Awards Season: Despite national snubs, women are winning in city critics groups

Several critics groups in major U.S. cities are honoring the work of female filmmakers in the lead-up to the Academy Awards in February.

Most critics groups announce nominees and winners in December, before nationally-broadcast ceremonies in January: the Golden Globe Awards Jan. 5 and the Critics Choice Awards Jan. 12, followed by the guilds of writers, directors and actors later in the month. 

The Hollywood Foreign Press Association made headlines for its history of failing to nominate women in major categories. The Screen Actors Guild largely ignored films like Little Women and Honey Boy. The Writers and Directors Guilds of America have yet to complete the voting process, but if history is any indication, few women will be nominated for awards.

Films with female writers and directors are, however, being recognized by critics groups across the U.S. Jennifer Lopez’s performance in Hustlers, Claire Mathon’s cinematography in Portrait of a Lady on Fire and Greta Gerwig’s adapted Little Women screenplay lead the charge, with four wins each as of Dec. 16. 

Women creators working on films directed by men are also winning – most notably, Oscar-winning costume designer Ruth E. Carter (Dolemite Is My Name) and production designer Barbara Ling (Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood). 

FF2 Media research conducted in August 2018 found that 78 percent of critics in 19 major city associations were male, from Austin to Washington D.C. These groups ultimately “decide whether or not a film will have a successful run and determine the futures of directors, screenwriters, producers and studios.” 

According to an annual study conducted by Dr. Martha Lauzen and the Center for Women in Television and Film at San Diego State University, women make up about 34 percent of general critics in the U.S. (not necessarily involved with formal critics groups). 

“Male film critics outnumber female critics by almost 2 to 1, and continue to dominate the conversation about film across every type of media outlet and about every film genre,” Lauzen said. “We know that it’s not just entertainment. People don’t directly copy the behavior they see modeled in the movies, but it does have an effect,” Lauzen told FF2 Media in 2003 on the importance of employing female critics. “The effect may be fuzzy, but nevertheless, it’s important and powerful.”

The percentages of women receiving awards in city critics groups are listed below, in order from most gender-balanced (Chicago with 48 percent) to least (Detroit, 17 percent). The numbers include not only women creators, but male team members on films written and/or directed by women.

© Georgiana E. Presecky (12/17/19) FF2 Media

CHICAGO FILM CRITICS ASSOCIATION

48 percent women or team members from a woman-directed film.

The Chicago Film Critics Association honored Little Women with four awards – Best Adapted Screenplay (Greta Gerwig), Best Supporting Actress (Florence Pugh), Best Costume Design (Jacqueline Durran) and Best Original Score (Alexandre Desplat). The Farewell director Lulu Wang was given the Milos Stehlik Breakthrough Filmmaker Award, nominated alongside three other women in the category. Full list: https://chicagofilmcritics.org/

 

BOSTON SOCIETY OF FILM CRITICS

46 percent women or team members from a woman-directed film.

The Boston Society of Film Critics named Little Women Best Picture, Best Ensemble Cast, Best Actress (Saoirse Ronan) and Best Original Score. Claire Mathon won Best Cinematography for her work on Portrait of a Lady on Fire. Tamara Kotevska’s outstanding Honeyland was named Best Documentary. The Irishman editor Thelma Schoonmaker rounds out the BSFC’s female nominees. Full list: https://bostonfilmcritics.org/current-winners/

 

KANSAS CITY FILM CRITICS CIRCLE

43 percent women or team members from a woman-directed film.

 Co-written by Krysty Wilson-Cairns, gripping war drama 1917 was voted Best Film, Best Director and Best Cinematography. Gerwig was honored for adapting Little Women and Stephany Folsom’s screenplay for Toy Story 4 was named Best Animated Feature. Portrait of a Lady on Fire rounds out the female-directed nominees, given the Tom Poe Award for Best LGBT Film. Full list: https://kcfcc.org/

LOS ANGELES FILM CRITICS ASSOCIATION

35 percent women or team members from a woman-directed film.

Full list: http://www.lafca.net/Years/2019.php

Best Supporting Actress: Jennifer Lopez, Hustlers

Best Cinematography: Claire Mathon, Portrait of a Lady on Fire

Best Production Design: Barbara Ling, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

Best Documentary: American Factory

Career Achievement: Elaine May

The Douglas Edwards Experimental/Independent Film/Video Award: Ja’Tovia Gary’s The Giverny Document 

 

DALLAS-FORT WORTH FILM CRITICS ASSOCIATION

31 percent women or team members from a woman-directed film.

Full list: https://dfwcritics.com/dfwfca-to-announce-2019-award-winners-on-dec-16/

Best Picture: 1917

Best Cinematography: Roger Deakins, 1917

Best Animated Feature: Toy Story 4

Best Original Score: Thomas Newman, 1917

 

PHILADELPHIA FILM CRITICS CIRCLE

31 percent women or team members from a woman-directed film.

Full list: https://philafcc.org/

Best Supporting Actress: Florence Pugh, Little Women

Best Breakthrough Performance: Florence Pugh, Little Women

Best Animated Feature: Toy Story 4

Best Directorial Debut – Olivia Wilde, Booksmart

Elaine May Award: Harriet

ATLANTA FILM CRITICS CIRCLE

29 percent women or team members from a woman-directed film.

Full list: https://bit.ly/2sC9FEP

Best Animated Feature: Toy Story 4

Best Cinematography: Roger Deakins, 1917

Best Original Score: Thomas Newman, 1917

AFCC Special Award for Best First Film: Olivia Wilde, Booksmart 

1917 and Little Women two of Top 10 Films. 

 

ST. LOUIS FILM CRITICS ASSOCIATION

29 percent women or team members from a woman-directed film.

Full list: http://www.stlfilmcritics.org/awards

Best Production Design: Barbara Ling, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

Best Animated Feature: Toy Story 4

Best Cinematography: Roger Deakins, 1917

Best Original Score: Thomas Newman, 1917

Best Comedy: Booksmart

Best Action Film: 1917 

 

SEATTLE FILM CRITICS SOCIETY

25 percent women or team members from a woman-directed film.

Full list: https://seattlefilmcritics.com/ 

Best Supporting Actress: Jennifer Lopez, Hustlers

Best Animated Feature: Toy Story 4

Best Costume Design: Ruth E. Carter, Dolemite is My Name

Best Production Design: Barbara Ling, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

Best Cinematography: Roger Deakins, 1917

Honeyland

WASHINGTON D.C. AREA FILM CRITICS ASSOCIATION

25 percent women or team members from a woman-directed film.

Full list: http://www.dcfilmcritics.com/awards/

Best Supporting Actress: Jennifer Lopez, Hustlers

Best Voice Performance: Tony Hale, Toy Story 4

Best Adapted Screenplay: Greta Gerwig, Little Women

Best Production Design: Barbara Ling, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

Best Cinematography: Roger Deakins, 1917

 

INDIANA FILM CRITICS ASSOCIATION

24 percent women or team members from a woman-directed film.

Full list: http://indianafilmjournalists.com/

Best Documentary: For Sama

Best Adapted Screenplay: Greta Gerwig, Little Women

Best Supporting Actress: Jennifer Lopez, Hustlers

Breakout of the Year: Olivia Wilde, Booksmart

 

PHOENIX CRITICS CIRCLE

24 percent women or team members from a woman-directed film.

Full list: http://www.phxcritics.com/2019-awards

Best Cinematography: Roger Deakins, 1917

Best Animated Feature: Toy Story 4

Career Achievement: Thelma Schoonmaker (Editor, The Irishman)

Best Score: Hildur Gudnadottir, Joker 

 

LAS VEGAS FILM CRITICS SOCIETY

23 percent women or team members from a woman-directed film.

Full list: https://bit.ly/2YT5sc5

Best Cinematography: Roger Deakins, 1917

Best Costume Design: Ruth E. Carter, Dolemite is My Name

Best Song: Stand Up, Harriet 

Breakout Filmmaker: Olivia Wilde, Booksmart

Best Male Youth Performance: Noah Jupe, Honey Boy

Best Score: Hildur Gudnadottir, Joker 

NEW YORK FILM CRITICS CIRCLE

20 percent women or team members from a woman-directed film.

Full list: http://www.nyfcc.com/awards/

Best Cinematographer: Claire Mathon, Portrait of a Lady on Fire

Best Non-Fiction Film (Documentary): Honeyland 

Best First Film: Mati Diop, Atlantics

 

SAN DIEGO FILM CRITICS SOCIETY

20 percent women or team members from a woman-directed film. 

Full list: http://www.sdfcs.org/2019-awards/

Best Supporting Actress: Zhao Shuzhen, The Farewell

Best Costume Design: Ruth E. Carter, Dolemite is My Name

Breakthrough Artist: Florence Pugh, Little Women

 

SAN FRANCISCO BAY AREA FILM CRITICS ASSOCIATION

18 percent women or team members from a woman-directed film.

Full list: https://bit.ly/35BLF3C

Best Supporting Actress: Jennifer Lopez, Hustlers

Best Cinematography: Roger Deakins, 1917

Best Production Design: Barbara Ling, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

 

DETROIT FILM CRITICS SOCIETY 

17 percent women or team members from a woman-directed film.

Full List https://detroitfilmcritics.com/

Best Animated Feature: Toy Story 4

Breakthrough: Florence Pugh, Actress 

Other nominees for Breakthrough Performance: Ana de Armas, Actress (Knives Out), Jessie Buckley, Actress (Wild Rose, Judy), Kaitlyn Dever, Actress (Booksmart, Them That Follow), Aisling Franciosi, Actress (The Nightingale), Lulu Wang, Writer/Director/Producer (The Farewell), Olivia Wilde, Director (Booksmart)

Photos Courtesy of A24, Neon, Magnolia Pictures, MK2, Disney-Pixar Studios, Sony Pictures

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