What the Hollywood Hills can be found in a word? Who should have been nominated for Best Director this year?
Like most people you see discussing this question, we have no earthly idea. That said, we do have a thought about this headline, which ran at Slate:
Natalie Portman’s Oscar Cape Was Embroidered With the Names of Eight Female Directors the Academy Snubbed This YearDid the Academy really "snub" eight female directors this year? We ask because the Academy only gives five Best Director nominations in all.
By MATTHEW DESSEM / FEB 09, 2020 9:09 PM
Can you really "snub" eight people if only five slots are available? In Dessem's transplendently scripted piece—it's the kind of piece which writes itself—he listed the eight snubbed directors, along with the films for which they were snubbed:
The eight snubbed directors:We've only seen one of those films. We thought it had several major problems, but others disagreed. It was very favorably reviewed.
• Lorene Scafaria, Hustlers
• Lulu Wang, The Farewell
• Greta Gerwig, Little Women
• Mati Diop, Atlantics
• Marielle Heller, A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood
• Melina Matsoukas, Queen & Slim
• Alma Har’el, Honey Boy
• Céline Sciamma, Portrait of a Lady on Fire
That said, some other films on that list of eight weren't gigantically well reviewed. At Metacritic, Atlantics and Hustlers were rated as the 24th and 25th best reviewed films of the year, according to the site's subjective rating system.
Queen & Slim, A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood and Honey Boy didn't rank that high. As you can see in Metacritic's compilation, very few critics, male or female, put these films on their "ten best" lists.
All eight films were professional films, directed by professional directors. But does it really make sense to issue one of our typical bleating headlines saying these people got "snubbed?"
Our liberal/pseudo-progressive world is awash in Grievance Culture. Complaints about discrimination (and about "snubs") have become sacramental.
Such complaints are now widely said to be our failing tribe's only toy. We rarely leave the playroom without it, according to expert scholars who serve as top figureheads.
Just on a semantic basis, can you really "snub" eight people if only five slots are available for honors? As his automatic writing ended, Dessem wasn't worrying about that:
DESSEM (2/9/20): Whether you share Portman’s anger at the Academy overlooking so much great work this year, or aren’t too worried about it (presumably because you didn’t see any of these movies), Portman has laid out a pretty good alternative guide to the year in film. Happy viewing!Can you "overlook" eight films if only five slots are available? Inquiring minds want to know! What the hills are alive with music can be found in a word?
This sort of thing has become sacramental within our deeply scripted tribe. This often makes us look dumb to The Others. Sometimes, The Others may not be totally wrong.