Fashion

Oscars 2020: the powerful protest hidden in Natalie Portman’s Dior gown

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Hannah-Rose Yee
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The Oscar-winner wore a cape stitched with the names of female directors as a statement against the Academy, which once again did not nominate any women in the directing category.

Only five female directors have been nominated in the history of the Academy Awards.

Just five: Lina Wertmuller, Jane Campion, Sofia Coppola, Kathryn Bigelow and Greta Gerwig. Bigelow, who won the award in 2009 for her film The Hurt Locker, remains the only woman to win Best Director at the Oscars.

That’s not going to change this year. Once again, the Oscars have not nominated any female filmmakers in the Best Director category. The five nominees are all male: Martin Scorsese, Todd Phillips, Sam Mendes, Quentin Tarantino and Bong Joon Ho. 

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Still, some of Hollywood’s biggest names have taken the time to spotlight the work of female filmmakers in 2020. At the Golden Globes, Tom Hanks praised Marielle Heller, whom he just worked with on A Beautiful Day In The Neighborhood. Janelle Monae, who kicked off the Oscars with a barnstorming performance, paused during her opening number to say: “We celebrate all the women who directed phenomenal films”. 

Oscars 2020: Janelle Monae spotlights female directors in her performance.

Elsewhere, on the red carpet, Natalie Portman made sure that female filmmakers were recognised at the Oscars, even if they weren’t nominated at awards. Stitched into the lining of her Dior cape, which Portman wore over her black and gold Dior gown, were the names of female directors whose work inspired her in 2020.

These names included Lorene Scafaria, the director of Hustlers, Lulu Wang of The Farewell, Greta Gerwig, who made Little Women, and Heller. Also embroidered in gold thread were the names of Mati Diop (Atlantics), Melina Matsoukas (Queen & Slim), Alma Har’el (Honey Boy) and Céline Sciamma (Portrait Of A Lady On Fire). 

None of them were nominated for an Oscar in the Best Director category, despite the power and critical acclaim of their respective films.

“I wanted to recognise the women who were not recognised for their incredible work this year in my subtle way,” Portman said on the red carpet.

Don’t forget that it was Portman, back in 2018, who called out the Golden Globes for their lack of female nominees in the director category. While presenting the award with Ron Howard, Portman deadpanned: “And here are the all male nominees”. 

After Portman’s quiet protest the Academy Awards ended up nominating Gerwig for her film Lady Bird. (She was snubbed at the Golden Globes that year). Hopefully at next year’s Oscars it won’t be up to Portman to spotlight the work of female filmmakers. Hopefully, some women are nominated in the Best Director category. Finally.

Images: Getty

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Hannah-Rose Yee

Hannah-Rose Yee is a writer based in London. You can find her on the internet talking about movies, television and Chris Pine.

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