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Critics’ Choice Awards 2019: how the awards show sparked controversy

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Kayleigh Dray
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Nicole Kidman and Charlize Theron at the 2019 Critics Choice Awards

People are extremely unhappy about this oversight, and for good reason.

Awards season is well underway, but the nominations list for the 2019 Critics’ Choice Awards has raised more than a few eyebrows.

Why? Well, check out the nominations for this year’s Best Director category and see for yourself:

  • Damien Chazelle, First Man
  • Bradley Cooper, A Star Is Born
  • Alfonso Cuarón, ROMA
  • Peter Farrelly, Green Book
  • Yorgos Lanthimos, The Favourite
  • Spike Lee, BlacKkKlansman
  • Adam McKay, Vice

All fine films, all very talented directors, as we’re sure you’ll agree - and there’s no denying that Cuarón is a deserving winner. However, there is also no denying that he and his fellow nominees all have one glaring thing in common.

They’re all men.

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That’s right: echoing the Golden Globes (and awards seasons almost every year since forever), the 2019 Critics’ Choice Awards only recognised men in the second most prestigious category.

It’s not as if there’s a shortage of female talent on offer. Indeed, 2018 brought us brilliant movies from the likes of Debra Granik, Tamara Jenkins, and Lynne Ramsay - all of whom, it’s worth noting, recently earned Best Director nods from the Indie Spirit Awards.

Meanwhile, Melissa McCarthy has received a BAFTA nod for her turn in Marielle Heller’s Can You Ever Forgive Me? and Nicole Kidman was recognised in the Globe nominations for her role in Karyn Kusama’s Destroyer. Despite these glowing accolades, though, the directors remain largely invisible… so what gives?

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Well, it seems as if this “no penis, no award” rule has been in place at the Critics Choice Awards for some time now. Indeed, while Greta Gerwig was nominated for Lady Bird, the 2017 winner in this category was Guillermo Del Toro. Which means that the only female Critics’ Choice Award winner for Best Director since 1995 was Kathryn Bigelow, for The Hurt Locker

Something, obviously, needs to change. And, while the bulk of the work needs to be done by those within the Hollywood circuit, we can all still play a part in making sure women’s voices do not go unheard. Just as Natalie Portman did at last year’s Globes when she pointedly noted the “all-male nominees” in the directing category, we need to call out this inequality. Because, while it may not seem like a big deal, this lack of inclusion undercuts women’s visibility as directors and, ultimately, short-changes their careers. 

In the meantime, check out our must-see list of female directors and make a point of supporting their work in cinemas wherever you can. Because, to quote activist Anna Bulbrook, “if you’re all doing something together, you have a lot more momentum.”

Image: Getty

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Kayleigh Dray

Kayleigh Dray is editor of Stylist.co.uk, where she chases after rogue apostrophes and specialises in films, comic books, feminism and television. On a weekend, you can usually find her drinking copious amounts of tea and playing boardgames with her friends. 

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