Natalie Portman wore a custom Dior gown and cape to the Oscars in Hollywood, with the names of eight female directors who weren’t nominated for the best director Oscar embroidered in gold on the lapel of her cape.
Portman told Amy Kaufman of The Los Angeles Times: “I wanted to recognise the women who were not recognised for their incredible work this year in my subtle way.”
The eight female directors names embroidered on the cape were:
- Greta Gerwig for Little Women
- Lorene Scafaria for Hustlers
- Lulu Wang for The Farewell
- Mati Diop for Atlantics
- Marielle Heller for A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood
- Melina Matsoukas for Queen & Slim
- Alma Har’el for Honeyboy
- Céline Sciamma for Portrait of a Lady On Fire.
Portman’s tribute to these directors is subtle and supportive and highlights the fact that in 92 years of the Oscars, only five female directors have been nominated for best director, and only one — Kathryn Bigelow — has won.
Female-directed films did succeed in the box office in 2019, however. Of the top 100 movies of the year, 12 of the directors were women, up from five in 2018.
Is Portman’s gesture hypocritical?
Some have labelled Portman’s gesture as hypocritical because her own production company has only ever hired one female director to date — that being Portman herself.
So far her company, Handsomecharliefilms, has made nine films and seven of these have been directed by a male director with the remaining two directed by Portman. People have acknowledged her gesture at the Oscars but asked can she put this sentiment into action herself and hire a more diverse range of directors instead of “just white men.”
In Portman’s defense it’s been pointed out that all of the films made by her company, Handsomecharliefilms, feature prominent female characters and stories centred around these women.
It does make you wonder if you can make any public gestures at an event such as the Oscars these days without drawing some criticism. The Oscars went host-less for the second time this year and it’s been reported this may well have been because there’s usually a great deal of criticism over the Academy’s choice of host.
Mind you, when Tina Fey and Amy Poehler hosted the Golden Globes in 2015 it was hilarious! Maybe the Academy should keep that in mind.