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Golden Globes 2020: Tom Hanks spotlights female directors in year when none were nominated

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Hannah-Rose Yee
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The actor, who was given the honorary Cecil B DeMille award, made sure that women filmmakers were represented at the awards ceremony.

When it comes to recognising female directors, the Golden Globes doesn’t have the best track record.

In 70 years, the Golden Globes have nominated less than 10 women in the category of Best Director. Only one woman has ever won: Barbra Streisand, who took home the award in 1984 for her movie Yentl.

Those statistics did not change in 2020, a year when no female filmmakers were nominated in either the category of director or writing. This in a year when women including Lulu Wang (The Farewell), Lorene Scafaria (Hustlers), Greta Gerwig (Little Women), Marielle Heller (A Beautiful Day In The Neighborhood) and more made searing and honest work in the medium of film.

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The omission was the subject of much roasting at the 2020 ceremony. Host Ricky Gervais attempted to joke about situation, but his words fell flat.

Golden Globes 2020: Greta Gerwig attended, though she was not nominated in the category of Best Director.

“A lot of controversy over our next category: No female directors were nominated this year. That’s bad,” Gervais said. “I’ve had a word with the Hollywood Foreign Press Association and they have guaranteed this will never happen again. Working with all the major studios, [the HFPA has] agreed to go back to the way things were when they didn’t hire women directors. That will solve the problem. You’re welcome.”

Gervais’ joke did not go over well with the Golden Globes audience, but the words of another star did. Tom Hanks, on stage at the ceremony to accept the honorary Cecil B DeMille award, made sure to spotlight the work of female filmmakers in his speech. It was a subtle nod but nonetheless there, a chance for the actor to make sure that women director received their due on a night when not a single one of them was nominated

During his speech, Hanks went about naming some of his collaborators, thanking them for transforming his career. He began by praising female directors and “screenwriters I’ve worked with,” Hanks said, like “Nora [Ephron] and Penny [Marshall], Mari [Heller] of late”. 

Tom Hanks with director Marielle Heller.

After that, Hanks named Stephen Spielberg and Ron Howard, but they came almost as an afterthought. For Hanks, who has made iconic movies with female directors, including Sleepless In Seattle, A League Of Their Own and 2020’s A Beautiful Day In The Neighborhood, it was the women who came first.

The actor has always supported women in film. In fact, Hanks became involved in A Beautiful Day In The Neighborhood, a movie in which he plays celebrated American children’s entertainer Fred Rogers, after reading an article about female directors in The New York Times

He reached out to Heller, who was on that list for her work directing Bel Powley in the coming of age movie Diary Of A Teenage Girl, and the rest is history. Hanks’ performance as Rogers will go down as one of the best of his career, and he is all but confirmed to pick up an Oscar nomination later this month. 

When he wasn’t spotlighting female directors in his Golden Globes speech for the Cecil B DeMille award, which recognises the inimitable career of a member of the entertainment industry, Hanks was visibly emotional. The actor blamed it on the fact that he was recovering from a cold, but Hanks was frequently moved to tears.

“A man is blessed,” Hanks said, blinking back tears, at one point in his speech, “with a family who is sitting down the front like that. A wife who has taught me what love is, five kids who are braver and stronger than their old man is…. I can’t tell you what your love means to me.” 

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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