard about it, it’s a shame that Lynne Ramsay isn’t getting more attention, either. I also wish there could have been room for Sean Durkin (for Martha Marcy May Marlene), Jeff Nichols (for Take Shelter) and David Cronenberg (for A Dangerous Method) — men whose films had some great roles for women.