Hollywood, Barbie And Australians

Barbie, Australians

“There is no Barbie without Ken.” These are the wise and true words of Academy Award nominee Ryan Gosling in a recent article for the Hollywood bible, Variety, when he was discussing his nomination for Best Supporting Actor. His comments come from Barbie director Greta Gerwig and producer Margot Robbie, who were denied nominations for Best Director and Best Actress, respectively.

The movie is up for eight awards. This includes Best Picture. Gerwig is up for Best Adapted Screenplay alongside Noah Baumbach. This is the first blockbuster film by a woman to gross over a billion dollars. Also, it is one of several blockbuster films with over a billion dollars at the box office, including Avatar, its sequel Avatar: The Way of Water and Avengers: Endgame, to have Australian cast members.

As per Aus Film, the Academy knows Australians are hard workers. After they were nominated at least two hundred times over the Oscars’ 94-year history. Australians have won just fifty-eight of those awards since Ken G Hall in 1942, where he won for Kokoda Front Line! He was the first Aussie to win. He also became a pioneer in the local film industry to the point that Fox Studios Australia (now Disney Studio Australia) named Stage 3 after him. Australians have done reasonably well in the decades since, but this is nothing compared to the inner circle of Hollywood, which has won many more awards.

Australians vs. Americans At The Oscars

An article by Sky News examines the victories between Australian and American nominees at the Academy Awards. Over 94 years of giving out the Oscars, Americans have over 553 nominations. This number is across just seven out of 24 categories that are now a part of the ceremony. When the awards started, there were only 12 categories. Winners were announced a few months before the ceremony.

Regarding the second-highest country to win, Britain is that nation. Interestingly enough, Yahoo UK did some number crunching. They found that America has a 72% success rate while Britain comes out with 16% of the wins. The first Oscar win for the UK was in 1929. This occured at the first ceremony when Scottish director Frank Lloyd won for his film The Divine Lady. A year later, in 1930, George Arliss became the first British actor to win.

Limited Female Directors Nominated

Female directors have a hard time getting recognition for their work. In 94 years, only three women have won the statuette. PureWow writes that eight have been nominated overall. This includes Greta Gerwig for her 2017 film Lady Bird. However, she has been snubbed twice. The first time was with Little Women and then with Barbie. The three female winners of the Oscars have been Chloé Zhao for Nomadland, Katheryn Bigelow for The Hurt Locker and Jane Campion for Power of the Dog.

At the time of Greta’s directing nomination for Lady Bird, she was among a handful of female directors nominated for Best Director. Alice Guy-Blaché was the first woman to direct a film in 1896 with La Fée aux Choux. Penny Marshall was the first woman to direct a movie with over $ 100 million budget.

Italian director Lina Wermüller is the first female director nominated for Best Director. This was for her 1963 film The Basilisks. This should be enough recognition that women can more than direct Oscar calibre projects. Does the Academy, which is now primarily women, even do their research into previous winners? Female film directors isn’t a new concept. Female television directors get more recognition than their film counterparts do. It’s the same with Australians with Margot Robbie’s snub for Best Actress. Though, she is receiving honours as a producer with Barbie being up for Best Picture.

Lucky Chap

Margot and her husband, Tom Ackerley, started their production company, Lucky Chap Entertainment, in 2014. They started the company alongside Josey McNamara and Sophia Kerr. Since its conception, the studio has won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for Alison Janney in I, Tonya. Lucky Chap also had a victory with Emerald Fennell’s Promising Young Woman. It was nominated for five awards. Promising Young Woman won for Best Original Screenplay.

The Early Achievements Of Women At The Oscars

The first woman to win an Oscar for her writing was Frances Marion for the film The Big House. The category was known as Best Writing, as the Adapted and Original Screenplay were combined at this time. Best Original Screenplay became its own category in 1940.

Marion’s win in 1930 was a big deal. It shows that during the Oscars’ infancy, the Academy could accept women creatives behind the camera. It showed they could have a larger role in the broader aspect of film production outside of being actresses. Not every woman wants to show up and play the stereotypical love interest, which was the norm in the Golden Age of Hollywood.

The Lack Of Recognition And The Celebrity Callouts

Entertainment Tonight mentions that women fare much better in the writing Oscars categories than in the director’s designation. There have been 16 winners across two categories since the 1930s. Only Frances Marion and Ruth Prawer Jhabvala have won the screenwriting prizes twice, making it 18 wins. The last woman to win a screenwriting award was Diablo Cody for Juno in 2008. The ET article makes a fascinating note regarding female directors. When Barbra Streisand presented at the 2018 Golden Globes, she mentioned winning Best Director at the 1984 Golden Globes for her movie, Yentl.

Even Natalie Portman, who presented at the 2018 Golden Globes, said, “And here are the all-male nominees” regarding the Best Director candidates. According to Harper’s Bazaar, Issa Rae made a similar comment at the 2020 Oscars ceremony two years later, referring to the lack of female directors in the category.

Listening To A-Listers And Oscars Controversies

The Academy needs to go back and look at the previous winners and think: “Okay, are we favouring our films over those of international offerings?” They should also listen to what the A-list crowd says about the awards themselves. The last thing they need is another scandal; they’ve had plenty over the years. The Will Smith-Chris Rock slap springs to mind. As does the #OscarsSoWhite situation in 2015.

When #OscarsSoWhite started trending on. Twitter (now X), the Academy realised that they needed more diversity regarding their nominees as they were all Caucasian in 2015, which prompted an outcry.  Not to mention, during this time, people started pointing fingers at the longstanding history of racism.

No one could have thought that one would insult the other’s wife and then the first getting slapped on live television. There have been other situations over the years, including Angelina Jolie’s incestuous behaviour towards her brother in 2000. Then there is La La Land being read out instead of Moonlight in 2017. An article by Grazia points out that many of the dramas that have come up from the Oscars either point out race issues or involve women in some way. Some rather horrible jokes were also involved, including Anne Hathaway and James Franco at the 2011 Oscars.

Not Always Funny

There are some rather funny women in Hollywood. But Anne Hathaway being paired with James Franco didn’t work. Especially given what came out about Franco in the years afterwards. There have been women of colour who have hosted the Oscars. Diana Ross, Regina King, Wanda Skyes and Whoopi Goldberg are just a few. While it is nice to see African Americans host, it needs more diversity as no Latinos or Asian Americans have hosted, according to Billboard. There have also been two Australian hosts of the Oscars: Paul Hogan (better known to most people as Crocodile Dundee), hosted with Chevy Chase and Goldie Hawn in 1987, and Hugh Jackman in 2009 after hosting the Tonys four times.

Does The Academy Hate Diversity?

There is a question that remains here. Why does the Academy hate diversity so much? Is it because the founders of the original format thought it was customary to exclude people of diverse backgrounds and only award their Caucasian brethren?

Just because a handful of women have been winners in a handful of minor categories, it is not the same as winning the major awards. Also, many lesser awards aren’t broadcast during the main show. If they were shown, the ceremony would be much longer, though it would highlight all the winners and not only the major ones as is usually done. If anything, the Oscars board needs to sit back and reflect on whether they favour Americans over everyone else who gets nominated. Why not just appoint all Americans in every category? That way, the board members don’t have to put in the effort to look like they’re being fair.

Nominating different ethnicities is also a massive issue with the Academy. The Hollywood Reporter writes that the first person of colour to win an award was black director Roger Ross Williams for his short documentary film, Music for Prudence, in 2010. The lack of ethnicities nominated and won at the 2015 Oscars ceremony was why April Reign started the #OscarsSoWhite hashtag on Twitter, which caused it to trend and form a movement that caused the Academy to sit up and take notice of the issue.


However, it didn’t last very long, as, almost a decade after the campaign went viral, not much has changed. A handful of ethnic nominees are selected, but it is uncommon, if not rare, for someone to win. For example, the last time a Mexican director was in 2018 when Alfonso Cuarón, who won previously for his hit Gravity, was nominated for Roma for best director and won.

Roger Ross Williams’s nomination for Music for Prudence shows that people of colour aren’t favoured in the same way their Caucasian counterparts are. It would seem as if the Academy has forgotten the reason why #OscarsSoWhite became such a big deal in the first place. Williams highlights that black filmmakers are underappreciated as much as female and Australian creatives are. There have been men of colour who have been nominated for Best Director but have never won. This includes Steve MacQueen, the late John Singleton, Lee Daniels, Barry Jenkins, Jordan Peele and Spike Lee.

Greta Gerwig’s exclusion as Best Director is a massive slap in the face for female directors who dream of becoming Oscar winners. One upside to this year’s Oscars is that one woman is nominated: Justine Triet, the director of Anatomy of a Fall, so achieving Academy Award-winning status isn’t as far-fetched. Where does that leave Australians, though?

When Australians Are More Successful In Minor Categories

Australians seem more successful in other areas outside of directing and writing. The most successful venture Australians have had is in Costume Design, and the person to achieve this is Catherine Martin, a frequent collaborator of her husband, director Baz Luhrmann. She has won four awards. Greig Fraiser won a cinematography Oscar for his work on Denis Villeneuve’s 2022 epic, Dune. He is slated to make a comeback on Dune: Part Two, due for release in March 2024. He has only won once for his work.

The favouritism shown in Hollywood for Americans at the Oscars is no different to how television personalities are treated in Australia at the Logies, the Australian version of the Emmys. Some favourites are chosen, and they usually win the giant gong of the night, the gold Logie, which gives the winner bragging rights for a short time.

The Constant Boycotts

Sadly, the Academy does not seem to act on its promise to be more inclusive. There is a reason why some actors threatened to boycott the Oscars or did so to prove a point. BBC published a list in 2016 that mentions a few examples. Katharine Hepburn never showed up to collect any of her four awards, though she did appear to present a tribute to her friend, Lawrence Weingarten. Woody Allen has also won four Academy Awards but has never been present to receive them. His reasoning was favouritism. The most famous snub was Marlon Brando, where he turned down his award. He sent Sacheen Littlefeather up on stage to protest how the entertainment industry at the time was treating Native American performers.

For two straight years, the Oscars were given to White creatives, which led Spike Lee and Jada Pinkett Smith, as per DW, to boycott the awards in 2016. Lee also commented that there was an easier chance of becoming United States president than getting nominated for an Academy Award.

Should Australians Boycott The Awards?

It is generally surprising that Australians haven’t boycotted the Oscars in droves over a lack of wins. Directors Peter Weir and George Miller are just a sample of Australian filmmakers nominated over the years. Weir has never won an Oscar, but he did receive an honourary one in November 2022, twelve years after he retired from the film industry. Other directors who have received nominations over the years. These include American-born Mel Gibson for Braveheart. British-born Tom Hooper for The King’s Speech. Another includes New Zealand-born Jane Campion for The Piano. Baz Luhrmann was snubbed for Moulin Rouge, in which Whoopi Goldberg commented, “I guess it directed itself.” The film itself was nominated.

Mel Gibson’s Braveheart was nominated for ten Oscars. It won five awards, including Best Director for Gibson and Best Picture. The screenplay being written by Randall Wallace after he took an interest in his Scottish roots. He is not related to the real William Wallace. Tom Hooper directed The King’s Speech. This is story of how King George VI overcame his stutter. He did it so he could deliver his wartime speech in the wake of his brother, King Edward VIII’s abdication to marry Wallis Simpson.

Suzanne Baker was the first Australian woman to win an Oscar in a producer capacity. She produced the 1977 Best Animated Short film, Leisure, which Bruce Petty directed. Female producers were not as common in the 1970s as in today’s Hollywood. Kathleen Kennedy, for example, was a massive contributor, alongside her husband, Frank Marshall, to Steven Spielberg’s films in the 80s and 90s. This is long before she joined Lucasfilm as its president in the 2010s.

Sweeping The Board Of Successful Women

Another example is television magnate Shonda Rimes, who created countless hit television shows under her Shondaland production company. Another example is Victoria Alonso, who helped create the Marvel Cinematic Universe from the ground up. She joined Marvel Studios in 2005. Victoria assisted in producing Iron Man and Captain America. She had worked at Dreamworks and was involved with some of its well-known properties, including Shrek. She was allegedly fired for breaching the noncompete clause in her contract because she reportedly worked with rival company, Amazon Studios’ film, Argentina, 1985.

Her firing came around when she was accused of contributing to the toxic environment that had manifested within the production company. Australian production companies aren’t often in the media or films produced.

Australian Short Films

There are two short films that Australian filmmakers have won over the years. Harvie Krumpet won in 2003, and The Lost Thing in 2010. Seven years. But that’s nothing compared to the 1977 win of Leisure, which was almost thirty years before Harvie Krumpet. Talk about a long time between wins.

Work Ethnic

American directors love working with Australian cast and crew due to their strong ethics. They do not demand fancy luxuries but show up and do the work. That is why actors like Chris Hemsworth and Nicole Kidman are so well regarded in Hollywood: they put their best foot forward and do what they require. As does Hugh Jackman, who, like many actors, has pulled his musical theatre work into his film work. He has been involved in multiple genres where he can put his skills to good use. It is a shame he has never won an Oscar for his performances.

Many American productions are filmed in Australia. One current example is the remake of The Fall Guy, starring Barbie actor Ryan Gosling. The upcoming Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes was also shot in Sydney. It is shot at the newly renamed Disney Studios Australia.

When Barbie Co-Stars Speak Out

 Not to mention, Gosling condemned the Academy for not nominating Greta Gerwig and Margot Robbie. After all, they were responsible for making Barbie the success it was. America Ferrera, nominated for Best Supporting Actress, courtesy of NBC News, said it was “disappointing” that their director and the lead star weren’t nominated.

Barbie is a game-changer of a film as it exposes the little-covered toxic femininity that plagues society. The film reveals that toxicity doesn’t come from only men. It comes from women also, and it is okay to have an open dialogue about it. The movie was unique. It touches on the topic in a way that most filmmakers wouldn’t know to handle or portray. It doesn’t force the audience to take sides. The screenplay for the film, which was nominated for Best Adapted Screenplay, was co-written by a woman and a man. Greta and Margot could be noticed for their other talents, too. It would also be a great way to represent Australia since Margot is the Australian in this situation.

Talent Counts For Everything

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences should look hard at the talent of Australians and women. If anything, the Barbie snub should be considered a wake-call. When the two nominated actors criticise the establishment, it reveals voters’ thoughts about which films should win.

Female filmmakers, in particular, cannot compete with their male compatriots when it’s not an even fight. One woman against three men isn’t fair, as there is a higher bet one of the three men would win. A turn-off that should be a wake-up call is when there are all white winners and nominees. Changing the format for one or two years is not progress. It shows how stuck the Academy is in the past and needs to change. The criteria must be changed to be fairer to everyone regardless of gender, nationality and sexual orientation. It should reflect talent above all else.

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About Author

C.J. Hawkings has written for the now-defunct Entertainment website, Movie Pilot and the still functioning WhatCulture and ScreenRant. She prides herself as a truth seeker and will do (almost) anything for coffee or Coke No Sugar. Oh! And food!

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