Barbie Oscars

No Oscar for Greta Gerwig is disappointing – but Barbie’s nominations aren’t sexist

You can be sad for Margot Robbie without coming for Ryan Gosling

Let me start by saying this: women are dramatically underrepresented in the film industry. Only seven per cent of the top 250 grossing films in 2023 were directed by women and only six per cent had female cinematographers. A humungous 75 per cent of the top grossing films employed 10 or more men as directors, writers, producers, executive producers, editors and cinematographers. Only four per cent employed 10 or more women. The Celluloid Ceiling is alive and kicking, manifesting itself in a myriad of different ways— including Oscar nominations. This doesn’t mean Barbie should win all the awards.

When the Academy Award’s nomination list was released yesterday afternoon and Ryan Gosling had been nominated for Best Supporting Actor while Margot Robbie missed out on Best Actress and Greta was “snubbed” for Best Director the internet collectively cried sexism: “Barbie being robbed for her own movie while Ken secures the nomination is INSANE,” wrote one person on Twitter. “Margot Robbie and Greta Gerwig being passed over for Oscar 2024 nominations for Barbie while Ryan Gosling gets a nod for playing Ken, is peak EXACTLY WHAT THE FREAKING MOVIE IS ALL ABOUT,” said another. “I’m so fucking tired of MEN,” yelled a third. 

Ryan Gosling had to make a statement because of the online ruckus over the supposed snub: “There is no Ken without Barbie, and there is no Barbie movie without Greta Gerwig and Margot Robbie, the two people most responsible for the history-making, globally-celebrated film,” he said. “No recognition would be possible for anyone on the film without their talent, grit and genius. To say that I’m disappointed that they are not nominated in their respective categories would be an understatement.”

It’s fair to say, this would be the time to go outside and touch some grass. Because, Barbie was nominated for eight Oscars yesterday. True, two of them were for Ryan Gosling: one for his performance as Ken (deserved) and the other for I’m Just Ken (less so). But the other six were for the many women Greta carefully employed to make the movie so special: America Fererra – Best Supporting Actress; Billie Eilish – Best Original Song; Sarah Greenwood – Best Production Design; Jacqueline Durran – Best Costume Design; and, of course, Greta herself— for Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Picture. Hello! These nominations are significant.

In the Best Actress category, Margot Robbie wasn’t snubbed in favour of Ryan Gosling. Deserving and brilliant actresses, including Emma Stone for Poor Things and Lily Gladstone – the first ever Native American woman to be nominated – are being considered. Alongside their performances, Margot’s simply didn’t reach the same standard. She deserved her nomination for Best Actress in I, Tonya in 2018 and for Best Supporting Actress in Bombshell in 2019. But Barbie? Sorry, no. There are far more deserving performances to choose from this year with significantly more nuance and artistry.

Yes, Barbie was a huge cultural happening. It raked in millions of dollars, had us all wearing pink and sparked more memes than the Twitter timeline could handle. But as one person wrote in reaction to the nominations yesterday: “Barbie is like Harry Potter for me. Great fun film with great actors in it. Doesn’t need a single acting Oscar nomination.”

The one valid sadness here is the Best Director category. Not even, necessarily, for the lack of Greta Gerwig (she was previously nominated in 2018 for Ladybird) but because of the five slots open only one is filled by a woman: Justine Triet for her astounding Anatomy of a Fall. Notably, in the Oscars’ almost 100-year-long history, only eight women have been nominated for Best Director. Just three (Chloé Zhao for Nomadland, Kathryn Bigelow for The Hurt Locker, and Jane Campion for The Power of the Dog) have actually won. Frustratingly, this is a classic Academy move.

So sure, get angry at the 2024 Oscar nominations list. Get even angrier at the state of sexism in the film industry – during awards season and beyond. But don’t claim Barbie’s eight nominations are an example of the patriarchy at work. Frankly, you sound stupid. And there’s much more disparity in the creative industries worth fighting to rectify.

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Featured image credit via Lee Jae-Won/AFLO/Shutterstock