Who are the Oscar nominees for 2015?

2015 Oscar Nominations: A Dark Day for Women in Hollywood

No Girls AllowedI couldn't sleep at all last night because I knew in the pit of my stomach exactly what was going to happen this morning. Based on the wind and on the hatchet job against Selma, I knew that Ava Duvernay was not going to be nominated for Best Director for her work on that magnificent film.

I know that she is proud of her Best Picture nomination, and I know that she is proud of the Best Song nomination and in the work that everyone did on her film. As well she should be. But as a long-time observer of the Oscars - and the difficulty for women to break through - the fact that DuVernay did not get nominated is devastating.

Remember way back in the fall, when people (by which I mean Oscar pundits who talk about movies that were seen by a tiny group of people or not at all) were talking about Angelina Jolie as a Best Director candidate and Unbroken as a frontrunner for Best Picture? But once that movie came out, it faded from the Best Picture and Best Director race quickly. It just didn't have the prestige points to get to the finish line. Frankly, I don't think anyone at Universal cares, because it is doing fantastically at the box office.

But Selma had the reverse path. It is a small, indie movie financed overseas with a (then) unknown African-American female director. And when that movie was shown at AFI (unfinished), it exploded. (Let's also remember that American Sniper, which got 6 nominations today, also screened at AFI - to a muted response.)

Selma is a stunner in a lot of ways, but especially because it parallels what is going on in this country. It speaks to us and what we are seeing in our streets and in our courts. People are being disenfranchised all across the country based on their race and class. This movie is about now. You used to be able to watch movies because they gave us commentary on our culture and on our world. They spoke about where we were, where we hope to be, and how we can be better. I'm thinking of films like The Accused, Kramer vs. Kramer, The China Syndrome, and Network.

Selma is that powerful. And yet, its director was overlooked. This snub feels like a kick in the teeth to women directors everywhere. She ticked all the boxes. Made a movie about a historical figure whom people know. Made a movie about a man. Great reviews. Great lead performance. I don't know what else Ava DuVernay could have done. It is soooo hard to play in the Oscar game. There have only ever been four women who managed a Best Director nomination - and only one has won. Movies that women direct don't usually get the studio financial support of millions of dollars to compete in the Oscar race. Selma did. It played hard. But the LBJ partisans played harder and clearly, they won. They knocked down a movie of towering significance, and quite frankly it makes the Academy members look like idiots.

The Academy did itself a huge disservice today by not nominating DuVernay. She has made three terrific movies. And yes, her first two movies were about women, so the guys of the directing branch probably did not see them. Today, the 388 members of the directing branch proved that they are a bunch of insular, petty, out-of-touch people, and in more ways than one. The 2015 ceremony will also be the whitest Oscars since 1998.

It's not that anyone is asking for special favors here. DuVernay made a movie worthy of a nomination. But still, she was shut out.

And let's remember that it is not only DuVernay who was shut out. Women were shut out across the board. Gillian Flynn was shut out for her adaptation of her book Gone Girl. Not a single woman writer was nominated out of 10 adapted and original screenplay slots. Not a single woman composer was nominated. Not a single female cinematographer was nominated.

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