The Sky is Blue, Water is Wet, and the Oscar Nominations are a Big Feminist Disappointment

This morning, the nominees for the 84th annual Academy Awards were announced. And this morning, as has happened every Oscar nominee morning for the past 83 years, the roster of hopefuls is filled with white dudes.

I’m not saying that Hugo wasn’t a fun movie, or that Moneyball didn’t make me temporarily find baseball mildly interesting, but if we were picking fantasy teams in the White Male Academy Awards Playoffs™, I’d want Brad Pitt, George Clooney, Martin Scorsese, Steven Spielberg, and Woody Allen as my starting five every year for a reason (the reason is that they get nominated ALL THE TIME).

Brad Pitt and George Clooney in tuxedos
This photo is from a previous awards show but it doesn’t matter. It could be from any awards show ever.

Given the Academy’s history of celebrating white guys who are already over-celebrated every time they turn around, this year’s nominations come as no real surprise. However, in a year that brought us Adepero Oduye in Pariah, SWINTON in We Need to Talk About Kevin, and countless other show-stopping performances by women and people of color in films made by women and people of color, it would be nice if at least ONE film out of the now NINE nominees for Best Picture broke the white male Hollywood mold a little (see also: the Best Director nominations). Is that too much to ask?

Martin Scorsese and Steven Spielberg in tuxedos
Yep, same thing goes for this one.

On the bright side, at least the woman-directed Kung Fu Panda 2 was nominated (congratulations Jennifer Yuh!) but come on. It’s Kung Fu Panda 2. Even in the Animated Feature Film category that appears to contain every animated feature film of 2011, it’s not exactly a frontrunner. Woman-directed films were also nominated in the Animated Short Film category (Amanda Forbis and Wendy Tilby), the Foreign Language category (Agnieszka Holland), and the Documentary Short category (Lucy Walker and Kira Carstensen, Rebecca Cammisa and Julie Anderson, Robin Fryday and Gail Colgin). Good luck to those ladies, but they are still in the vast minority of nominees, especially in the major categories.

Aside from a few nominees that I’m personally psyched about (here’s lookin’ at you, Melissa McCarthy!) I don’t see many entries on the short list for feminists to champion. Come February 26, I predict another Oscars night spent drinking too much wine and booing at the bad Billy Crystal puns and the 84-year old Industry Boys Club. Which, you know, is business as usual, but it would be nice if the Academy would give us movie-lovin’ feminists something to cheer for every once in a while. (GO KUNG FU PANDA 2!!!)

Which feminist films did you see in 2011 that deserved Oscar nods?

by Kelsey Wallace
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Kelsey Wallace is an editor in Portland, Oregon. Follow her on Twitter if you like TV and pictures of dogs.

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14 Comments Have Been Posted

So disappointed

I am so incredibly disappointed with this year's nominees. I'm a huge movie buff and watch the Oscars every year, but have always been disappointed by their lack of diversity. The list was very predictable with the exception, for me, of "Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close" being nominated for best picture. Not "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo" or "Pariah"????? Both speak heavily of important feminist issues that are often ignored. I haven't seen Pariah yet (but I'm dying to) but "Dragon Tattoo" had a fantastic screenplay, direction, and score. Albeit all of those things were done by white men but it truly is a movie with feminist themes that should not be ignored. I am pleased that Rooney Mara was nominated for best actress, and that Bridesmaids was honored in 2 different categories, but I am nearly positive that Meryl Streep will win for best actress which, again, is predictable and boring (I'm a huge Meryl Streep fan, but there were so many other wonderful actresses this year in much better films that "The Iron Lady").

Albert Nobb

I'd also suggest rooting for Glenn Close for her role in Albert Nobb. She's been trying to get the film produced for years, and the gender bending theme of the movie has got me interested. Wish a theatre in my city would screen it already.

I always root for Glenn Close

I always root for Glenn Close :) Seriously, I have had a crush on her since I was a kid! Albert Nobb has me really intrigued as well and after January 27th they are supposed to be expanding the movie theaters where it is played! Maybe it will be in your city sooner than you think!

Meryl Streep hasn't won in a long time

And probably won't again this year, because the only reason she was nominated was out of the deep respect the Hollywood-industrial-complex has for her. For the most part, I really, really like her, but she will not win again for this role, as she did not win previously for playing Julia Child. "The Iron Lady" is otherwise NOT a good film. Nominees I am rooting for: Rooney Mara, Melissa McCarthy, and Kristen Wiig.

Maybe I got a little ahead of

Maybe I got a little ahead of myself - I was kind of frustrated and exciting while writing that. I'm not positive Streep will win the oscar, but it's definitely between her and Viola Davis. I haven't seen Albert Nobbs, but it does seem intriguing. I am still disappointed with the nominees, but I, also, am rooting for Mara, McCarthy, and Wiig/Mumolo. I wouldn't mind seeing Viola and Spencer win for The Help. I have issues with the movies but their performances were very strong.

Alternative Oscars

I am new to BITCH MAGAZINE so I don't know if you already do this (if you do, please let me know!), but I hope to see some Alternative Oscars awarded by feminists like (y)ourselves.

Brilliant idea. Sadly, I am

Brilliant idea. Sadly, I am ignorant to the wealth of feminist films that have been released last year, but could you really blame me? Few have been promoted. = / All I know about, and what's I'm really excited to see, is Pariah, so far. So it'd be nice to see feminist blogs and periodicals show me what went past my radar undetected.

I don't understand why anyone

I don't understand why anyone still cares about the Oscars. The nominations and winners are always boring and upsetting because (news flash!) mainstream films are dominated by white, male directors and actors. I think it's important to highlight the people who should have been included in the nominations, but honestly, if Pariah won Best Picture, Twitter would be flooded with people bitching about it.

What about The Help

<p>Did I miss something? What about Viola Davis? Her performance was heartbreaking and wonderful. And I'm equally heartbroken by Glenn Close's performance in Albert Nobbs. (Yes, I've seen it.) I don't know which one I want to win - they were both wonderful.</p>
<p>I love Meryl Streep - but Iron Lady wasn't a great film, by any stretch.</p>
<p>Others from The Help - Jessica Chastain, Ocatavia Spencer... and Janet McTeer in Albert Nobbs??? Wow! And yes, Melissa McCarthy! They are all great! At least the Best Actress and Supporting Actress nominees are pretty spot on!</p>
<p>And YEAH! JEN YUH!!&nbsp;</p>
<p>Don't get me wrong - I agree with your Boys Club usual theme of the Oscars - but it's just not the Oscars... it's Hollywood, isn't it? I vote that Geena Davis should start her own studio and we can get some serious movie making done for girls, and maybe some boys included!</p>
<p>But in the end, you're right. Where are the films the talented women made? In obscure land where the Boys Club can keep them at bay. I'm tellin' ya... Geena...</p>

The Forgotten Women of Film

I write a blog about film & feminism called Alice In Actionland. Yesterday, in honor of the people who are always forgotten during awards season, I posted a piece about one of film's forgotten pioneers - and this blog's namesake - Alice Guy Blache: the world's first woman filmmaker. Please take a moment to read about this amazing trailblazer, whose legacy should never have been forgotten:

I really, REALLY disliked

I really, REALLY disliked "The Descendants"—thought it was self-indulgent, meandering and just plain nasty—but Shailene Woodley definitely deserved a Best Supporting Actress nomination. For shame that she didn't get it.


She was TERRIBLE, sorry, although I agree with your assessment of that film. In what universe are Clooney and Woodley's performances in that film deserving of anything??

I thought Fassbender and Theron and The Skin I Live in for BFL were snubbed.

Partial to Mia Wasikowska

Mia Wasikowska was great in JANE EYRE. I think YOUNG women, too, deserve more attention (which is why I'm pleased to see Rooney Mara and Michelle Williams nominated)!


"This photo is from a previous awards show but it doesn't matter. It could be from any awards show ever."
This was pretty fantastic.

A warm cup of Vulva Love

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