I was waiting to cover this until the Oscar nominations came out, because I wanted to see if Mudbound’s quiet Oscar campaign worked at all. It didn’t – Mary J. Blige got an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actress, and Virgil Williams and Dee Rees got nominated for Adapted Screenplay, but the film was snubbed for Best Picture, and Dee Rees was snubbed for Best Director (she would have been the first African-American woman to be nominated). Ahead of the nominations, Carey Mulligan – part of the Mudbound ensemble – spoke to Variety about Dee Rees and representation in directing.
Actress Carey Mulligan called out the “Star Wars” franchise’s lack of female directors as well as their lack of representation at award shows while at the Sundance Film Festival.
“If Dee Rees was a white man she’d be directing the next ‘Star Wars,’ she’d be nominated for an Oscar without question,” Mulligan said at Variety’s Sundance studio, just prior to Tuesday’s Academy Award nominations. Many thought that Rees, who directed the critically-acclaimed “Mudbound,” was snubbed from this year’s Golden Globes race for Best Director along with “Lady Bird’s” Greta Gerwig and “Wonder Woman’s” Patty Jenkins.
“There’s something not right, and we’re working on it,” she added. “I think Greta [Gerwig] and Patty Jenkins have been overlooked for too long. If it doesn’t happen I fell like it will send out a big signal and I think that people will react to that.”
On the “Star Wars” front, J.J. Abrams directed 2015’s “The Force Awakens” — and is set to return for Episode IX — with Rian Johnson taking control for last year’s “The Last Jedi.” Gareth Edwards led the franchise’s first anthology film “Rogue One” in 2016, and Phil Lord and Christopher Miller were tapped to direct the Han Solo origin film before being replaced with Ron Howard. Kathleen Kennedy has stated in the past her desire to hire a female helmer for a “Star Wars” film.
“There’s nothing we’d like more than to find a female director for ‘Star Wars’,” she said. “There is an assumption made that the people involved should predominantly be men. There are women who are ‘Star Wars’ fans. That’s what’s so insane.”
It should be said that Carey Mulligan is somewhat of a Hollywood outsider, but she’s respected in Hollywood because of her talent, and this is a pretty big call-out that will be noticed and remembered. Carey is telling no lies though – if a white male director had done Mudbound – or Lady Bird, for that matter – they would be taking meetings at Disney and being seriously considered to direct some $100 million franchise film. Why isn’t that that the case with Dre Rees and Greta Gerwig again?
Also: Mary J. Blige is now the first person to be nominated for an Oscar in a performance directed by an African-American woman. Baby steps? Ugh.
Photos courtesy of Getty.