March 8 is International Women’s Day, so I think it’s worth reflecting on the conclusion to this awards season. At the 2018 Oscars “Lady Bird” got left in the cold like a high school senior without a date for prom. The academy went to great lengths in celebrating women this year. They showcased the #MeToo movement and presenters raised gender equality issues. However, the voters failed to award this groundbreaking accomplishment in women’s filmmaking, suggesting there is still room for Hollywood to grow.
The film was written and directed by Greta Gerwig and its nomination haul was impressive for such a female-driven film. It’s only the second film directed and written by a woman to score Oscar nominations for Picture, Director, Screenplay, Actress and Supporting Actress.
The other time was in 1993 when “The Piano” earned bids for writer/director Jane Campion as well as actors Holly Hunter and Anna Paquin. Twenty-five years is far too long between these innings. It was encouraging to see the academy embrace such a female driven project after all these years. They clearly wanted to see this film recognized as one of the best of the year. And I believe it’s a sign that the academy will be looking to embrace more female talent in categories where they have previously been underrepresented.
“Lady Bird” tells an intimate story of a girl (Saoirse Ronan) navigating through her senior year of high school in Sacramento. She explores romantic relationships and struggles to understand her mother (Laurie Metcalf). Gerwig blends humor with a deft use of heart to paint a portrait of an identifiable yet unique female character. Both actresses were nominated, though they lost to Frances McDormand (“Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”) and Allison Janney (“I, Tonya”).
“The Piano” won three Oscars: Screenplay for Campion, Actress for Hunter and Supporting Actress for Paquin. “Lady Bird” won none. I do think the winners in all of the film’s categories were more than deserving. However, “Lady Bird” going home empty handed was my biggest disappointment of the Oscars this year. And it will go down in history, that, on the night when the consciousness of Hollywood was on women and McDormand asked all female nominees to stand; Kobe Bryant won an Oscar and Greta Gerwig won none.