OSCAR 2023: Best director indications are all men

The Academy Awards nominations for Best Director have been announced and all of the nominees are men, prompting criticism from Hollywood advocacy organizations and calls for greater representation of women filmmakers. The list includes Martin McDonagh, Steven Spielberg, Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert, Todd Field, and Ruben Ostlund. In the entire history of the Academy Awards, only seven women have been nominated for Best Director, with just three of them winning.


The lack of female representation in the best director category at the Academy Awards continues, with all the nominees being male. This is reminiscent of Natalie Portman’s famous jab at the Golden Globes in 2018 when she announced the all-male nominees in the same category. The 2023 nominees include Martin McDonagh, Steven Spielberg, Daniel Kwan, Daniel Scheinert, Todd Field, and Ruben Ostlund.


In recent years, women directors have been gaining more recognition in the Oscars. In 2021, Chloe Zhao became the second woman and the first woman of color to win Best Director for her film “Nomadland.” Jane Campion followed in 2022, winning for her film “The Power of the Dog.” However, there has been criticism about the lack of women representation in the Best Director category overall, with only seven women nominated in the history of the Academy Awards and only three of them winning the award.

This year’s Academy Award for Best Director features an all-male shortlist, which has drawn backlash from critics who have pointed out the snubbing of talented women directors. Women in Film, a Hollywood advocacy organization, criticized the Academy voters for not recognizing the works of female directors, who are often underrepresented in the film industry. The organization listed several deserving women directors, including Sarah Polley, Gina Prince-Bythewood, Maria Schrader, Chinonye Chukwu, and Charlotte Wells. Only seven women have ever been nominated for Best Director, with only three winning the award in the entire history of the Academy Awards.

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DW’s data analysis team investigated the characteristics of filmmakers who have won the directing Oscar throughout the award’s history following the backlash over the lack of female representation in this year’s shortlist. The team found that 75% of winners are American, 97% are male, and over a quarter of nominated directors have won the award more than once. Additionally, 96% of the winning films are dramas. To address the lack of diversity, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences created the Gold Fellowship, a program for women filmmakers. However, UCLA sociology professor Gabriel Rossman remains critical of the Academy’s efforts, noting that the Oscars are increasingly becoming something “captured by insiders” and losing their mass audience.


DW’s data analysis team utilized the Academy’s official database and found that the nominations for the best director were disproportionately awarded to a small group of filmmakers. One-fifth of all directors in the nominees’ club received the nod at least three times, accumulating half of all the nominations. William Wyler, who directed “Ben-Hur” in 1960, received the most nominations ever with 12 nods, followed by Martin Scorsese and Billy Wilder with eight nominations each. Many other directors, such as Steven Spielberg, received seven nominations. This creates a chicken and egg situation as to why some directors receive more nominations than others, which researchers at Albert Ludwigs University in Freiburg have found to have a significant impact on a film’s success at the box office. Gabriel Rossman, a sociology professor at UCLA, believes that this may be because the most famous directors have access to the best projects, rather than just being the most talented.

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